Relatives and friends came to support the defendants on the day of the appeal hearing

Unjust Verdicts

Court of Appeal in Samara Upheld the Verdict of Four Believers: 7 Years Imprisonment

Samara Region

On May 20, 2024, the Samara Regional Court upheld the harsh sentence of Aram Danielyan, Denis Kuzyanin, Sergey Polosenko and Nikolay Vasilyev, who will have to spend 7 years in a penal colony for peaceful religious activity.

In the appeal, the defense drew the court's attention to the fact that the believers were charged with organizing the activity of a Samara legal entity liquidated by a separate court decision in 2014. Therefore, the verdict could not be based on the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, only issued a few years later, in 2017. Peacefully singing religious songs, praying, and pronouncing the name of God, Jehovah, cannot be considered as evidence of extremist actions. Despite the arguments of the defense, the court denied the appeal of the defendants, who attended the hearing via video link from the pre-trial detention center.

The court's decision has deprived the believers of the opportunity to take care of their families and fully participate in the upbringing of their children. Aram Danielyan's son is not even three years old, and Denis Kuzyanin has a daughter of primary school age. Despite the difficulties, the believers and their wives try not to lose their positive attitude.

Russian courts continue to send Jehovah's Witnesses to penal colonies — as of April 2024, 158 believers had received prison sentences. 30 of them must spend 7 years or more behind bars.

The Case of Polosenko and Others in Samara

Case History
In December 2021, at least 10 homes of Jehovah's Witnesses were searched in Samara. In one of the apartments, the security forces tortured and beat believers. Three men were arrested and taken into custody. An investigator of the FSB of Russia initiated a criminal case against Sergey Polosenko, Denis Kuzyanin, Nikolay Vasiliyev and Aram Danielyan, who was detained and sent to a pretrial detention center three weeks later, on charges of continuing the activity of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia in the Samara Region. After about 300 days in detention, the believers were released from custody under a ban on certain actions. In April 2023, the case went to court. In January 2024, the prosecutor requested that the believers each be sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony. At the same hearing, the court sentenced them to 7 years imprisonment. In May, the court of appeal upheld the ruling.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Samara Region
Court case number:
December 14, 2021
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Federal Security Service of Russia in the Samara Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-7/2024 (1-105/2023)
Court of First Instance:
Самарский районный суд г. Самары
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Дмитрий Дерунов
Case History