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Crimes Against Believers

At Least Six Searches of Jehovah's Witnesses Took Place in the Stavropol Territory. A Criminal Case Was Brought Against an 82-Year-Old Visually Impaired Woman

Stavropol Territory

On November 26, 2021 searches were conducted in the resort town of Zheleznovodsk. Officers from the FSB and the Center for Counteracting Extremism entered the homes of what they believe to be Jehovah's Witnesses. A criminal case was initiated against Zinaida Minenko, 82, and she had to sign not to leave agreement.

Investigations in the town began around 7 a. m. and lasted from 1 to 5 hours. In several cases, according to believers, operatives planted flash drives with unknown content as well as books from the Federal List of Extremist Materials in their homes. Electronic devices, media, photographs, personal records, and bank cards were taken from the believers; one of the victims had a large amount of personal savings.

Update. In the early morning, the security forces came to Zinaida Minenko, who will turn 82 in January, and read her a search warrant. The believer is a visually impaired group I. The surprise of the elderly woman, who almost can’t see, found it difficult to understand what was happening. A year ago, she was widowed, and now she lives alone, so there was no one to help her. The security officials said that they “found” a prohibited publication on her. However, according to Zinaida, it was a toss. Without giving her the opportunity to eat or drink water, the operatives took her away to search the garage. The elderly believer became very cold, and later she became ill with her heart. She was taken to a hospital where she was treated and then taken home. According to Zinaida, no one took into account her limitations and age, she felt insulted, not understanding why she was being treated this way.

It also became known that the searches affected three women who were not Jehovah's Witnesses.

Back in 2016, believers in Stavropol Territory reported that security forces were planting prohibited items on them. Sometimes this was clearly recorded by surveillance cameras. As a result, criminal cases were brought against 14 Jehovah's Witnesses from this region for their belief in God. 90-year-old Rimma Vaschenko from Nevinnomyssk was the oldest "extremist" in Russia. She died in January 2021, not having had time to defend her good name in court.

Case of Minenko in Zheleznovodsk

Case History
In November 2021, a criminal case was opened against Zinaida Minenko from Zheleznovodsk, a visually impaired person of group I. It was based on the pensioner’s conversations about the Bible with three people. The Investigative Committee regarded these conversations as participation in the activities of an extremist organization. Minenko’s apartment was searched, and the next day she was taken for a 4-hour interrogation. Later, the charge was reclassified from participation to involvement in the activities of an extremist organization. In early March 2022, the believer was charged and signed not to leave the place. Shortly thereafter, Minenko’s case went to court. The prosecution witness told the court that she came to Zinaida to discuss the Bible on her own initiative, “they did nothing illegal.” In October 2023, the believer was sentenced to a fine of 330 thousand rubles.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Stavropol Territory
Suspected of:
"conducted religious performances and worship services [...] persuaded and involved in joining the organization by conducting conversations about the need to make voluntary contributions to the organization, which, if necessary, were intended for needy members of the banned organization"
Court case number:
November 25, 2021
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Stavropol Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1.1)
Court case number:
1-3/2023 (1-76/2022)
Court of First Instance:
Железноводский городской суд Ставропольского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Станислав Бобровский
Case History