Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

Homes of Jehovah's Witnesses Were Searched in Izhevsk. One of Them Was Placed Under House Arrest


On December 14, 2022, in Izhevsk investigative actions were conducted at two addresses where Jehovah's Witnesses live. A criminal case has been opened against two believers, 33-year old Yevgeniy Stefanidin and 49-year old Aleksandr Votyakov.

Representatives of the Investigative Committee invaded the homes of the believers early in the morning. Electronic devices, hard drives, data storage, etc. were confiscated from them.

Lieutenant of Justice Artem Kholmogorov, a senior investigator of the Investigative Committee, charged Yevgeniy Stefanidin and Aleksandr Votyakov with organizing the activity of an extremist organization (part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). According to the believers, the investigator considered it a crime to “organize and hold unlawful religious meetings . . . study articles from the book 'New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures' . . . that is, a publication that is part of the worldwide Bible educational activity carried out by Christian Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

The Stefanidins are raising a young child and Yevgeniy has a disability.

The day after the searches, on December 15, the court placed Aleksandr Votyakov under house arrest.

In Udmurtia, already five Jehovah's Witnesses, from Izhevsk and Votkinsk, are defending their innocence in court. In the summer of 2022, the ECHR issued a landmark ruling in favor of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, which noted in particular: “Both the applicants’ religious activities and the content of their publications appear to have been peaceful in line with their professed doctrine of non-violence” (§157).

Case of Votyakov and Stefanidin in Izhevsk

Case History
In December 2022, searches were carried out in Izhevsk at the homes of local believers. Two men were detained. Aleksandr Votyakov was placed under house arrest, which lasted about six months, and Yevgeniy Stefanidin received a recognizance agreement. The stress he experienced back in April 2021 due to the first search provoked the growth of a tumor in the chest, the young man received a group II disability. The Investigative Committee interprets collective reading and discussion of the Bible as a continuation of the activities of a liquidated extremist organization. In August 2023, the case of the believers went to court.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Suspected of:
"organized the convening and holding of religious meetings ... carried out preaching activities."
Court case number:
December 13, 2022
Current case stage:
trial in court of first instance
Department of Internal Affairs of the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Udmurt Republic
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-46/2024 (1-504/2023)
Court of First Instance:
Первомайский районный суд города Ижевска
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Оксана Назарова
Case History