Photo: Valentina and Roman Baranovsky

Unjust Verdicts

The verdict came into force: Valentina Baranovskaya, 70, Is Sentenced to a Penal Colony for Two Years, Her Son is Sentenced for six years. They Are Jehovah's Witnesses


On May 24, 2021, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Khakassia denied Valentina and Roman Baranovsky their appeals against the lower court's unprecedentedly cruel sentence. For the first time a 70-year-old woman was sentenced to actual imprisonment.

Valentina Baranovskaya suffers from a variety of illnesses. She suffered an ischemic stroke in July 2020 and needs constant medical supervision. Roman is her only son, she depends on his help.

The verdict came into force. Believers still insist on their innocence. They have the right to appeal the verdict in cassation, as well as in international instances.

The first instance sentence was handed down on February 24, 2021. The assistant prosecutor of Abakan Svetlana Shestakova asked to sentence 69-year-old Valentina Baranovskaya to 5 years in prison and a year of restricted freedom, Roman - to 8 years in a colony with the same restriction. Judge of Abakan city court Elena Shcherbakova sentenced Valentina Baranovskaya to 2 years in prison under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code (participation in an extremist organization), and her son Roman - to 6 years in prison under Part 1 of the same article (organization of an extremist organization).

Late in the evening of April 10, 2019, armed law enforcement officers in masks invaded the homes of at least three residents of Abakan. On the same day, criminal charges were filed against him and his mother.

One of the prosecution witnesses stated in her testimony that she "dislikes ... [the Baranovskiy family] because they are Jehovah's Witnesses." Meanwhile the right to choose and practice any religion is enshrined in Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, and the statement of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights of 20.06.18 says: "The [Supreme] Court decision does not contain conclusions about banning the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses as such".

Case of Baranovskiy in Abakan

Case History
In April 2019, the investigator of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation A. Pachuev opened a criminal case against Roman Baranovsky and his mother, Valentina. At the same time, armed law enforcement officers searched their house. Believers from Abakan were accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization and participating in it. In the summer of 2020, the case was submitted to the Abakan City Court. Against the background of severe stress, Valentina had a stroke. In February 2021, Judge Yelena Shcherbakova found the believers guilty and sentenced Roman to 6 years in prison and Valentina to 2 years. The 70-year-old believer became the first woman Jehovah’s Witness in Russia to be sentenced to actual imprisonment. The Supreme Court of Khakassia upheld this decision. In the fall of 2021, despite Valentina’s serious illnesses, the court denied her early release. Her repeated petition was granted, and on May 4, 2022, Valentina was released. Roman continues to serve his sentence in a penal colony.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Suspected of:
[to be determined]
Court case number:
April 10, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
[to be determined]
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-34/2021 (1-707/2020)
Абаканский городской суд
Елена Щербакова
Case History