In the photo: Dmitry and Irina Terebilov

Unjust Verdicts

The Court in Kostroma Sentenced Dmitriy Terebilov to 3 Years of a Strict-Regime Colony for Bible Discussions

Kostroma Region

On September 6, 2021, judge of the Sverdlovsk District Court of Kostroma, Ekaterina Molodova, found 41-year-old Dmitry Terebilov guilty of extremism for talking about the Bible and sentenced him to 3 years in a strict regime colony. Before becoming a believer, Dmitry was already in prison, but thanks to the Bible he changed so much that he was released early.

Dmitriy Terebilov insists on his complete innocence and can appeal the verdict. During one of the court hearings, he explained: “Violence is incompatible with the religious canons by which I live. It was thanks to what was written in the Bible that I began to change my life for the better and get rid of bad habits (smoking, foul language, drug abuse). I have a family, which I value very much, so the accusation of undermining family relations sounds ... ridiculous and unfounded. " The believer takes care of his uncle, whom he took to him because he was mistreated.

The active phase of Dmitriy's criminal prosecution began on July 25, 2018, when the security forces searched his apartment. To get into the house, the police and riot police broke down the entrance door. A year later, the security forces again came to the believer with a search. On June 13, 2019, a criminal case was opened against Dmitriy, and in September of the same year he was added to the List of Terrorists and Extremists of Rosfinmonitoring and his bank account was blocked. While the investigative actions and the trial were going on, Dmitriy was under recognizance not to leave for more than two years.

During the trial, it became obvious that the case was fabricated: at the hearings, prosecution witnesses often could not explain their preliminary testimony, they referred to poor memory, their incompetence, or gave directly opposite testimony. In the linguoculturological examination carried out by Farida Akhunzyanova, associate professor of Kostroma State University, words with negative connotations, such as "sectarians" and "sect", were repeatedly addressed to Jehovah's Witnesses. Some of her findings coincided with information from Wikipedia, which raises doubts about the independence and objectivity of the study.

Young spouses Sergey and Valeriya Rayman, who were sentenced to a suspended sentence, took part in the Terebilov case - but now as witnesses. They described Dmitriy as extremely positive. “[Dmitriy] has changed his life for the better and is trying to be a law-abiding citizen. He is a good family man, [...] helps others when they turn to him, ”said Sergey Rayman.

Nevertheless, the court found Dmitriy guilty, after the hearing he was taken into custody.

“There is not a single victim in the Terebilov case - this is already a tradition in cases against Jehovah's Witnesses. The prosecutor insisted that due to the “new crime” Dmitriy should be considered a repeat offender. Before becoming a Jehovah's Witness, he served his sentence in a correctional institution. There he first started to read the Bible. What he learned from it made such positive changes in him that the administration of the colony petitioned for the early release of Dmitriy. For many years he is a law-abiding citizen, but he is again sent to prison. Now, not for a real crime, but for the fact that thanks to which he was reformed - for faith in God, ”said Yaroslav Sivulskiy, a representative of the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Speaking about Jehovah's Witnesses, Natalya Mayorova, a specialist in the study of world religions, during her speech at the Sverdlovsk District Court of Kostroma, emphasized: "Religious beliefs are an internal personal choice, and we have freedom of conscience in our country."

In March 2020, 33 states concerned about the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia demanded that the Russian authorities provide believers with the opportunity to freely practice their religion.

The Case of Terebilov in Kostroma

Case History
In July 2018, police officers and a squad of OMON officers searched the apartment of Dmitry Terebilov, in his absence. A year later, the Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against the believer for participating in the activity of an extremist organization. Soon Terebilov’s home was searched again. The believer was placed under a recognizance agreement and was added to the Rosfinmonitoring list. In September 2020, Dmitry’s case went to court, which a year later sentenced him to 3 years in a strict regime colony. The court of appeal, and then the court of cassation, upheld the verdict. Since February 2022, Terebilov has been serving his sentence in Correctional Colony No. 1 in the Kostroma Region. In April 2023, Dmitry became a defendant in a new criminal case due to conversations about the Bible with another prisoner.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Kostroma Region
Suspected of:
According to the investigation he ”distributed ... items of literature, included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials, which contained information intended to excite religious strife, propounded exclusivity, superiority of Jehovah’s Witnesses teachings and inferiority of those citizens who do not confess this teaching … took part in meetings”
Court case number:
June 13, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
The Central Region Investigation Office of Investigation Department of the Russian Federation Investigation Committee for Kostroma region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-18/2021 (1-375/2020)
Свердловский районный суд г. Костромы
Екатерина Молодова
Case History