Dagestani Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to appeal against suspended sentences

Four Jehovah’s Witnesses* who were sentenced to suspended sentences withdrew their appeals against the verdict, and it came into force, the Supreme Court of Dagestan reported.

The ” Caucasian Knot ” has reported that in November 2022, the Kirovsky District Court of Makhachkala sentenced Arsen Abdullaev, Marat Abdulgalimov and Anton Dergalev to 6.5 years of suspended imprisonment, and Maria Karpova to six years of suspended imprisonment. The court found all four guilty of organizing the activities of an extremist organization. In addition, Abdullayev, Abdulgalimov and Dergalev were convicted for financing a banned organization, and Karpova for involvement in the activities of a banned organization.

The convicts withdrew their appeals against the verdict, an employee of the press service of the Supreme Court of Dagestan told the “Caucasian Knot” correspondent on February 2. “The court, accordingly, stopped the appeal proceedings on the case. The verdict has entered into force today,” he said.

The convicts themselves refused to comment to the “Caucasian Knot” correspondent on the decision to withdraw the appeal. A relative of one of the convicts suggested that the reason for the withdrawal of the appeal could be an unwillingness to participate in further proceedings. “Everyone is tired of endless trials,” he told the “Caucasian Knot” correspondent.

Let us recall that four Dagestan Jehovah’s Witnesses* were detained in June 2019 and charged with extremism. Witnesses for the prosecution in court pointed out that after the ban on the religious organization, Dagestan believers did not hold general meetings, and all local branches were closed. On September 14, 2021, the defendants stated that the examination, which formed the basis of the charge, did not comply with the methods of conducting and the requirements of the law.

It should be noted that in October 2021, the plenum of the Supreme Court of Russia ruled that individual or joint confession of religion, worship and other religious rites and ceremonies should not in themselves be considered the activity of an extremist organization if they do not contain signs of extremism. However, in practice, state prosecutors ignore this decision , Yaroslav Sivulsky, a lawyer for believers in Neftekumsk and a representative of the European Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses, told the “Caucasian Knot” on April 14, 2022.

At the same time, in October 2020, a court in Kabardino-Balkaria acquitted local Jehovah’s Witness* Yuri Zalipaev, who was accused of inciting extremism. In September 2021, the Supreme Court of the Republic awarded him 500,000 rubles in compensation , and the prosecutor apologized to the believer for the criminal prosecution. Acquittals for Jehovah’s Witnesses* are rare in the Russian judicial system, Yaroslav Sivulsky commented at the time on the court’s decision.

On April 20, 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia, at the suit of the Ministry of Justice, recognized the “Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia”* and 395 of its branches as extremist organizations, banning their activities, according to the “Caucasian Knot” certificate ” Jehovah’s Witnesses* – extremists or victims of lawlessness? “. The “Caucasian Knot” covers the consequences of this ban on the thematic page “The Ministry of Justice against Jehovah’s Witnesses *”.

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