Photo: Ivan Puida, Sergey Yerkin, Evgeny Zyablov

Criminal Investigation and Trial

In Magadan, after 129 days in pre-trial detention, three believers were placed under house arrest

Magadan Region

On October 5, 2018, the Magadan Regional Court decided to soften the measure of restraint for 65-year-old Sergey Yerkin, 41-year-old Yevgeny Zyablov and 41-year-old Ivan Puida and transferred them to house arrest. They were arrested on May 30, 2018 by officers of the Magadan Region Directorate of the FSB of Russia.

Earlier, on August 3, 2018, the court sent under house arrest another defendant in this case, 31-year-old Konstantin Petrov, who was also arrested on May 30.

All four face up to 10 years in prison under the article "organization of the activities of an extremist community" (part 1 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). After the Russian Supreme Court liquidated and declared "extremist" all 396 organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses, law enforcement agencies across the country mistakenly interpret peaceful meetings of believers as "extremist activity." A total of at least 37 people were sent to prison (pre-trial detention center or temporary detention facility), most of them, 21 people, are still in pre-trial detention, the rest of the preventive measure was mitigated. At the same time, in the ECHR, the Russian Government argues that the decision of the Supreme Court and the appellate ruling by which it was upheld "do not assess the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, do not contain a restriction or prohibition to practice the above teaching individually" (par. 91). Dozens of human rights activists, as well as the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation , express concern about the growing religious repression.

The Case of Puyda and Others in Magadan

Case History
After a series of searches in Magadan in May 2018, Konstantin Petrov, Yevgeniy Zyablov and Sergey Yerkin were placed in a pretrial detention center. On the same day in Khabarovsk, the home of Ivan Puyda was searched. He was arrested and then taken 1600 km away to a pretrial detention center in Magadan. The believers spent 2 to 4 months behind bars, and then were placed under house arrest. In March 2019, the FSB conducted another series of searches. The number of defendants in the case reached 13, including 6 women, and elderly. The investigator regarded the holding of peaceful meetings for worship as organizing, participating and financing the activity of an extremist organization. In nearly 4 years of investigation, the case against 13 believers grew to 66 volumes. It went to court in March 2022. At the hearings, it became clear that the case was based on the testimony of a secret witness – an FSB informant, who secretly recorded peaceful meetings for worship. In March 2024, the believers were given suspended sentences from 3 to 7 years.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Magadan Region
Suspected of:
according to the investigation, together with others he conducted religious services, which is interpreted as “organising the activity of an extremist organisation” (with reference to the decision of the Russian Supreme Court on the liquidation of all 396 registered organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Court case number:
May 30, 2018
Current case stage:
verdict did not take effect
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Magadan Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1), 282.3 (1)
Court case number:
1–6/2024 (1-12/2023, 1-220/2022)
Court of First Instance:
Магаданский городской суд Магаданской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Татьяна Белаева
Case History