Vilen Avanesov with his wife Stella are leaving the penal colony

Served Sentences

Vilen Avanesov, Convicted of Believing in Jehovah God, Was Released After Almost Five 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 pre-trial detention center and more than 2 years in a penal colony.

In the penal colony, Vilen served his sentence together with his son Arsen, who will have to spend another year in prison. Both were involved in the sewing industry. For their hard work, they received several rewards. Largely due to Vilen's philanthropy, he developed friendly relations with his cellmates and the administration. "He was respected in the pre-trial detention center, respected in the colony," said Vilen's wife, Stella.

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

In prison, Vilen received many letters, photographs and postcards from all over the world. His wife was also provided with practical assistance. "Our friends proved to be a real protection during the disaster. Nothing stopped them from showing care, love and kindness," she says. "Fellow believers from the city where the penal colony is located have become a great support. They received me at home when I came on visits, every month they handed over food and medicine to the penal colony, their help is invaluable".

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, expires.

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 activities of the banned organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were placed in a pre-trial detention center, where they spent 925 days. The accusation of believers was based on falsifications and testimonies of a provocateur recruited by the FSB. In July 2021, the court sentenced Vilen to 6 years in prison, and Aleksandr and Arsen to 6.5 years. The Court of Appeal and Cassation upheld this decision. Arsen was charged with another article - sponsoring the activities 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