The ‘Nakhimovskiy District Court’ of Sevastopol kept on considering a criminal case against three Jehovah’s Witnesses: Volodymyr Maladyka, Yevhen Zhukov and Volodymyr Sakada. The “prosecutor” requested for the defendants 7.5 years in custody with an additional ban on membership in the non-governmental associations for 8 years.
According to the organization, the lawyer presented arguments proving that the actions of believers lacked not only the elements, but even the very event of the crime.
At the previous session, FSB officer Dmitriy Shevchenko, who was in charge of investigation, was interrogated. He stated that “no signs of extremism and facts of incitement of religious hatred” were revealed in their actions. Despite this, the “prosecutor” requested 7.5 years in custody for men.
The next session of the “court” will take place on September 27. “Judge” – Olga Berdnikova.
The preliminary date for the announcement of the verdict is October 3, 2022.
- To remind: in October 2020, security men searched at least 9 residents of Sevastopol. On the same day, the FSB opened a criminal case against Volodymyr Maladyka, Yevhen Zhukov and Volodymyr Sakada under the article “organizing the activities of an extremist organization” (part 1 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).
- On October 2, 2020, the “Leninskiy District Court” of Sevastopol detained four members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization: Volodymyr Maladyka, Yevhen Zhukov and Volodymyr Sakada and Ihor Shmidt.
As reported by the Crimean Human Rights Group, on April 20, 2017, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation declared Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization and banned its activities on the territory of the Russian Federation. On August 16, 2017, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation added Crimean units of ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ to the list of extremist organizations. In 2018, criminalization of ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ persecution started. In 2020, the first imprisonment sentences were passed on the members of the ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organization.
The CHRG considers these lawsuits as religious persecution and a violation of the right to freedom of religion. According to international law, Russia has no right to apply its criminal law in the occupied territory and prosecute persons who are not criminals in terms of Ukrainian law. This is a war crime that falls under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.