In the photo: Andrey Danielyan with his wife

Unjust Verdicts

A Court in Rubtsovsk Sent 53-year-old Andrey Danielyan to a Penal Colony for 6 Years for Having Bible Discussions

Altai Territory

On November 7, 2022, Judge Aleksey Bezrukov of the Rubtsovsk City Court of the Altai Territory decided that reading and discussing the Bible was extremism, found Andrey Danielyan guilty and sentenced him to 6 years of imprisonment in a general regime penal colony. The believer was taken into custody in the courtroom.

Joint worship of God with other believers was interpreted by the prosecution as illegal activity with criminal intent. Although there is not a single victim in the case, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence Danielyan to 7 years in prison. The judgment has not entered into force and can be appealed. The believer insists that he is completely innocent.

In May 2021, law enforcement officers conducted a special operation in the Altai Territory, code-named “Armageddon”. At 6 a.m., FSB officers entered Andrey Danielyan's apartment, opening the door with their own key. It turned out that the believer's phone was tapped, and information from his personal computer had been accessed. After the search, Andrey and his wife were interrogated at the investigative department. Two days earlier, a criminal case was initiated against Danielyan on the charge of participating in the activities of an extremist organization. Later, investigator Zavorin reclassified the charge to Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation - organizing the activities of an extremist organization. The believer spent almost a year and a half under a recognizance agreement.

The case went to trial after just over a year of investigation. After five sessions, the court entered the stage of closing arguments. Danielyan pointed out numerous examples of falsifications, inaccuracies, and bias against Jehovah's Witnesses; for example, one of the experts, Mirra Kashaeva, an assistant professor at Altai State University, voiced erroneous stereotypes about Jehovah's Witnesses. The believer was perplexed: “Based on the indictment, one could conclude that it is forbidden to preach, to pray, to discuss spiritual topics and to meet together. Can all this really constitute a crime? And what then are we allowed to do under Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation? It begs the question, how then are believers supposed to worship God?” The court and the investigation did not see the difference between a group of ordinary believers (a religious group), which does not need registration, and a legal entity that no longer exists in Russia. As a result, five men who profess the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses have already been subjected to criminal prosecution in the Altai Territory. In addition to Danielyan, Pavel Kazadaev's case is in court, and the other men are under investigation.

On October 28, 2021, the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation ruled that the divine services of Jehovah's Witnesses, their joint performance of rites and ceremonies, in themselves do not constitute a crime under Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, despite the liquidation of their legal entities.

Case of Danielyan in Rubtsovsk

Case History
In May 2021, in the Altai Territory, security forces conducted a special operation codenamed “Armageddon”. Among the believers facing criminal prosecution was Andrey Danielyan from Rubtsovsk. The apartment of the Danielyan spouses was searched, and they themselves were interrogated. The man was accused of participating in extremist activities and included in the list of Rosfinmonitoring, blocking all his bank accounts and seizing cash collected for repairs. They took a written undertaking not to leave the place from the believer. Later, the investigator reclassified the charge from participation to organizing the activities of an extremist organization. The case went to court in August 2022. After 5 sessions, the court reached the stage of debate of the parties. The prosecutor requested 7 years in prison for Danielyan. In November 2022, the court sentenced him to 6 years in a penal colony. The appellate court upheld the verdict.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Altai Territory
Suspected of:
"He carried out the preaching work ... conducted a prayer for all those gathered and discussed the holding of subsequent meetings."
Court case number:
May 25, 2021
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Department of Internal Affairs of the Federal Security Service of Russia in the Altai Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
Court of First Instance:
Рубцовский городской суд Алтайского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Алексей Безруков
Case History