Jehovah's Witnesses' lawyer describes their case in Siberia


Couple in Omsk oblast arrested for husband's admission of his faith

by Viktoria Li

MBKh Media, 20 July 2018


In early July in Omsk, the spouses Sergei and Anastasia Poliakov were arrested. Law enforcement personnel broke into their apartment and beat the husband. The regional Investigative Committee refused to deal with the beatings, explaining that "claims against police are not accepted." This is the first case when a woman is accused of participating in the Jehovah's Witnesses, an organization that has been liquidated and ruled to be extremist. The reason for all of this was that in the spring Sergei replied honestly to questions from a policeman about his religious views. The Poliakovs' attorney, Dmitry Kolobov, described this case for MBKh Media.


Sergei and Anastasia Poliakov are from St. Petersburg. They have moved often. They lived in Kazakhstan for a long time and they settled in Omsk in 2017. They rented an apartment and got jobs. On 10 May 2018 the Poliakovs visited friends in the village of Kuduk-Chilik, which is approximately 60 kilometers from Omsk. This is a very small settlement where several hundred people live. According to the lawyer Kolobov, the strange car was noticed in the village by the head of the village settlement. The suspicious head began to speak himself with Sergei and Anastasia, and then he called a police officer.


"The questions came: whom are you visiting? what are you doing here? When the conversation came to faith, Poliakov said that he professes the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. The policeman asked the same questions," Kolobov explained. "Nastya was standing nearby and explained whom they were visiting, but she said nothing about religion. At this, they parted."


After this, family telephone conversations were tapped, the lawyer maintains. And in the summer there occurred the aggressive arrest, search, and the opening of a criminal case. At 7:20 a.m. on 4 July, the door to the Poliakovs' stairwell was opened. Sergei went to the door and to his question who was there he was answered: "Police." And they began to smash the door.


"Sergei tried frantically to record it all on video, but the door was nearly removed from its hinge and the cops burst in wearing masks and delivered two or three blows to his face and Poliakov immediately began bleeding from the nose. One cop grabbed him by his clothing and shouted 'Lie down!' and he forced down his head and struck his face with his knee. He fell and his arms were twisted from above."


Sergei was bleeding. They picked him up and forced him to clean the blood from the floor. At the time Anastasia was in the bedroom and the people in masks went into the room and shouted for her to take her hands from under the blanket; otherwise they would remove it themselves. The woman put on her clothes and an observer searched her. Telephones, computers, tablets, notes, and Bibles in the synodal translation and in the New World Translation were taken from the married couple. The investigator, Denis Loginovsky, did not let the Poliakovs call a lawyer and did not explain their rights. When Anastsia tried to indicate in the report what she disagreed with, Loginovsky tore the document from her hands.


For another several hours the Poliakovs were dragged around police stations in Omsk. The personnel from the local "E" center placed Sergei and Anastasia into a former gym under police surveillance.


"For about three hours nobody said anything to them," the lawyer explained. "Then policemen arrived and said that they were suspected of participating in the activity of a religious organization that had been liquidated for extremism."


At approximately 17:00, the believers were taken to Azovo in separate cars. It was explained that because the profession of faith occurred on the territory of Azovo district, the consideration of the case would be in the district investigation department of the regional SK [Investigative Committee] in Azovo.


"Along the way severe pressure was put on Anastasia. They told her complete nonsense: that her marriage with Sergei was fictional; she was called an American spy and sectarian; she was forced to give evidence against her husband. She refused, and they told her: 'Then we will converse with you in a different way.'"


The Poliakovs are charged under part two of article 282.2 for participation in the activity of a religious organization that has been liquidated for extremist activity. On 6 July the Azovo district court selected a measure of restraint for the Poliakovs: confinement in custody until 20 August. On 16 July the court did not grant an appeal and the decision entered into force.


"This criminal case is a new round of pressure on Jehovah's Witnesses. They were arrested not for participation in worship services in a home but simply for the fact that Sergei said that he is a Jehovah's Witness. And a member of the family was also arrested, and until now it has never occurred in Russia that a woman was charged on this article."


During the search, Sergei's nose and lip were beaten. According to the Criminal Procedural Code of the RF, if police officers break down doors and use force during an arrest, then they must report it within a day to their leaders and to the prosecutor's office.


"I do not know whether they followed procedure. On 17 July I tried to submit a claim about a crime on these facts to the SK for Omsk oblast, but the investigator on duty refused to receive the claim and said that such claims are not accepted against personnel; they will take it as a complaint or view it as an appeal or send it somewhere," the lawyer said.


Kolobov intends to appeal the police response. Instead of accepting a claim about a crime and issuing a notification of its acceptance, Dmitry was given a copy and a note about its receipt. In effect the law enforcement agents indicated that they would not conduct the required verification.


On the city's internet portal "NGS Omsk," [see below] on 17 July, there appeared a notice about the arrest of the spouses from St. Petersburg, who in May "recruited" residents of the Azovo district. The press service of the Investigative Committee for Omsk oblast described how Bibles, religious magazines, and pamphlets were allegedly found on a 34-year-old woman and 46-year-old man and they were placed in custody, since the investigation was afraid that the suspects would try to flee. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 July 2018)




by Oleg Malinovsky

NGS Omsk, 17 July 2018


Despite the ban of the organization, a couple from St. Petersburg came to the Azovo district of Omsk oblast in order to enlist local residents as new Jehovah's Witnesses.


As the press service of the SUSKP [Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia] for Omsk oblast explained, a 34-year-old woman and her 46-year-old spouse arrived in Azovo district in May 2018.


"They began conducting agitation activity for involving local residents in participation in the activity of the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses," the agency explained and recalled that the religious organization had been ruled to be extremist in 2017.


Bibles, religious magazines, and pamphlets were found in the possession of the residents of St. Petersburg. Now they have been confined in custody, since the investigators concluded that they may try to flee.


According to part 2 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the RF (preparing the activity of an extremist organization), they face up to six years of incarceration. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 July 2018)

Background articles:
Jehovah's Witnesses couple denied appeal against pretrial detention
July 16, 2018
Police brutality against Jehovah's Witnesses in Omsk
July 13, 2018

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