Photo: law enforcement officers after the storming of the building of Jehovah's Witnesses in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, November 2016

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

The Third Criminal Case for Faith in Kamchatka

Kamchatka Territory

On December 2, 2018, in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, a group of more than 10 armed law enforcement officers in masks invaded the home of a local resident who was receiving guests in his house that day. All 13 people in the house were suspected of reading the Bible together (officially holding "collective religious speeches and services", "distributing extremist literature", "routine training in the postulates of the religious association Jehovah's Witnesses", "watching videos of a banned religious structure") and taken for interrogation to the investigative department. It became known that a criminal case was initiated against 44-year-old local resident Sergey Ledenev under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization of the activities of an extremist organization), and a written undertaking not to leave was taken from him.

This is at least the third criminal case for faith initiated in Kamchatka against citizens who are suspected of professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses.

The case of the Popovs in Vilyuchinsk (Kamchatka Territory) was initiated on July 25, 2018 under Parts 1 and 1.1 of Article 282.2 (organization of the activities of an extremist organization and involvement in the activities of an extremist organization). On July 30, 2018, a series of searches were carried out in the city, Mikhail and Elena Popov were arrested. Later, the measure of restraint was mitigated. Mikhail spent 11 days behind bars, Yelena - 12 days behind bars and under house arrest. The investigation is ongoing.

The case of the Bazhenov spouses and others in Yelizovo (Kamchatka Territory) was initiated on August 17, 2018 under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization of extremist organization activities). On August 19, 2018, searches were conducted in the city in 4 apartments of citizens who are suspected of professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. Konstantin Bazhenov and his wife Snezhana, as well as 71-year-old Vera Zolotova, were sent to a temporary detention center. After 2 days in the isolation ward, the women were released. Later, Konstantin Bazhenov was also sent on his own recognizance not to leave (he was released from custody by an appeal decision of the court), having spent 11 days behind bars.

Russian law enforcement officers mistakenly mistake the joint religion of citizens for participation in the activities of an extremist organization. Prominent public figures of Russia, as well as the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, have already drawn attention to this problem. Believers insist on their complete innocence.

Case of Ledenyov in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

Case History
“They liquidated a legal entity, but they are persecuting an individual. If a hospital is closed, doctors are not judged for being doctors.” So a peaceful believer from Kamchatka, Sergey Ledenyov, had to explain the obvious in court. In December 2018, a criminal case was opened against him under Article 282.2 (1) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The investigator accused Ledenyov of organizing extremist activities, imputing “planned training in the postulates of the religious association Jehovah’s Witnesses.” At a preliminary hearing, the court returned the case to the prosecutor, but the supervisory authority eventually insisted that the case be considered in court. At the hearings in the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky City Court, chaired by Natalia Lychkova, witnesses, a religious scholar, and the defendant himself repeatedly emphasized the peacefulness of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their incompatibility with extremism. Nevertheless, the prosecutor demanded that the court imprison Ledenyov for 6 years in a colony. In November 2020, the court sentenced him to 2 years of suspended imprisonment. On January 19, 2021, the appellate court upheld the verdict. On August 19, 2022, the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky City Court expunged Sergey’s criminal record ahead of schedule.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Kamchatka Territory
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:
December 2, 2018
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Kamchatka Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
Court of First Instance:
Петропавловск-Камчатский городской суд Камчатского края
Лычкова Наталья Геннадьевна
Case History