The case of Ivshin in Kholmskaya

Case History

In April 2020, the FSB opened a case against Alexander Ivshin, an engineer with two higher educations and a caring grandfather of 8 grandchildren. According to investigators, the believer organized a video link of worship in the neighboring town of Abinsk with the joint singing of biblical songs. For this he was charged under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. At the height of the pandemic, a series of searches were carried out in the homes of believers in the villages of Kholmskaya and Pavlovskaya. After the interrogation, investigator Komissarov took Ivshin on his own recognizance. Against the background of the stress experienced, the 62-year-old believer and his wife had a hypertensive crisis. In August 2020, Ivshin’s car was seized “to ensure the execution of a possible sentence.” By the end of 2020, the case was referred to the Abinsk District Court of the Krasnodar Territory for consideration by Judge Aleksandr Kholoshin, who sentenced the believer to 7.5 years in prison. In the pre-trial detention center, the believer fell ill with covid. On April 15, 2021, the Krasnodar Regional Court upheld the verdict. In June 2021, the believer was transferred to a colony in the city of Rostov-on-Don.

  • #
    March 4, 2015

    The Krasnodar Regional Court makes a decision to recognize the Local Religious Organization (LRO) of Jehovah's Witnesses in Abinsk as an extremist organization and liquidate it.

  • #
    August 5, 2015

    The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation upholds the decision of the Krasnodar Regional Court to liquidate the LRO of Jehovah's Witnesses in Abinsk.

  • #
    April 23, 2020

    The Investigation Department of the FSB of Russia for the Krasnodar Territory is initiating a criminal case against Aleksandr Ivshin under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

    According to investigators, in the period from March 6, 2020 to April 23, 2020, 62-year-old Aleksandr Ivshin organized religious performances and worship in Abinsk via video link with joint singing of biblical songs.

    The Oktyabrsky District Court of Krasnodar gives permission for searches in the home of Alexander Ivshin and others.

  • #
    April 29, 2020 Search

    In the villages of Kholmskaya and Pavlovskaya of the Krasnodar Territory, searches are being carried out in 9 houses of believers, including Aleksandr Ivshin. Security forces seize electronic devices, Bibles in various translations, and books written by religious scholars. After the search, Ivshin was taken to the Krasnodar FSB, where he was charged under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation in connection with organizing the activities of the Local Religious Organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in Abinsk.

    After the interrogation, investigator O. I. Komissarov chooses a measure of restraint for Aleksandr Ivshin in the form of a written undertaking not to leave the place.

  • #
    August 5, 2020

    The judge, at the request of the investigator, issues a decision on the arrest of Alexander Ivshin's car. The judicial act states that this is necessary to ensure the execution of a possible sentence.

  • #
    February 4, 2021

    During the hearing, the judge refuses to satisfy the defendant's request to terminate the criminal case. Aleksandr was also denied the admission of ECHR decisions.

    A prosecution witness, a woman who lives near the site where religious meetings were held, is being questioned. She gives Alexander a positive characteristic: he does not smoke, does not drink, is polite and helps her in solving various issues.

    Another witness, from whom the FSB filed a statement, when asked if he knew the defendant, replies that he did not know him, but only saw him from afar. He reports only about his guesses that Alexander is the head of the LRO.

    The prosecutor shows a photo of Aleksandr with his fellow believers, without explaining how, in his opinion, it proves his involvement in the organization of the extremist community, given that the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses is not prohibited in Russia.

  • #
    February 5, 2021

    During the court session, audio recordings containing prayers are played.

    The prosecutor reads out several positive characteristics of the accused.

  • #
    February 10, 2021 Prosecutor requested punishment Final statement First Instance Sentence

    The prosecutor requests a sentence of 8 years in a colony for Aleksandr Ivshin.

    The believer, speaking with the last word, tells the court that his Bible-based religious beliefs encourage him to develop love for people, and this is the exact opposite of extremism. He also refutes common misconceptions about Jehovah's Witnesses, in particular accusations that believers destroy families.

    "I get the feeling that the prosecution is trying me not for extremism, but for the fact that I simply continue to practice the peaceful religion of Jehovah's Witnesses," the 63-year-old believer said and asked the court to acquit him.

    The court announces the verdict: to find him guilty and impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of 7 years and 6 months to be served in a general regime colony.

    Immediately after the verdict was announced, Aleksandr Ivshin was transferred to the Federal State Institution of Detention Center No. 3 of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia at 33 Parkhomenko Street, Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Territory, Russia, 353905.

  • #
    March 24, 2021

    Aleksandr Ivshin is being transferred from the Krasnodar pre-trial detention center to the Syzran Detention Center No. 2 of Russia in the Samara Region. It is almost 1500 km from his house. The believer is awaiting a court of appeal.

  • #
    April 13, 2021
  • #
    April 16, 2021
  • #
    April 21, 2021 Court of Appeal

    Judge of the Krasnodar Regional Court Victoria Konofieva upheld the sentence to Aleksandr Ivshin in seven and a half years in a general regime colony.

  • #
    April 29, 2021

    Aleksandr Ivshin is taken out of the Syzran pre-trial detention center without informing the prisoner's relatives of his destination. According to paragraph 2 of Article 75 of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation, "the administration of the pre-trial detention center is obliged to inform one of the relatives of the convict's choice about where he is going to serve his sentence."

  • #
    May 10, 2021

    Only after a week and a half of searching for Alexander, his relatives manage to find out that the believer is in SIZO-4 in the Samara region, located in the city of Tolyatti at the address: Tolyatti, st. Khryashchevskoye highway, 3. This is a transit destination where Aleksandr can stay for up to 45 days, and already the sixth place of imprisonment where a believer has been transferred over the past 2 months.

  • #
    June 1, 2021

    It becomes known that Alexander Ivshin is in pre-trial detention center No. 1 of the Federal Penitentiary Service in the Ryazan region. This is the seventh detention facility since the sentencing on February 10, 2021.

    Alexander is visited by a lawyer. According to him, the believer looks seriously aged and thinner. According to Alexander, in Novorossiysk he suffered a hypertensive crisis, besides, he is very exhausted by night journeys from one pre-trial detention center to another. You have to stay in the transit chambers for 6-12 hours, it's smoky and there is nowhere to sit. Currently, there are a lot of people in the room where Alexander is kept. Some of the neighbors were unfriendly at first, but Alexander's generosity and kind attitude towards them changed the situation for the better. The administration also began to treat the believer with respect.

  • #
    June 9, 2021

    The believer manages to inform his wife that he was transferred to the next (eighth in a row) transit point - SIZO-5 of Rostov-on-Don at the address: st. Tunnel, 4.

  • #
    June 13, 2021 Life in prison

    Aleksandr Ivshin is transferred to correctional colony No. 10, located at 22 Kazachy Lane, Rostov-on-Don. Here he will serve a sentence for believing in God - 7.5 years in a general regime colony.

  • #
    June 22, 2021 Life in prison

    The lawyer visits Aleksandr Ivshin in correctional colony No. 10, located on the banks of the Don River.

    The believer is in a quarantine ward along with 20 other prisoners. According to the regime of the colony, the bedrooms are closed during the daytime and there is no way to lie down.

    In the colony, Aleksandr lost a lot of weight, as he is worried about heart problems and a recent viral disease. Alexander is registered for vaccination against COVID-19. According to him, the administration makes this a condition for long visits with his wife.

    The believer has a small Bible, but the colony staff threatened that he could "add a term" if he discussed what he had read with someone.

    To date, only 5 letters have been sent to Ivshin. This may be due to his being in the quarantine department.

    In the colony, Aleksandr is respected and known as a deeply religious person.

  • #
    August 9, 2021 Life in prison

    The lawyer visits Aleksandr Ivshin again in penal colony No. 10. The believer's physical and emotional condition has improved, although his legs go numb during daily construction.

    Now the believer is kept in a barracks designed for 18 people. In addition to him, 10 more prisoners are serving their sentences there.

    After about two months of stay in the colony, the believer began to receive letters of support, which had not previously been missed for unclear reasons. He is also allowed daily telephone conversations with his wife. He worries that all the care of a private house fell on her shoulders.

  • #
    March 4, 2022 Life in prison
  • #
    May 5, 2023 Life in prison

    Alexander Ivshin was treated by a dentist, for which he is very grateful. The attitude of the administration towards the believer is good. He receives regular parcels from his family.

  • #
    December 19, 2023 Life in prison Letters

    66-year-old Aleksandr Ivshin, who is serving a sentence in a colony for his faith, is experiencing serious health problems. Recently, his blood pressure dropped sharply, causing him to lose consciousness. He was given the necessary medications, after which the pressure returned to normal.

    Ivshin does not work. He is kept in a barracks for the disabled. Relations with convicts and the administration are friendly.

    In November 2023, the believer had a long-term date with his wife. According to him, the food in the colony is good. He regularly receives parcels, letters and necessary medicines in the right quantity, for which he is very grateful. This helps him not to lose his optimistic attitude, although his eyesight continues to deteriorate.