Illegal prosecution of Jehovah's Witness in Russian-occupied region


Credo.Press, 14 January 2022


On 13 January, a Sevastopol city court upheld a verdict for Igor Shmidt—six years in prison for activity connected with profession of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. Taking into account time spent in a SIZO and under house arrest, he will have to spend about 5 years in a penal colony, a correspondent of the Credo.Press portal reports, citing a source among Russian Jehovah's Witnesses.


Shmidt's prosecution began with a series of searches in homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in Sevastopol in October 2020. A criminal case based on part 1 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the R.F. (arranging the activity of an extremist organization) had been opened several days before the searches. During the investigation, Shmidt mostly was under house arrest, and after the verdict was issued in the court of first instance he was placed in a SIZO.


During proceedings in the court of first instance it was revealed that the accusation of the believer was built upon evidence from an F.S.B. agent, Korkushko. He gave testimony that corresponded word for word with testimony of another F.S.B. agent, Dmitrienko.


In October 2021, Judge Liudmila Tumaikina of the Gagarin district court of the city of Sevastopol ruled that the businessman Igor Shmidt is guilty of arranging the activity of an extremist organization and she sentenced him to a real-time prison term. The sentence has now taken legal force. The believer still insists on his innocence. He has the right to appeal the sentence in cassation court and also in international instances.


The illegality of the criminal prosecution of individual believers in Russia was recently affirmed by the plenum of the Russian Supreme Court, which ruled that worship services of Jehovah's Witnesses and their collective conduct of rituals and ceremonies in and of themselves do not constitute the elements of the crime specified in article 282.2 of the CC of RF, despite the liquidation of their legal entities. (tr. by PDS, posted 14 January 2022)

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