Five Jehovah's Witnesses lose appeal in Far East


SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 12 May 2022


On 11 May 2022, the Sakhalin oblast court upheld the sentence for five Jehovah's Witnesses—Evgeny Elin, Viacheslav Ivanov, Alexander Koslitin, and the couple Sergei and Tatiana Kulakov—based on articles concerning the arranging of activity of an extremist organization and participating in it (parts 1 and 2 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code). In January, the Nevelsk city court of Sakhalin oblast found Elin and Kulakov guilty on the basis of part 1 of article 282.2 CC and sentenced them to six and a half years suspended terms of incarceration. Tatiana Kulakova, Ivanov, and Kozlitin were given suspended sentences of two years on the basis of part 2 of article 282.2 CC.


The case against Sergei Kulakov was opened in December 2018. In August 2019, a separate case was opened against Ivanov and Kulakov's son Dmitry, but it was closed in 2020. After this, Ivanov was charged in a different case, which was opened in October 2019. Kozlitin's case was opened in April 2019 and Elin's case, in December. A criminal case was opened against Tatiana Kulakova in March 2020.


Then the cases were merged into a single proceeding. The court began considering the joint case in January 2021. The state's prosecutor asked for suspended terms of from three years and two months to six and a half years. All of the convicts were free on their own recognizance.


The Jehovah's Witnesses are accused of participating in the activity of an extremist organization because in April 2017, the Russian Supreme Court made the decision to find the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and 395 of their local religious organizations to be extremist. We consider that this decision, which was followed by widespread criminal prosecution of believers, did not have legal bases and we regard it as a manifestation of religious discrimination. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 May 2022)

Background article:
Jehovah's Witnesses repeatedly tried for same offenses
July 31, 2020

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