Yelena Kozhevnikova

Unjust Verdicts

Another Sentence for Faith in Tolyatti. The Court Gave a Suspended Sentence to 62-year-old Yelena Kozhevnikova

Samara Region

On March 4, 2024, Irina Onuchina, judge of the Central District Court of the city of Tolyatti, found Yelena Kozhevnikova guilty of extremism and gave her a 2-year suspended sentence for "actively participating in the activity of the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses through video conferencing."

The prosecutor had requested 4 years of imprisonment for the believer.

Regarding the charges, Kozhevnikova stated that she does not pose any public danger, as she respects people of any nationality and religion as well as the laws of the state. "This what the Bible teaches, which for me is the most important law," the believer highlighted. "I do not think that talking about God and Bible principles in any way violates the constitutional order or threatens state security."

The criminal prosecution of Yelena began in May 2023, following searches that took place simultaneously at several addresses of Jehovah's Witnesses in Tolyatti. The Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against the believer, and she was placed under a recognizance agreement. Already within 2 months, the case went to court. The charge was based on the testimony of a secret witness and hidden video recordings of meetings for worship.

In the Samara Region, 10 Jehovah's Witnesses have already been prosecuted, one of whom was sentenced to 8 years in prison for their faith, and four more to 7 years in a penal colony.

The Case of Kozhevnikova in Tolyatti

Case History
In May 2023, the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Tolyatti were searched. Yelena Kozhevnikova became a defendant in a criminal case for her faith. She was made to sign a recognizance agreement. She was accused of participating in the activity of an extremist organization only because she gathered with friends to discuss Bible teachings. The basis for initiating a criminal case was hidden video recordings of meetings for worship, which were carried out for 2.5 years. In July 2023, the case went to court. The prosecutor requested 4 years in a penal colony for Yelena. In March 2024, the court issued a 2-year suspended sentence.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Samara Region
Suspected of:
"In an unspecified period of time ... being in a place unidentified by the investigation, being a citizen of the Russian Federation, she joined the religious organization "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" and local religious organizations that are part of its structure [...] Organized the production and distribution of paper media containing the ideology of the above-mentioned religious organization" (from the Decision on bringing as an accused).
Court case number:
May 15, 2023
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Samara Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-45/2024 (1-525/2023)
Court of First Instance:
Центральный районный суд г. Тольятти
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Ирина Онучина
Case History