Vilen Avanesov with his wife Stella leaving the penal colony

Served Sentences

Vilen Avanesov, Convicted for his Faith in Jehovah God, Was Released After Almost 5 Years Behind Bars

Rostov Region

On February 9, 2024, Vilen Avanesov was released from Penal colony No.3 in Dimitrovgrad, having served his sentence imposed by the court. For talking about God with friends at home, the elderly believer spent 2.5 years in a detention center and more than 2 years in a penal colony.

Vilen served his sentence in the penal colony together with his son Arsen, who will have to spend another year in prison. Both worked in the sewing department. They received several rewards for their hard work. Largely due to Vilen's love for people, he developed friendly relations with his cellmates and the administration. "He was respected in the detention center and respected in the colony," said Vilen's wife, Stella.

The most difficult thing for Vilen was the being separated from his loved ones. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the believer could not see his wife for 1.5 years. "He always tried to maintain a positive attitude, to look cheerful, and this comforted me a lot," said Stella.

During imprisonment, Vilen received many letters, photographs and postcards from all over the world. His wife received also practical assistance. "Our friends proved to be a real protection during times of distress. Nothing stopped them from showing care, love and kindness," she says. "Fellow believers from the city where the penal colony is located became a great support. They took me into their home when I came to visit; every month they took food and medicine to the penal colony, their help is priceless".

In August 2024, the sentence of another defendant in this criminal case, Aleksandr Parkov, who is in penal colony No.10 in the Rostov Region, ends.

The Case of Avanesov and Others in Rostov-on-Don

Case History
Searches, arrests, humiliation and intimidation. In May 2019, Aleksandr Parkov, Vilen and Arsen Avanesov from Rostov were detained by officers of the Investigative Committee for allegedly continuing the activity of the banned organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were placed in a pretrial detention center, where they spent 925 days. The charges against the believers were based on falsifications and testimonies of an agnest provocateur recruited by the FSB. In July 2021, the court sentenced Vilen to 6 years in a penal colony, and Aleksandr and Arsen to 6.5 years. The court of appeal and cassation upheld this decision. Arsen was charged under an additional article – financing the activity of an extremist organization, and his sentence was increased to 7 years. In February 2024, Vilen Avanesov was released, having served his term in full.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Rostov Region
Suspected of:
According to the investigation they continued their activities and led the Local Religious Organization (LRO) of Jehovah's Witnesses, received religious literature, attracted other people to worship, and used living quarters at their places of residence for meetings
Court case number:
May 22, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
First Investigation Department (with deployment in Rostov-on-Don) of the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.3 (1)
Court case number:
1-44/2021 (1-415/2020)
Ленинский районный суд г. Ростов-на-Дону
Владимир Худавердян
Case History