Astrakhan Region: prosecutor demands eight years in colony for three Jehovah’s Witnesses

Rinat Kiramov, Sergey Korolyov, and Sergey Kosyanenko, the Jehovah’s Witnesses*, whose case is being considered by the Akhtubinsky District Court, are under threat of long freedom deprivation terms under the charges of extremism. The prosecutor has demanded eight years in colony for each of them.

The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that on November 18, 2021, it became known that the above three residents of the Astrakhan Region aged 34 to 60 were suspected of extremism. According to investigators, they organized meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses*.

Kiramov, Korolyov and Kosyanenko are accused of organizing and financing an extremist organization. According to investigators, from July 2017 to November 2021, being elders in the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses and knowing that its activities were banned by the court, they organized religious meetings in the city of Znamensk and in the Akhtubinsky District. All the three have been kept in custody since November 2021.

The prosecutor has demanded for them long imprisonment terms – eight years in colony for each. Besides, he asked to impose two-year-long restrictions on them after serving their terms and forbid them to participate in the work of public organizations for four years, the human rights project “OVD-Info”** has reported.

The detention of Rinat Kiramov, Sergey Korolyov and Sergey Kosyanenko in November 2021 was preceded by rigorous, hours-long searches at believers’ homes in Akhtubinsk and Znamensk. Law enforcers broke down doors, damaged property, laid men and women down on the floor. Prior to this, believers were shadowed.

In the Astrakhan Region, a total of eight Jehovah’s Witnesses* have faced criminal prosecution after the decision of the Russian Supreme Court dated April 20, 2017, which recognized the “Administrative Centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia” and 395 of its branches as extremist organizations and banned their activities. Five of them – Rustam Diarov, Evgeny Ivanov, Olga Ivanova, Sergey Klikunov and Anna Safronova – are already serving their terms in colonies; three other believers – Rinat Kiramov, Sergey Korolyov and Sergey Kosyanenko – are awaiting the outcome of the trial under arrest at the SIZO (pre-trial prison).

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