Elena Chernykh

Unjust Verdicts

In Prokopyevsk, Yelena Chernykh, One of Jehovah's Witnesses, Was Given a 3-year Suspended Sentence for Her Faith. Earlier, the Same Court Had Convicted Her Husband

Kemerovo Region

Yelena Chernykh, a 47-year-old Jehovah's Witness from Prokopyevsk, was found guilty of extremism for continuing to practice her faith. The verdict was passed on April 12, 2024 by Yelena Karamova, judge of the Tsentralniy District Court of Prokopyevsk, who gave the believer a 3-year suspended sentence.

In 2020, the home of Yelena and her husband Yuriy, parents of three, one of whom is a minor, was searched. Then they were interrogated as witnesses in the case of Andrey Vlasov (who is serving time in a penal colony for his faith). The Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kemerovo Region initiated a criminal case against Yelena under Article 282.2(2) of the RF CrC. The investigation and the court considered the practice common for all Jehovah's Witnesses in the world of jointly discussing the Bible and Christian teachings as "participating in the activity of a banned religious organization." According to the investigation, Yelena's actions posed a threat to the state and society, incited interreligious discord, although during the trial not a single fact of a real crime or evidence of intention to commit it was presented.

Speaking in court, in her final statement, Yelena Chernykh said: "I have been a believer for 30 years. For all these years, I have never had any malicious intent, let alone any actions aimed at undermining the constitutional order or security of the Russian Federation."

In September 2023, based on similar charges, the court sentenced Yelena's husband to 3 years of forced labor.

In the Kemerovo Region, 18 Jehovah's Witnesses are being prosecuted for their faith. Two of them are serving sentences in a penal colony for their faith.

The Case of Yelena Chernykh in Prokopyevsk

Case History
In 2020, as part of the case against Andrey Vlasov, searches were carried out in the homes of Jehovah's Witnesses in Prokopyevsk, among them was the couple Yuriy and Yelena Chernykh, parents of a minor son. In May 2023, a criminal case was initiated against unidentified persons. Three months later, Yelena was charged with extremism for carrying out "joint worship … based on the Holy Scriptures (the Bible)." She was made to sign a recognizance agreement. The case went to court in September 2023. Yelena was given a 3-year suspended sentence in April 2024. The court of appeal upheld this decision.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Kemerovo Region
Suspected of:
"carried out joint worship with other adherents, based on the Holy Scriptures (Bible), teaching religion, supporting the main forms of activity in the form of worship"
Court case number:
May 25, 2023
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Department of Internal Affairs of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the city of Prokopyevsk of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Kemerovo Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-26/2024 (1-343/2023;)
Court of First Instance:
Центральный районный суд г. Прокопьевска Кемеровской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Елена Карамова
Case History