Third criminal conviction of Jehovah's Witness this year


Mediazona, 4 July 2019


The Ordzhonikidze district court of Perm assessed a 300,000 [ruble] fine against 49-year-old Jehovah's Witness Alexander Soloviev for organizing the activity of a religious association that had been ruled to be extremist (part 2, article 282 of Criminal Code), Mediazona was told by journalist Mikhail Danilovich.


The prosecutor's office asked to assign Soloviev to three and a half years in a penal colony. The Jehovah's Witnesses had considered that he might become the second believer to receive a real time prison term. Earlier, in February, the Dane Dennis Christensen was sentenced to six years in a penal colony.


Soloviev and his wife, Anna, were arrested back in May 2018 after returning from a trip abroad. The spouse was soon released, but the believer was placed under house arrest; later the measure of restriction was changed to a ban on certain activities.


The Jehovah's Witnesses were ruled to be an extremist organization in 2017. After that, throughout Russia there began widespread persecutions of the adherents of the religious association. Surgut believers described tortures in the building of the Investigative Committee with demands to give confessions. (tr. by PDS, posted 4 July 2019)



Website of Investigation Department of Investigative Committee for Perm territory, 4 July 2019


Evidence assembled in the first department for investigation of especially serious cases of the investigation department of the Investigative Committee of Russia (S.K.R.) for Perm territory was ruled by a court to be sufficient for issuing a sentence to a resident of the city of Perm. He was found guilty of committing the crime specified in part 2 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (participation in the activity of a public or religious association or other organization, with respect to which a decision for liquidation of prohibition of activity because of conduct of extremist activity has taken legal effect, with the exception of organizations that are recognized to be terrorist in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation).


The investigation and trial established that from July 2017 to May 2018, on the territory of the city of Perm, the convict participated in the activity of a religious association, with respect to which a court decision for its liquidation because of conduct of extremist activity has taken legal effect. At the same time, he reliably knew that this religious organization and local religious organizations that constituted its structure had been ruled to be an extremist organization and liquidated by a decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, and its activity on the territory of the Russian Federation was forbidden. Despite that, he deliberately participated in accomplishing the goals of the organization aimed at the profession of and dissemination of faith, including preaching in public places and residences; that is, he promoted the activity of a forbidden organization and immediately participated in events conducted by other members.


In the course of preliminary investigation, a substantial amount of investigative and procedural actions were conducted with the goal of establishing the objective truth regarding the criminal case and all circumstances of the commission of a crime: numerous witnesses were questioned; inspections of sites of events were conducted; confiscated items and documents were examined; and conclusions of comprehensive psychological, psychiatric, and three linguistic forensic expert analyses were received, analyzed, and added to materials of the criminal case. The materials of the criminal case comprised eight volumes.


By the sentence of the court, the convict was assessed a punishment in the form of a fine of 300,000 rubles. (tr. by PDS, posted 4 July 2019)



Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 4 July 2019


A 300,000 ruble fine instead of three and a half years in a penal colony that the prosecutor requested was assessed by the Ordzhonikidze district court of the city of Perm against Jehovah's Witness Alexander Soloviev. The sentence was announced on 4 July 2019. The believer insists upon his complete innocence and will file an appeal.


The case against Soloviev was opened in May 2018. The Investigative Committee for Perm territory engaged in the investigation. The indictment was confirmed by Alexander Deryshov, an assistant prosecutor for Perm territory. There were no victims in the criminal case.


What was the essence of the charge? Soloviev was accused of participating in the activity of an organization that had been prohibited by a court, with reference to a decision of the Russian Supreme Court concerning the liquidation of all 396 registered organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses. In 2017 a small group of residents of Perm, who in the past had professed the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, began to conduct with Soloviev discussions about the Bible, according to an assignment of the "E" Center which had received from operatives secret audio taping equipment. Tapes of these discussions were sent by police Lieutenant Colonel K. Ulitin for expert analysis by Aleksei Mosin, a catechist of the Russian Orthodox Church and graduate of the Perm Ecclesiastical Seminary. The expert "found" in Soloviev's words indicators of psychological pressure on a conversation partner, which, in turn, in the opinion of the prosecutor, served as confirmation of the fact that Soloviev "was continuing the activity" of the forbidden organization. He was charged on the article "Participation in the activity of an extremist organization" (part 2, article 282.2 of the CC RF).


Several similar criminal cases against Jehovah's Witnesses have also been opened in Perm and Perm territory. Russian and foreign figures and organizations have unanimously condemned the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. These include the plenipotentiary for human rights in the RF, the Council on Human Rights under the president of the RF, the president of the RF, prominent public figures of Russia, the Foreign Policy Service of the European Union, observers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the World Group on Arbitrary Detentions of the United Nations, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The government of Russia has frequently declared that the decisions of Russian courts for the liquidation and prohibition of Jehovah's Witnesses organizations "do not give an evaluation of the religious teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses and do not contain a restriction or prohibition upon confessing individually the aforementioned teaching." (tr. by PDS, posted 4 July 2019)

Background article:
Jehovah's Witness faces stern penalty in court
June 28, 2019
Russia Religion News Current News Items

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