Not long before the verdict, a group of friends came to the courthouse to support the convicts. December 2023

Unjust Verdicts

In the Krasnoyarsk Territory, Aleksandr Polozov and Stepan Shevelev Received 6 Years of Suspended Sentence for Peaceful Beliefs

Krasnoyarsk Territory

On December 29, 2023, Norilsk City Court Judge Sergey Kurunin sentenced two local Jehovah's Witnesses, Aleksandr Polozov and Stepan Shevelev, to 6 years of suspended sentence. According to the prosecution, they entered into a "criminal conspiracy" to study the Bible.

The criminal prosecution of the men began back in October 2019, when special police surrounded the camp site, where believers were resting with friends. A criminal case was initiated against Aleksandr Polozov under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization of the activities of an extremist organization), and in May 2021, Stepan Shevelev became his second defendant.

Alexander Polozov spent three months in a pre-trial detention center, and in March 2020 he was included in the list of terrorists and extremists of Rosfinmonitoring. Aleksandr is very grateful to his fellow believers for financial assistance after blocking bank cards. He was also encouraged by numerous letters: "Someone wrote where he had been and what he had seen ... Stories of interesting places seemed to push the walls of the prison apart, and I "traveled". Stepan Shevelev said: "Our friends understand that sometimes we need emotional support, and they do everything to encourage us."

In June 2021, the case went to court. In 2022, it was returned to the prosecutor for lack of corpus delicti. A new trial of the criminal case began in July 2023. Again, the prosecutor was unable to provide evidence of the defendants' guilt. Polozov was also credited with words that he did not pronounce. Despite this, the prosecutor requested 6 years in prison for believers.

Shevelev Stepan and Ksenia. Norilsk, December 2023
Shevelev Stepan and Ksenia. Norilsk, December 2023
Aleksandr Polozov and his wife, Svetlana. Norilsk, December 2023
Aleksandr Polozov and his wife, Svetlana. Norilsk, December 2023

In his last speech, Polozov noted: "I am a rescuer of the 5th category. More than once I risked my life to save the lives of other people and was noted for it ... My profession does not give me the right to choose whether or not to save a person, only guided by the criteria, whether he is a believer or not, whether he is my friend or my enemy. All lives are valuable in the eyes of God, and therefore in mine too. Against this background, any accusation of extremism against me looks absurd."

Shevelev said: "I have had the opportunity to communicate with many believers, including Muslims and Orthodox priests. But I did not consider any of them to be beneath me. The fact that we have different religious views does not give me the right to judge them. Otherwise, it would be contrary to my views."

The believers have the right to appeal the verdict in the appellate instance.

In the Krasnoyarsk Territory, five of Jehovah's Witnesses have already been sentenced to prison terms, and in total, more than 30 Jehovah's Witnesses have been subjected to religious persecution in this region.

Case of Polozov in Norilsk

Case History
In October 2019, special forces surrounded a camp site in Norilsk, where about 50 people gathered for a friendly meeting. Some of them were interrogated. The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against Stepan Shevelev and Aleksandr Polozov, accusing the believers of organizing the activities of a banned organization. They were searched. Polozov was arrested and sent to a pre-trial detention center for 90 days, after which he was taken on recognizance not to leave. The same measure of restraint was chosen for Shevelev. In June 2021, the case of the believers went to court. The prosecutor requested a 6-year suspended sentence. The judge returned the case of Polozov and Shevelev to the prosecutor, not seeing corpus delicti in their actions. In July 2022, the Krasnoyarsk Regional Court approved this decision. However, in May 2023, the case went back to court. This time, the prosecutor requested 6 years in prison for the believers. In December 2023, the court sentenced Polozov and Shevelev to 6 years suspended each.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Krasnoyarsk Territory
Suspected of:
According to the investigation he “organized meetings ... in compliance with distinctive —  for this association — actions expressed in religious speeches, services, and propaganda of the activities of the banned organization ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’”
Court case number:
October 20, 2019
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Krasnoyarsk Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
Норильский городской суд Красноярского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Сергей Курунин
Case History