From left to right: Anatoliy Sarychev, Yuriy Kolotinskiy with his wife Nataliya, Antonina and Mikhail Reshetnikov. May 2024

Unjust Verdicts

Court Considered Three Pensioners From Barnaul Extremists and Gave Them Suspended Sentences for Their Beliefs

Altai Territory

On May 13, 2024, the Leninskiy District Court of Barnaul found Mikhail Reshetnikov, 74, Yuriy Kolotinskiy, 69, and Anatoliy Sarychev, 74, guilty of participating in the activity of an extremist organization. Judge Lyubov Kurushina gave each of them a 2-year and 3-month suspended sentence.

The believers received such punishment for participating in peaceful meetings for worship that are not prohibited by law. They do not agree with the verdict and have the right to appeal it.

In May 2021, a special operation codenamed "Armageddon" took place in Barnaul and surrounding cities. One of the searches took place at the home of Mikhail Reshetnikov, a veteran of labor, and a criminal case was initiated against him. In the fall of 2022, new defendants appeared in the case: Yuriy Kolotinskiy, a veteran of labor who has a disability, and Anatoliy Sarychev. Both were added to the Rosfinmonitoring list and placed under a recognizance agreement.

Throughout the trial, which lasted about a year and a half, the prosecution tried to prove that peaceful believers are dangerous criminals. Anatoliy Sarychev objected to this in his final statement saying that they only made use of "the legal right to freedom of religion provided for in Article 28 of the RF Constitution." Mikhail Reshetnikov noted: "Your honor, we share the principles from the Word of God with people. Can this really be extremism?" Yuriy Kolotinskiy emphasized: "During the hearings, we listened to the recordings of meetings for worship, which are held peacefully and with dignity. And what is discussed at them can be called extremism prevention."

All the defendants said that during the trial they were supported by friends who came to the courthouse in any weather, greeted and accompanied them with applause at each hearing and encouraged them with warm words.

At the moment, 9 Jehovah's Witnesses are being prosecuted for their faith in the Altai Territory. Of the 807 believers repressed by Russian law enforcement officers, 215 are over 60.

The Case of Reshetnikov and Others in Barnaul

Case History
Pensioner, labor veteran Mikhail Reshetnikov became one of the victims of the “Armageddon” police special operation, which took place in May 2021 in Barnaul and surrounding cities. The security forces searched the believer’s apartment, seizing greeting cards from his wedding, electronic devices and personal records. After the search, the investigator interrogated him in the FSB building and placed him on recognizance not to leave. Two days earlier, a criminal case was opened against the believer for participating in the activities of an extremist organization. Later, in October 2022, the investigation initiated a criminal case under the same article against pensioner Anatoliy Sarychev and labor veteran Yuriy Kolotinskiy. They also signed a written undertaking not to leave. In December 2022, the criminal case went to court. Testimony against the believers was given by a secret witness. In May 2024, the court handed down a verdict of 2 years and 3 months of suspended imprisonment, and in July, the appeal approved this decision.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Altai Territory
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, "carried out activities to support the existence of the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses Barnaul, including through conversations ... as well as direct participation in events held by representatives of this organization.
Court case number:
May 25, 2021
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Branch of the Federal Security Service of Russia in the Altai Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-3/2024 (1-68/2023; 1-826/2022)
Court of First Instance:
Ленинский районный суд г. Барнаула Алтайского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Любовь Курушина
Case History