Andrey Danielyan participates in the session of the Altai Regional Court via video link from the pre-trial detention center (January 2023)

Unjust Verdicts

Court of Appeal in Barnaul Upheld Andrey Danielyan's Sentence. He Will Spend Six Years in a Penal Colony for Believing in Jehovah God

Altai Territory

On January 26, 2023, the Altai Regional Court upheld the verdict against Andrey Danielyan—six years in a penal colony. Reading and discussing the Bible was once again equated with extremism. The verdict has entered into force. The believer still insists on his innocence and can file a cassation appeal against the verdict.

In November last year, the court of first instance convicted the believer. “The court committed significant violations of the criminal procedural law and the right to defense,” the lawyer notes in the appeal. “The criminal law was applied incorrectly, the conclusions do not correspond to the actual circumstances of the case.”

The believer himself says: "The indictment does not quote... any statements attributed to me, or the dates, times and places of their expression." Thus, it remains unclear which exact passages from the convict's conversations  were considered extremist by the prosecution.

During the search, bank cards were seized from the Danielyans, as well as personal savings which he and his wife were saving to repair their country house. Some time later, the believer's property was seized. Later, during the interrogation, the investigator tried to put pressure on Andrey so that he would incriminate himself and cooperate with the investigation “for the sake of his wife’s well-being”.

The European Court clarified that “the joint study and discussion of liturgical texts by members of the religious group of Jehovah's Witnesses is a recognized form of practicing one's religion during worship and teaching.” The ECHR reiterated that the right to practice one's religion “in community with others” has always been considered an integral part of freedom of religion (§ 268).

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