Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

In Altai, in two cities, Jehovah's Witnesses are being searched, there are detainees

Altai Territory

Since the morning of May 27, 2021, security guards have been searching the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in Barnaul, the capital of Altai Territory, and Rubtsovsk, about 300 km away. At least eight people are being detained for interrogation. According to preliminary data, a criminal case has been opened against a 24-year-old believer.

Update.

It has become known that mass searches and detentions took place in the cities of Barnaul, Zarinsk and Rubtsovsk, the settlement of Telmenka and the villages of Troitskoye and Shakhi during a police special operation codenamed "Armageddon". Believers reported the use of physical force by security forces. At least 17 people were taken for interrogation to the UVS and the Extremism Combating Center. Ekaterina Popova, a judge of the Oktyabrsky District Court of Barnaul, issued a warrant for searches in Barnaul and four other locations. Police Major Yaroslav Medvedev was among the leaders of the operation.

At 6 a. m. the law enforcers burst into the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses. Electronic devices, data carriers, biblical literature, books and personal records were seized from them. In some cases, law enforcement officers broke down the doors and forced believers to lie on the floor. During the interrogations there was psychological pressure. Investigators asked questions: "How long have you been reading the Bible? What is written there? Is Jesus the son of God? How long have you been a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses "sect"? Have you participated in Zoom conferences? How do you preach? How do you attend meetings?" The believers used Article 51 of the Russian Constitution.

The special operation was carried out within the criminal case that was initiated on May 11, 2021 against 24-year-old Pavel Kazadaev, a resident of Novokuznetsk. Senior investigator Evgeny Kozuchenko saw in the actions of the young man signs of a crime under part 2 of clause 282.2 of Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (participation in activities of extremist organization). Pavel and his wife were detained and brought to Barnaul, 350 kilometers away from home. The believer was sent to custody. The next day, an investigator petitioned the court for a measure of restraint to be chosen for Pavel in the form of house arrest. As a result, he was released on his own recognizance not to leave.

Law enforcement officers also searched the place of registration of Pavel Kazadaev in the village of Lugovoi, where his relatives live. Presenting themselves as the police, the operation officers and OMON riot police entered the house. They also searched the garage, car, bathhouse, and yard. Due to the stress, the elderly woman had to call an ambulance.

Four other families of Jehovah's Witnesses were searched and questioned in Rubtsovsk. One of the worshippers had his notebook and cell phone hacked and then confiscated in his presence. According to him, the operatives also took his personal savings of 100,000 rubles.

Altai Krai has become the 66th region of Russia in which law enforcement agencies prosecute Jehovah's Witnesses. Security officials perceive joint meetings of believers to read and discuss the Bible, as well as conversations about God, as the activities of an extremist organization, although no Russian court has banned the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, and the authorities have emphasized that believers are allowed to gather for collective worship.

The case of Kazadaev in Barnaul

Case History
In May 2021, the Investigative Committee accused Pavel Kazadaev of participating in the activity of an extremist organization, “including through discussions.” A massive raid, named “Armageddon”, was conducted at the homes of the believers in the Altai Territory. The law enforcement officers searched the house of Pavel’s relatives in the village of Lugovoe, as well as his apartment in Novokuznetsk (Kemerovo Region), after which he was taken to Barnaul for interrogation. After 24 hours in a detention center, he signed a recognizance agreement. At the end of June 2022, the criminal case went to court. In April 2023, Pavel Kazadaev was given a 3-year suspended sentence with restriction of liberty for 6 months and a probation period of 2 years. In August, the Court of Appeal toughened the sentence, replacing the suspended sentence with imprisonment in a penal colony for 3 years.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Altai Territory
Locality:
Barnaul
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, Pavel Kazadaev, "being an active participant in an extremist organization, carried out actions to support the existence of the assembly in the Altai Territory, including through interviews."
Court case number:
12102010022000023
Initiated:
May 11, 2021
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Altai Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-18/2023
Court of First Instance:
Индустриальный районный суд г. Барнаула Алтайского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Дмитрий Маликов
Case History

The Case of Reshetnikov and Others in Barnaul

Case History
Pensioner and veteran of labor, Mikhail Reshetnikov, became one of the victims of the police special operation “Armageddon”, which took place in May 2021 in Barnaul and surrounding cities. The security forces searched the believer’s apartment, seizing greeting cards from his wedding, electronic devices and personal notes. After the search, the investigator interrogated him in the FSB building and placed him under a recognizance agreement. Two days earlier, a criminal case was initiated against the believer for participating in the activity of an extremist organization. Later, in October 2022, the investigation initiated a criminal case under the same article against pensioner Anatoliy Sarychev and veteran of labor Yuriy Kolotinskiy. They also were placed under a recognizance agreement. In December 2022, the criminal case went to court. Testimony against the believers was given by a secret witness. In May 2024, the court gave a 2-year and 3-month suspended sentence.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Altai Territory
Locality:
Barnaul
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, "carried out activities to support the existence of the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses Barnaul, including through conversations ... as well as direct participation in events held by representatives of this organization.
Court case number:
12107010001000020
Initiated:
May 25, 2021
Current case stage:
verdict did not take effect
Investigating:
Branch of the Federal Security Service of Russia in the Altai Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-3/2024 (1-68/2023; 1-826/2022)
Court of First Instance:
Ленинский районный суд г. Барнаула Алтайского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Любовь Курушина
Case History