The case of Isakov and Minsafin in Kurgan

Case History

In July 2021, Anatoliy Isakov, a disabled person of group II, was prosecuted - the investigation opened a criminal case against him, accusing him of organizing the activities of an extremist organization. The next day, searches were carried out in his apartment and in the country. Isakov has difficulty moving, fights oncology and needs constant intake of potent prescription drugs. Nevertheless, the court sent him to a pre-trial detention center for 1.5 months, interrupting the course of chemotherapy, which is vital for the believer. In August 2021, after a request from the ECHR and human rights activists to Russian instances, the court transferred Isakov from the pre-trial detention center to a ban on certain actions. In June 2023, the case went to court. It is built, among other things, on the testimony of a secret witness.

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    July 13, 2021

    Nikolay Astapov, an investigator for particularly important cases of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kurgan Region, initiates a criminal case under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code against 56-year-old Anatoly Isakov, as well as under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation against 49-year-old Valery Minsafin only because believers profess the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, that is, they read and discuss the Bible with friends. The case is assigned No. 12102370012000107.

    According to the investigation, Anatoly Isakov committed a criminal offense because he "carried out ... religious meetings... including through video conferencing using the Zoom platform."

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    July 14, 2021

    The Isakovs' apartment and country house, as well as their daughter's apartment, are being searched with the participation of officers of the Border Guard Service of the FSB of Russia in the Kurgan and Tyumen regions. Bibles in various translations, Bible reference books and dictionaries, books by Russian religious scholars, autobiographies of Jehovah's Witnesses who were prisoners of Nazi concentration camps, as well as letters, photographs, notebooks with personal notes, bank cards and documents are seized from the believer. In addition, the security forces take away the printer, electronic devices and storage media.

    During the search, one of the security officials demands that the believer's wife, Tatyana, "tell us about everything," threatening her and her daughter with dismissal from their jobs.

    The believer is a disabled person of group II: he is struggling with oncology, needs regular hospitalization (approximately every 2 months) and constant intake of potent prescription drugs. Despite his diagnoses, he is left in custody in a temporary detention facility, where he spends the night.

    That same morning, they came to the house of the Minsafin family with a search. The first unexpected guests are noticed by their minor daughter. Opening the door, Valery sees 10 people. Investigator for especially important cases of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Kurgan Region, Alexei Tretyakov, presents a court order to conduct a search.

    The security forces consistently search every room, as well as the basement, bathhouse, summer kitchen, car and land. They seize electronic devices, bank cards, flash drives, a printer, Bibles in various translations, a Bible game, an encyclopedia, and personal records. A technician tries to unlock smartphones and tablets.

    From stress, Valeriy's wife has high blood pressure. The security forces allow Valeriy to eat and pack his things, after which they take him to the Investigative Committee for interrogation. There he is provided with a lawyer.

    The investigator for especially important cases of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Kurgan Region, T. V. Kononova, detains and sends the believer to the temporary detention facility in Kurgan for 48 hours.

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    July 15, 2021 Search

    Nikolay Astapov officially prosecutes Anatoliy Isakov as a defendant under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

    The judge of the Kurgan City Court A. N. Schneider chooses a measure of restraint for Anatoly Isakov in the form of imprisonment in a pre-trial detention center for 2 months. The court does not take into account the serious state of health of the accused.

    In the pre-trial detention center, prisoners are obliged to follow the requirements of the pre-trial detention center, including physical activity, which Isakov cannot perform due to his health condition: he can hardly move, and it is beyond his power to walk in the ranks and keep the speed of movement.

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    July 16, 2021

    Investigator Nikolay Astapov decides to release Valery Minsafin from custody due to the lack of grounds for further restriction of his freedom.

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    July 19, 2021

    The lawyer submits an appeal to the Kurgan Regional Court against the chosen measure of restraint. The detention of a believer in a pre-trial detention center, according to the lawyer, is subject to cancellation.

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    July 21, 2021

    The believer's lawyer files an appeal with the Department of Health of the Kurgan Region against the chosen measure of restraint and asks for it to be canceled. The detention of a believer in a pre-trial detention center poses a threat to his life and health. In the complaint, the lawyer notes: "Such conditions cause systematic and daily pain, comparable to the torture and torture of a person in old age, since the pain intensifies and becomes unbearable at times, and the threat to life and health becomes real." The arrest interrupts the chemotherapy that the believer has been undergoing since July 5, 2021. The treatment was supposed to end on July 25, 2021. All this poses a threat to the life of Anatoly Isakov.

    He also asks for the prosecution of the doctor who misled the court about Isakov's state of health, concluding that he could be detained.

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    July 28, 2021

    The defense re-submits a petition to the Kurgan Regional Court demanding that Isakov's preventive measure be changed or canceled without delay.

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    August 8, 2021

    Lawyers file a complaint with the ECHR about the detention of a believer despite his serious health condition.

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    August 10, 2021

    The ECHR sends a request to the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation. Lawyers also appeal to the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Kurgan Region, after which the Commissioner initiates an urgent inspection.

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    August 28, 2021

    The court releases Anatoly Isakov from the pre-trial detention center and, at the request of the investigator, chooses a measure of restraint for the believer in the form of a ban on certain actions.

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    August 31, 2021
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    November 19, 2021

    Judge of the Kurgan City Court of the Kurgan Region Sergey Lushnikov issues a search warrant for 27-year-old Roman Kuchin. According to investigators, Roman is one of the "members of the congregation" and his home may contain items that are important for the criminal case against Anatoly Isakov.

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    November 26, 2021

    At 7:10 a.m., A. A. Kravchenko, senior investigator of the Kargapol Interdistrict Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee, accompanied by two FSB officers, searches the place of registration of Roman Kuchin's wife. The security forces find her parents at home. Having received no information about the whereabouts of Roman and his wife, they inspect electronic devices, but do not seize anything.

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    March 27, 2023 Case dismissed

    The case against Valery Minsafin was dismissed. The charges against him have been dropped.

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    June 7, 2023 Case went to court

    The case goes to the Kurgan City Court of the Kurgan Region. It will be considered by judge Sergey Lytkin.

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    July 6, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The court establishes the identity of Anatoliy Isakov and explains his rights. The prosecution briefly states the essence of the charge.

    Anatoly Isakov and his lawyer express their attitude to the charges.

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    July 24, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The state prosecutor requests the disclosure of the protocols of the interrogation of prosecution witnesses who did not appear. The defense objects. The court rejects the prosecutor's request.

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    August 4, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation

    5 prosecution witnesses are interrogated, after which, at the request of the prosecutor, the protocols of their interrogation are read out. Three women do not confirm their testimony. One of the witnesses states: "There are many things written that I did not say, much not from my words." Another witness claims that he does not know Isakov.

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    September 11, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation

    The court is questioning three witnesses for the prosecution. They use Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

    The prosecution files a motion to adjourn the hearing, to forcibly bring one of the prosecution witnesses and to re-summon witnesses who have not previously appeared in court. The judge grants the petition.

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    September 20, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation

    Four prosecution witnesses are being questioned. One of them was one of Jehovah's Witnesses until 2016. He notes that their goal is "just to bring people together so that everyone lives in peace." At divine services, he did not hear statements inciting hatred and enmity from the defendants.

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    October 11, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation

    Two prosecution witnesses are questioned, after which the court reads out the protocols of their interrogations. Both women do not corroborate their testimony because they do not remember what they said. One of them justifies this by the fact that she was in a state of shock.

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    October 30, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation

    The prosecution files a motion to read out the testimony of two deceased witnesses, the defense objects. The court rejects the petition, but decides to attach it to the case file. The testimonies of witnesses are read out.

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    November 20, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Secret witness

    The prosecution petitions for the interrogation of the secret witness Olenin without visual control. The defense objects, but the court grants the motion.

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    December 1, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation Secret witness

    The secret witness Olenin is interrogated. He says that believers used them to study the Bible, sing songs and pray. He also notes: "Rights, freedoms and legitimate interests were not violated during the meetings."

    Olenin refuses to answer some questions, fearing that his identity may be revealed in this way.

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    December 13 and 27, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The prosecution presents its evidence and reads out documents from 10 volumes of case materials. The defense draws attention to the fact that the prosecution does not indicate exactly how these documents confirm Isakov's guilt.

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    January – March 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    During four sessions, the defense presents evidence - reads excerpts from the materials of the case, which has 20 volumes.