Inside Penal Colonies and Detention Centers

The Court Keeps an Elderly Believer From Maykop in a Detention Center for Months. Behind Bars Nikolay Voishchev cannot receive proper treatment


On January 17, 2023, the Maykop City Court refused to release from custody Nikolay Voishchev, a 67-year-old Jehovah's Witness from Maykop, where he has been held for more than 3 months only because of his faith as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. He will stay in the detention center for at least another six months, despite his being diagnosed with an illness.

The judge ignored Nikolay's age, as well as the need for urgent re-diagnosis and emergency treatment, even though the defense provided the court with all the necessary medical documents. According to the treatment plan, the believer should have had a tumor assessed back in October. But instead, the believer is forced to be in a cramped cold cell without proper medical care, while his illness worsens.

In a recent decision, the ECHR ordered Russia to “take all necessary measures to secure the discontinuation of all pending criminal proceedings against Jehovah’s Witnesses ... and release of all Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been deprived of their liberty” (§ 290).

Case of Voishchev in Maykop

Case History
In October 2022, an investigator of the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case on extremism against Nikolai Voishchev, a Jehovah’s Witness from Maykop. The investigation interpreted the discussion of the Bible with fellow believers via video link as extremist activity. A man with a serious illness ended up in jail only because of his faith. The case went to court in December 2022. The case involved the testimony of two secret witnesses and an examination that the defense considers unscientific. The believer was sentenced to 3 years in prison in September 2023.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Suspected of:
"organized and conducted secret meetings together with other members and followers of the religious movement of Jehovah's Witnesses, through personal communication, telephone conversations and the Internet" (from the decision to prosecute as an accused)
Court case number:
October 19, 2022
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Adygea
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-163/2023 (1-801/2022)
Court of First Instance:
Майкопский городской суд Республики Адыгея
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Заурбий Биржев
Case History