Friends meet Yuriy Savelyev at the exit from the colony. July 2023

Served Sentences

Sixty-Nine-Year-Old Yuriy Savelyev Was Released From a Penal Colony in the City of Rubtsovsk

Novosibirsk Region,   Altai Territory

On July 19, 2023, Yuriy Savelyev was released from Penal Colony No. 5 in the Altai Territory; he has fully served his sentence. Dozens of friends came to meet the believer.

Sixty-nine-year-old Yuriy Savelyev is one of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia whose criminal prosecution for his faith has been dragging on since 2017. The elderly believer was under covert video surveillance. In November 2018, a criminal case was initiated against Yuriy, and in the same month, he ended up in a pre-trial detention center, where he stayed for more than two years until the verdict was announced. In December 2020, the court sentenced Savelyev to six years in a penal colony. Since one day of pre-trial detention counts as one and a half days in a general regime colony, Yuriy actually spent 760 days in a correctional facility after the verdict.

He served this term in Rubtsovsk. The administration of the colony, on far-fetched grounds, repeatedly subjected the believer to harsh conditions—a punishment cell and a cell-type room. Yuriy spent a total of nine months in such conditions. In addition, the believer was sent for compulsory "medical treatment," which he did not need. In the fall of 2021, Yuriy's son died. In the spring of 2023, Savelyev had a severe case of pneumonia.

Savelev was supposed to leave the colony on March 25, 2023. However, on the basis of a court order, his detention was extended until July 19 of the same year. The defense does not agree with this decision and continues to appeal against it.

Despite these difficulties, Yuriy did not become discouraged while waiting for his release. He says that prayer and reading the Bible were of great help. He was also encouraged by letters of support from all over the world: Savelyev received about 20,000 letters during his imprisonment.

So far, 126 of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia have been sentenced to actual prison terms for their faith, 69 of whom have been in prison. In total, more than 2,000 searches have already been conducted in the homes of believers in Russia, and more than 730 people have faced criminal prosecution for their faith.

Case of Savelyev in Novosibirsk

Case History
Six years in a penal colony—this was the harsh sentence that 66-year-old Yuri Savelyev from the city of Novosibirsk received for his faith. The man was arrested in November 2018 during searches in the homes of believers. He was in pre-trial detention until his sentencing in December 2020. The appellate court, and later the cassation court, upheld the verdict. In May 2021, Yuriy Savelyev was transferred to Penal Colony No. 5 in the city of Rubtsovsk, Altai Territory. In the colony, the administration, with no legitimate basis, tried to force the believer into treatment for alcoholism. On far-fetched grounds, the elderly man spent about nine months in harsh conditions of detention. Yuriy was released in July 2023.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Novosibirsk Region
Suspected of:
according to the investigation he unlawfully organised the activity of the religious organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Novosibirsk (with reference to the decision of the Russian Supreme Court on the liquidation of all 396 registered organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Court case number:
November 7, 2018
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Novosibirsk Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
Ленинский районный суд Новосибирска
Case History