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The Brutal Attack by the Law Enforcers Did Not Break the Believers in Irkutsk

Irkutsk Region

In the early morning hours of October 4, 2021, dozens of law enforcement officers raided the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Siberian city of Irkutsk. Some of the raids were accompanied by beatings and abuse.

Tatiana Kalina: "At 6:15 a.m., they broke our window and kicked it in. My husband thought that we were being visited by thieves. He went to the window, but was immediately thrown against the glass, on the floor. His legs, elbows, and hands were all cut and bleeding.

Merinov Nikolay: "My wife and I woke up to continuous ringing of the doorbell. I only remember how I opened the door, and then I remember already lying on the floor. I felt that my tooth was chipped off."

Merinova Liliya: "And I hear how they started beating him."

Merinov Nikolay: "My wife was screaming as she cried that they didn't use force on me."

Moish Ilyana: "They broke into the apartment through the window. Started yelling at me that: "Lie down with your face on the floor." In response, she said: "What is this? I have a small child! Why are you breaking in like that?" The child was very frightened. "

In some cases security officers used torture to make believers incriminate themselves or give out personal information. In the house of the Razdobarovs family, the security officers stripped the head of the family Anatoly naked and ordered him to lie on the floor.

Anatoly Razdobarov: "And when I tried to raise my head up, they hit me in the face and said: Don't look at us. They kicked me somewhere in the kidney area and on the head. Then masked officers came and started to lift me up by my arms. My hands were tied like this, and they started to lift me up, even lifting me off the ground. It was just terribly painful. One of them sat on my legs, and the other one tried to abuse me with a bottle. Then they left, and for a while I was just left lying naked on the floor. The doors were open and it was very cold. "

After the searches, seven Jehovah's Witnesses were sent to the detention center: Sergey Kostoev, Nikolai Martynov, Yaroslav Kalin, Mikhail Moish, Aleksey Solnechny, Sergey Vasilyev and Andrey Tolmachev. The next day a court of law was held, which chose a measure of restraint for the believers. About 300 people came to the courthouse to support their friends.

Kalina Tatiana (wife of pretrial detainee Yaroslav Kalin): "I am very grateful to my brothers and sisters who stood outside the court for 12 hours with their children in the cold and supported their brothers who were in court."

Valentina Martynova (daughter-in-law of Nikolay Martynov, who is in pre-trial detention): "It was in general. Immediately it was felt that we were in a brotherhood, we were not alone".

Kalina Tatiana: "The words that the brothers and sisters spoke, you could see that they came from the depths of our souls, that they were just breathing with you."

As a result, six of the believers were taken to the pre-trial detention center. The brutal search in Irkutsk was a test of faith for local Jehovah's Witnesses. However, they firmly believe that these events united them and strengthened their faith.

Evgeny Martynov (son of Nikolai Martynov, who is in pre-trial detention): "When I read about this happening in other cities, I often wondered how I would behave in this situation. Well, this happened, and I realized that Jehovah really supported me."

Merinova Liliya: "I understood that angels were here with us, because the way we held on throughout this search, I understood that it was only with Jehovah."

Valentina Martynova: "I had complete peace of mind, complete peace of mind when the search was going on.".

Yevgeny Martynov: "I felt it for myself, and I can be sure to the end that any other brother and sister who serves Jehovah today and does it sincerely, with all his heart, whatever trials may be in his life, he can cope with them, unequivocally."

The Case of Martynov and Others in Irkutsk

Case History
In October 2021, a series of searches took place in Irkutsk and the Irkutsk Region, which were accompanied by assault and brutal beatings of peaceful the believers. Jehovah's Witnesses Yaroslav Kalin, Sergey Kosteyev, Nikolay Martynov, Mikhail Moysh, Aleksey Solnechny, Andrey Tolmachev, and Sergey Vasilyev were accused of extremism only for their faith. After searches and interrogations, they were detained; six of them were sent to a pretrial detention center and one was placed under house arrest. Two months later, law enforcement officers conducted two more searches: in the village of Askiz (Republic of Khakassia) in the home of Denis Sarazhakov and in the city of Mezhdurechensk (Kemerovo Region) in the home of Igor Popov. Both of them were arrested, taken more than 1500 km to Irkutsk and placed in custody. In December 2022, the case of the believers went to court. In January 2024, the court sentenced them to various terms of imprisonment in a penal colony, from 3 to 7 years, satisfying the prosecutor’s request.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Irkutsk Region
Suspected of:
being "adherents of the religious association 'Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia', organized collective religious services, consisting of sequential performances of songs and prayers to Jehovah God, study of articles" (from the decision to bring as an accused)
Court case number:
October 4, 2021
Current case stage:
verdict did not take effect
2nd Investigation Department of the 3rd Department for the Investigation of Particularly Important Cases of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Irkutsk Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.3 (1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-6/2024 (1-105/2023; 1-857/2022)
Court of First Instance:
Октябрьский районный суд г. Иркутска
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Андрей Славинский
Case History