Judge overrules lower court's decision for Jehovah's Witness


Court decided that the model father of a family may be at liberty

Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 26 August 2019


On 22 August 2019, an appeals court of Khanty-Mansi changed the measure of restriction for Andrei Sazonov from house arrest to prohibition of certain activities. Judge Natalia Pashaeva ruled that "the decision of the court of first instance was not based on objective information and violates articles of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the RF."


Now the believer is forbidden to communicate with "persons who have something to do with the criminal case," or to send and receive correspondence, or to use the internet. Meanwhile the case against Andrei Sazonov, which was opened on 31 January 2019, continues to be investigated. As before, he faces up to ten years incarceration for faith in God based simultaneously on two parts of article 282.2 (parts 1 and 2) of the Criminal Code of the RF.


Earlier an assistant chief of the investigation department of the Investigative Committee of Russia (SKR) for the KhMAO, M. Kartoev, whose purview the criminal case is in, sent to the court a petition for extending the term of house arrest of Andrei Sazanov until 30 September 2019. However Judge Pashaeva came to the conclusion that the decision of the court of the first instance for extending the measure of restriction of house arrest had not been based on objective information and simultaneously violates several articles of the criminal procedure code. In particular, there is no evidence that Andrei Sazonov interfered with the investigation or plans to do so in the future. In addition, the court of the first instance did not take into account the condition of the health of the defendant, who needs an operation. She called attention to the positive accounts of the defendant's character, his social adaptability, and the existence of his own housing and family.


Andrei Sazonov has experienced all facets of a criminal prosecution. Earlier he spent 20 days in a SIZO and 178 days under house arrest with a leg bracelet and now he is deprived of the possibility of communicating freely. All of this is happening because of the fact that the authorities consider that the peaceful profession of religion is "extremist activity." Andrei is an engineer by occupation, he is married, and he is raising a son and daughter.


At the present time, in the Khanty-Mansi autonomous oblast, 22 believers are subjects of criminal cases based on religious confession. Meanwhile the government of Russia has affirmed that decisions of Russian courts for liquidation and prohibition of their organization "do not give an assessment of the religious teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses and do not contain restriction or prohibition of confessing said teaching individually." Jehovah's Witnesses have nothing to do with extremism. (tr. by PDS, posted 26 August 2019)

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