Photo: Special forces breaking down the door to the apartment of believers (Polyarny, April 18, 2018)

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

Mass searches of believers in Magadan

Magadan Region

The morning of March 20, 2019, for Jehovah's Witnesses in Magadan began with an invasion of their homes by FSB officers. Searches were carried out in at least 4 houses of believers, but there are suspicions that searches were carried out in another 5 houses, and their residents were taken to the FSB for interrogations. According to law enforcement officers, 9 new criminal cases have been initiated in the city for believing in God.

During the searches, all electronic devices were seized from citizens: tablets, smartphones, laptops, cameras, all memory cards and flash drives, as well as notebooks and other personal belongings. The search in the Solntsev family took place in the presence of their 9-year-old child. Nothing is known about the new arrests.

Earlier, on May 30, 2018, a criminal case was opened in the city and 4 believers were sent to jail for several months. Now all four are under house arrest.

Law enforcers mistakenly mistake citizens' religion for participation in the activities of an extremist organization. Prominent public figures of Russia, the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, the President of the Russian Federation, as well as international organizations - the European Union External Action Service, observers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights - drew attention to this problem. Jehovah's Witnesses have nothing to do with extremism and insist on their complete innocence. The Russian government has repeatedly stated that the decisions of the Russian courts on the liquidation and prohibition of organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses "do not assess the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, do not contain a restriction or prohibition to practice the above teachings individually."

Update. On April 9, 2019, it became known that 9 criminal cases initiated against 3 men and 6 women were merged by the investigation into one proceeding and attached to the case of Puida and others.

Case of Puyda and Others in Magadan

Case history
After a series of searches in Magadan in May 2018, Konstantin Petrov, Yevgeny Zyablov and Sergey Yerkin were placed in a pre-trial detention center. On the same day in Khabarovsk, Ivan Puyda was searched. He was arrested and then taken 1600 km away to the Magadan pre-trial detention center. The believers spent 5-8 months behind bars, and then almost as long 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, including the elderly. The investigator regarded the holding of peaceful worship services as organizing the activities of an extremist organization, participating in it and financing it. In almost 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 kept secret records of peaceful worship.

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:
trial in Court of First Instance
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