Case of Dubovenko and Litvinyuk in Armyansk

Case History

In August 2021, the FSB initiated a criminal case against Crimeans Aleksandr Litvinyuk and Aleksandr Dubovenko, accusing them of organizing the activities of an extremist organization. A few days later, their homes were searched. Litvinyuk was detained and interrogated. Dubovenko, who was absent on the day of the search, was later also detained. His home was searched again. The believers spent more than a year under house arrest. The case went to court in March 2022. It was based on the testimony of a secret witness; the judge refused to declassify the identity of this witness. During the trial, the judge repeatedly denied pensioner Litvinyuk’s requests to visit a doctor; she also denied the request to attach 27 documents as evidence of the defendants’ innocence. In addition, during the questioning of defense witnesses, she interrupted them and expressed her negative attitude towards the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In December 2022, the court sentenced the believers to six years in a penal colony. The appellate court upheld this sentence.

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    August 2, 2021

    Vitaliy Vlasov, senior investigator of the Investigative Department of the FSB of Russia for the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, is initiating a criminal case under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code against two residents of the Crimean city of Armyansk: 60-year-old Aleksandr Litvinyuk and 48-year-old Aleksandr Dubovenko. The believers are accused of "using the Zoom video conferencing software" to "attract new members of the [banned] organization." The case was assigned the number 12107350001000113.

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    August 5, 2021

    In Armyansk, a series of searches have been carried out since early morning in at least 8 houses of believers. Security forces arrive in minibuses and cars without license plates. They try to get into one of the apartments by calling representatives of public utilities to block the sewerage.

    After 9-hour searches in the homes of Litvinyuk and Dubovenko, who is currently not at home, computers, personal records mentioning the Bible, and title documents for the apartment are seized.

    Aleksandr Litvinyuk is detained and taken away 140 km from his home, to Simferopol.

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    August 6, 2021

    Judge of the Kiev District Court of Simferopol Andrey Dolgopolov places Alexander Litvinyuk under house arrest until October 1, 2021.

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    August 9, 2021 Search

    The security forces detained Aleksandr Dubovenko and took him to Simferopol, to the FSB Directorate for the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. At this time, law enforcement officers are conducting a second search in his home, where only Alexander's wife is located. They again seize electronic devices. Late in the evening, the believer is taken home.

    Judge of the Kiev District Court of Simferopol Yevgeny Pronin sends Alexander Dubovenko under house arrest until October 2, 2021.

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    August 11, 2021

    Senior investigator V. O. Vlasov is prosecuting Aleksandr Litvinyuk as a defendant under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

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    February 8, 2022

    Senior investigator of the Investigation Department of the FSB of Russia in the Republic of Crimea Chumakin A.E. makes a decision to bring Alexander Dubovenko as a defendant under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

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    April 29, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The judge rejects a number of motions filed by the defendant Alexander Litvinyuk, in which he asks, among other things, to visit a doctor and carry out the necessary medical research.

    In addition, the judge once again refuses to return the case to the prosecutor and to attach 27 documents to the case file as evidence of the defendant's innocence. It is noteworthy that these documents strangely disappeared from the case file at the investigation stage.

    Next, the judge proceeds to the study of the case materials - volumes 1 and 2. The judge openly prevents the lawyer from providing legal assistance to Litvinyuk's client.

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    June 15, 2022 House arrest

    During the hearing, the judge makes a decision to extend the measure of restraint in the form of house arrest for three months: to Oleksandr Litvinyuk until August 24, 2022 and to Oleksandr Dubovenko until August 29, 2022.

    It is noteworthy that at the beginning of August it will be one year since the believers were placed under house arrest, whereas according to Article 109 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation, the district court does not have the right to extend the arrest for a period of more than 12 months.

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    June 16, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The study of the case materials continues. The 5th volume and the expert opinion contained therein are read out.

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    July 5, 2022 House arrest

    The Supreme Court of the Republic of Crimea is holding an appeal hearing on the measure of restraint.

    The court leaves the defendants under house arrest, but corrects the mistake of the lower court, the Armenian City Court of the Republic of Crimea, which actually forbade the defendants to communicate with their defenders due to the imposed ban on leaving their place of residence around the clock and using any means of communication.

    The Court of Appeal also corrects the error in calculating the period of detention of defendants under house arrest and reduces it until September 11, 2022.

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    July 15, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Interrogation of operational officers of the FSB Border Directorate Sukhoteplov and Osmanov is underway, about which the defendants were not informed in advance. Answering the question: "What happened to the religious group of Jehovah's Witnesses in Armyansk after the liquidation of the LRO of Jehovah's Witnesses in Armyansk?" - FSB officer Osmanov answers: "In order not to give the wrong answer, I will refrain from answering." Judge Tatyana Fedeneva does not react in any way to the refusal of these witnesses by the prosecution to testify and sometimes even answers for them herself. Many questions on the merits of the case are arbitrarily removed by the judge.

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    July 18 and 19, 2022, Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The decision to refuse to satisfy the petition for recusal of the judge of July 14, 2022 is announced.

    Two witnesses, a man and a woman, are being questioned. They give a positive characterization of the defendants and tell how the study of the Bible has had a positive impact on their lives. The judge tries to interrupt the witnesses and expresses his negative attitude towards the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses.

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    July 21, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    A secret witness under the pseudonym "Jasmine" is invited for interrogation. The defendants file two motions - to declassify the witness in accordance with Article 278 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation and to ensure access to justice (so that the secret witness is alone, without means of communication, copies of interrogation protocols, etc.). The judge rejects both motions.

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    September 8, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The court changes the measure of restraint for the defendants from house arrest to a ban on certain actions. In the next three months, they will be able to leave the house from 7:00 to 19:00.

    The court rejects the petitions for the recusal of the judge and for the recognition of the discs with voice samples as illegal.

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    September 20, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Litvinyuk and Dubovenko file a motion to familiarize themselves with the materials of the criminal case, in particular, with the testimony of prosecution witnesses, but the judge once again refuses, arguing that such an opportunity will present itself after the verdict.

    The judge also rejects the previously filed petition to recognize the results of the religious examination as inadmissible evidence due to its obvious falsification. However, a copy of the refusal order shall not be provided to the accused.

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    October 3 and 5, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The last witness for the prosecution, a seriously ill woman who had previously been interested in the Bible, participates in the interrogation. She refutes the testimony recorded on her behalf by the investigator and reports that Dubovenko had never seen the defendant before and did not know him, and also denied the fact of joint participation in worship services. She speaks positively about Jehovah's Witnesses and admits that the Bible inspired and gave her spiritual strength. The prosecutor and the judge try in every possible way to force her to say what they need for the prosecution, but they do not succeed. At the request of the prosecutor, the testimony given during the preliminary investigation shall be read out.

    Next, a witness from the defense, Irina Dubovenko, Alexander's wife, is interrogated. The judge insists that Dubovenko and Litvinyuk give their testimony on October 5 and 6, 2022. The defendants and lawyers object and file a motion to postpone the date of testimony due to Litvinyuk's medical treatment. However, the judge decides that it is time to move on to the debate. The prosecutor asks for time to prepare for the debate, and the judge schedules the next hearing for 10/21/2022 from 13:30 to 16:00. The defendants intend to declare their desire to testify.

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    November 16, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    Oleksandr Dubovenko and Oleksandr Litvinyuk testify. Dubovenko petitions for a re-viewing of one of the discs with the video, the court refuses. The judge decides to move to the stage of debate at the next meeting.

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    November 22, 2022 Prosecutor requested punishment

    The prosecutor is requesting 6 years in prison for Aleksandr Litvinyuk and Aleksandr Dubovenko.

    Meanwhile, an ambulance arrives at Litvinyuk: during the debate he becomes ill.

    The debate will continue on 23 November.

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    November 25, 2022 Final statement

    "Jehovah's Witnesses are useful members of society and do not pose a threat to the countries in which they live," says Alexander Dubovenko in his last speech.

    "I am not being judged for evil deeds, but for my faith," Oleksandr Litvinyuk notes in his last word.

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    December 1, 2022 First Instance Sentence

    Judge of the Armenian City Court of the Republic of Crimea Tatyana Fedeneva finds the defendants guilty and sentences them to 6 years in a penal colony. Believers are taken into custody in the courtroom.

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    January 4, 2023 Detention center

    It becomes known that Aleksandr Dubovenko and Aleksandr Litvinyuk are being held in pre-trial detention center No. 1 in the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. They can receive letters of support.

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    March 16, 2023
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    May 23, 2023 Transfer of a prisoner

    It becomes known that Alexander Dubovenko and Alexander Litvinyuk were transferred from Simferopol to Krasnodar. They are in pre-trial detention center No. 1.

    Another Jehovah's Witness, Danil Suvorov, is being held in this detention facility.

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    June 1, 2023 Life in prison

    It becomes known that Aleksandr Litvinyuk has been transferred to Correctional Colony No. 2 in the Krasnodar Territory (Dvubratsky village). He can write letters.

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    June 15, 2023 Life in prison

    Aleksandr Dubovenko was taken to a penal colony in Kolomna (Moscow region) to serve his sentence.

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    June 17, 2023 Transfer of a prisoner Life in prison

    Aleksandr Litvinyuk is transferred to a penal colony in Nizhny Novgorod.

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    June 30, 2023 Deprivation of liberty Transfer of a prisoner Letters Life in prison

    It becomes known that Aleksandr Litvinyuk is in correctional colony No. 6 in the Ivanovo region. He can write letters.

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    July 31, 2023 Life in prison

    Oleksandr Litvinyuk is in good physical condition and mood. He works in the production of accessories. The believer regularly receives letters. On the part of the administration, the attitude towards him is benevolent.

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    March 12, 2024 Life in prison Letters

    Oleksandr Litvinyuk still works in the sewing workshop on accessories, has two incentives. The believer is respected by other prisoners. He is encouraged by the letters.