Illustrative photo

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

Searches of Jehovah's Witnesses Took Place in Taganrog. Believers Were Detained

Rostov Region

Early in the morning of December 7, 2021, searches were carried out at the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in the port city of Taganrog. Detained Aleksandr Skvortsov is subjected to criminal prosecution for his faith again: he was convicted in the high-profile “Case of 16”.

A group of 8 law enforcement officers came to 59-year-old Aleksandr Skvortsov. When the believer opened the gate, two masked security forces threw him to the pavement. The search lasted 2.5 hours, after which Skvortsov's country house was searched. The believer was arrested. Soon the court decided to place him to a detention center.

In addition to Aleksandr Skvortsov, three other men who were previously convicted for their faith in the "Case of 16" were among the victims. In total, investigative actions were carried out at 14 addresses, where more than 30 people live, whom the investigation considers to be Jehovah's Witnesses. At least 15 of them were interrogated at the FSB, the Internal Affairs Directorate, the 1st and 2nd police stations in Taganrog. Among the victims was a disabled woman of group III. One of the believers had a hypertensive crisis due to stress. Law enforcement officers seized electronic devices, postcards and photographs from citizens. Several people were taken in for questioning.

During the searches, the security forces behaved differently: in some cases, they damaged property, smoked and used foul language. In others, they behaved politely, tactfully, neatly putting things in their place.

To spouses living with an elderly mother, armed security forces broke into the yard, breaking the gate. With shouts of "everyone on the floor!" they twisted the hands of the head of the family and knocked him down. Falling, the man hit his head. The riot policeman put the muzzle of a machine gun to the believer and sat on his back. The search for 5 hours was carried out by 11 people. According to the victims, the security forces “turned everything upside down, tore off the wallpaper and broke the furniture.” The believers were kept barefoot in a house with an open door and an attic. They were threatened with arrest and "hard labor in Siberia." Because of what was happening, a 70-year-old woman felt bad and the security forces called an ambulance for her. Although the head of the family had recently undergone heart surgery, he was not allowed to take medicine for a long time. After the search, the man was taken under escort for interrogation to the FSB building, kneeling on the floor of the car. According to the believer, the investigator exerted psychological pressure on him, citing convictions against Jehovah's Witnesses in Rostov-on-Don.

Update. On May 18, 2022, 45-year-old Valeriy Tibiy, who was subjected to a search in December 2021, was detained and placed in a temporary detention facility. Shortly before this, the believer found his name on the list of terrorists and extremists of Rosfinmonitoring. It is expected that on May 19 the court will choose a measure of restraint for him.

After the search, another married couple was taken for interrogation to the police station, where they were kept in the basement for some time. The couple recall that the security forces, among other things, threatened to "leave them in this basement where no one would find them" if they did not admit that they were Jehovah's Witnesses. The interrogation lasted a total of 2 hours.

In the FSB building, the interrogations were conducted by Major Roman Nesterenko, who had previously communicated with local believers, pretending to be interested in the Bible, and kept secret recordings of conversations on spiritual topics. He asked believers about Aleksandr Skvortsov. During interrogations, the victims used Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

Describing the experience, one of the believers shared: “It is very unpleasant and humiliating that we, law-abiding citizens, have been made criminals and break into our homes without dawn. Then it’s scary to live in your own house.” Despite everything, believers try to remain calm and positive.

Religious repressions of Jehovah's Witnesses in Taganrog have been going on for more than 10 years. In March 2021, Aleksandr Skvortsov already had a search, after which he discovered a tracking device.

The Case of Skvortsov and Others in Taganrog

Case History
Aleksandr Skvortsov is one of those convicted in the high-profile “Case of 16”. Shortly after the believer had served his sentence in full, the security forces searched his house. Six months later, in December 2021, searches were carried out at the homes of 30 residents of Taganrog. Aleksandr was taken for interrogation and detained. In March 2022, Valeriy Tibiy also became a defendant in the criminal case. He was sent to jail despite being seriously ill. The third defendant in the case, Vladimir Moiseyenko, ended up in pre-trial detention in July of the same year. Investigators accused all three of organizing the activity of an extremist organization. The case went to court in November 2022. During the hearings, it turned out that the FSB had been monitoring them since 2016, and an undercover agent recorded his conversations about the Bible with the believers. In June 2023, Skvortsov and Moiseyenko were sentenced to 7 and 6 years in a penal colony, respectively, and Tibiy was given a 6-year suspended sentence. The court of appeal, and later the court of cassation, upheld this decision.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Rostov Region
Suspected of:
"organized the activities of the religious organization of the LRO of Jehovah's Witnesses "Taganrog", recognized as extremist and liquidated" back in 2009.
Court case number:
December 7, 2021
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate for the city of Taganrog of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Rostov Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-43/2023 (1-829/2022)
Court of First Instance:
Таганрогский городской суд Ростовской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Георгий Серебряников
Case History