Case of Alushkin and Others in Penza

Case history

In July 2018, searches were carried out in Penza and criminal cases were initiated against 6 local Jehovah’s Witnesses. It turned out that since the fall of 2017, the believers had been under covert surveillance. Vladimir Alushkin spent six months in a pre-trial detention center. The UN Working Group officially recognized his arrest as arbitrary. In the summer of 2019, the case was submitted to the Leninsky District Court of Penza. During the hearings, it turned out that the protocols of the witnesses’ interrogations were partially falsified by the investigation, and one of the witnesses told the court that she had testified under pressure. In December 2019, Judge Roman Tanchenko sentenced Vladimir Alushkin to 6 years in prison, and Tatyana Alushkina, Galia Olkhova, Vladimir Kulyasov, Andrey Magliv and Denis Timoshin to 2 years suspended. In September 2020, the Penza Regional Court commuted the sentence of Vladimir Alushkin, replacing 6 years in prison with 4 years probation. For the rest, the court upheld the sentence - 2 years suspended. On December 9, 2021, the First Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction upheld the verdict.

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    28.04.2017, 17.08.2017

    Referring to the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation orders the termination of the activities of two local religious organizations (LROs) of Jehovah's Witnesses in Penza.

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    September 2017

    Operational-search measures begin in relation to Penza Jehovah's Witnesses, including Vladimir Alushkin, Galiya Olkhova, Andrey Magliv and some others. It was concluded that they were allegedly "active participants in the meeting." The investigation later recognizes one of them as the organizer, and five more participants in the activities of the banned organization.

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    February — April 2018

    The apartments of six families of believers are under covert surveillance, which lasts up to 4 months.

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    July 11, 2018

    Decision to initiate two criminal cases at once under the "extremist" article 282. The court allows a search in the homes of believers in Penza.

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    July 15, 2018

    Groups of law enforcement officers under the leadership of Major Alexander Bukov simultaneously break into the apartments of Penza civilians Vladimir Alushkin, Andrey Magliv, Denis Timoshin, G. Chuvilina and Vladimir Kulyasov. At the same time, a search was being conducted in the house of Sergey Bozgalov, 90 kilometers from Penza. Many have been interrogated, four are behind bars.

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    July 16, 2018

    Vladimir Alushkin has been charged.

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    July 17, 2018

    Vladimir Alushkin is placed in a pre-trial detention center for 2 months. Andrey Magliv, Vladimir Kulyasov and Denis Timoshin, who are under house arrest, become accused in the same criminal case and are placed under house arrest for 2 months.

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    July 18, 2018

    Interrogations of believers accused of extremism continue.

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    19.07.2018 — 20.08.2018

    Investigators are interrogating about 40 believers called in as witnesses.

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    July 20, 2018 Search
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    September 11, 2018

    The court leaves Vladimir Alushkin in a pre-trial detention center, and Andrey Magliv, Vladimir Kulyasov and Denis Timoshin under house arrest for another two months.

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    October 24, 2018

    The court allows a search in the apartment of Galiya Olkhova.

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    October 31, 2018

    Security forces invade the house of a civilian resident of Penza, Galiya Olkhova.

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    November 12, 2018

    The investigator asks the court to extend the measure of restraint for four believers for another two months. Vladimir Alushkin remains in a pre-trial detention center, while three other believers are under house arrest.

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    December 2018

    Interrogations of believers who are in the status of witnesses are resumed.

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    January 14, 2019

    The court unexpectedly releases 54-year-old Vladimir Alushkin from the pre-trial detention center and transfers him to house arrest. The court leaves the same measure of restraint for Vladimir Kulyasov, Andrey Magliv and Denis Timoshin. Now all four believers accused of extremism are imprisoned in their own homes for another two months.

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    January 21, 2019
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    February 1, 2019

    The Penza Regional Court leaves Andrey Magliv and Vladimir Kulyasov under house arrest.

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    February 28, 2019
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    March 11, 2019

    The court again extended the house arrest of the four defendants for two months.

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    April 3, 2019

    Vladimir Alushkin receives a notification about the end of the investigation and asks for the opportunity to familiarize himself with the case materials.

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    06.05.2019, 13.05.2019

    The term of house arrest for four believers is once again extended until 13.05.2019.

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    June 14, 2019

    The investigation sends the final indictment to the prosecutor's office for approval.

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    July 10, 2019

    Roman Tanchenko, a judge of the Leninsky District Court of Penza, accepts the criminal case for proceedings. At the same time, he extends the detention of Vladimir Alushkin, Vladimir Kulyasov, Andrey Magliv and Denis Timoshin under house arrest until 01.10.2019.

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    July 23, 2019

    The court rejects the petitions of the accused believers to exclude evidence from the case, including a number of unscrupulous examinations. Vladimir Kulyasov and Denis Timoshin ask the court to schedule a preliminary hearing.

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    August 20, 2019

    The court has completed the study of written materials. The hearing is scheduled to continue on August 28, 2019. The questioning of prosecution witnesses will begin.

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    August 28, 2019

    Defense counsel questioning prosecution witnesses.

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    September 5, 2019

    Defense counsel questioning prosecution witnesses.

    The next meeting is scheduled for September 11.

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    09 – 13.09.2019

    The main witness for the prosecution, a former Jehovah's Witnesses woman, is being questioned. The prosecutor's questions relate to creeds and prayer. The witness cannot confirm that extremism is present in the actions of the accused.

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    16 – 20.09.2019

    The prosecution is questioning witnesses. From their contradictory testimonies, it becomes obvious that the protocols with previous testimonies were partially falsified by the investigation.

    One of the witnesses informs the court that she gave preliminary testimony under pressure from the security forces. Another states that she did not hear a single call to extremism during the services.

    The court extends the house arrest of the four defendants for three months.

    The next meetings are scheduled for 8, 10 and 11 October.

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    8, 10.10.2019

    Three prosecution witnesses are being questioned at the trial. One of them states that extremism is not inherent in the defendants, and will be glad if the future turns out to be Jehovah's Witnesses.

    The hearing was postponed until November 7 due to the injury of one of the defendants.

    The next court hearings are scheduled for November 7 and 8, as well as November 12, 14 and 15.

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    October 14, 2019
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    November 7, 2019

    Defence counsel has filed several motions. The judge refuses to include in the case an examination of the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, carried out by the Expert Council under the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, referring to the fact that it dates back to 1999.

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    08-12.11.2019

    The court reviews audio and video materials, while watching, believers pay attention to how the recordings refute the arguments of the prosecution. It becomes obvious that the investigator falsified the protocols of the examination of these materials, used in court as evidence.

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    November 15, 2019

    The defense files a motion to exclude the results of psychological and linguistic examinations and asks for a second religious examination. The petitions were denied.

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    November 19, 2019

    The defense submits motions to exclude the protocols of the search and inspection of the seized items. During the examination of material evidence, the court cannot find Vladimir Alushkin's laptop. Alushkin reads and comments on the songs, the singing of which he is accused of. Among them is a song about the fact that life is a wonderful gift. The next hearing is scheduled for 22.11.2019.

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    November 22, 2019

    The study of material evidence - files from the computer of Vladimir Alushkin - continues. Two files were examined, which, according to the investigation, promote "renunciation of the world, media and television," as well as "the superiority of the teachings and lifestyle of Jehovah's Witnesses over others." In the course of the full disclosure of these documents, it becomes clear that there is no hint of something like that.

    The believers were touched by the fact that Judge Roman Tanchenko, who is usually against the postponement of the hearings, himself noticed that one of the defendants was suffering from a migraine attack, became worried, offered to call an ambulance and postponed the hearing until November 26.

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    December 2, 2019
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    December 3, 2019

    The prosecutor asks to postpone the debate scheduled for this day, because he wants to view in court a hidden video of the divine service in which the defendants participated. During the screening, the defendants and defense lawyers draw the court's attention to important contradictions between the recording itself and how it was recorded by the investigation. For example, the investigator added to the protocol the phrases "LRO of Jehovah's Witnesses Arbekovo, Penza", "Administrative Center" and others, although such words were not heard at the service. The prosecutor brushed it off, paying attention only to who exactly participated in the service. The hearings will continue on 05.12.2019.

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    December 5, 2019

    Speaking in the debate, the prosecutor asks Vladimir Alushkin for 7 years of real prison! Andrey Magliv, Vladimir Kulyasov, Denis Timoshin were sentenced to 4 years in prison, and Tatyana Alushkina and Galiya Olkhova were sentenced to 3 years each. Everyone except Vladimir Alushkin is asked by the prosecutor to replace the prison with forced labor.

    The continuation of the debate is scheduled for 10.12.2019. There will be a defense.

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    December 10, 2019

    The defense in the debate demands that the court fully acquit all six in connection with their non-involvement in any extremist activity. Judge Roman Tanchenko announces that on December 12, the defendants will make their last speech, after which the verdict will be announced.

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    December 11, 2019
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    December 12, 2019

    All six Jehovah's Witnesses address the court with their last word. The court retires to the deliberation room. The verdict will be announced on December 13 at 10:30 a.m. in the Leninsky District Court of Penza at 36 Volodarsky Street.

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    December 13, 2019

    Judge Roman Tanchenko announces the verdict. All six believers were found guilty. Vladimir Alushkin will go to a colony for 6 years, his wife, Tatyana, was sentenced to 2 years of suspended imprisonment. Galia Olkhova, Denis Timoshin, Andrey Magliv, Vladimir Kulyasov were also sentenced to 2 years of suspended imprisonment. Lawyers intend to appeal the verdict.

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    December 27, 2019

    At the entrance of a residential building, two young women were detained under the pretext of searching for fraudsters. At the police station, the real reason for their detention is found out - religious beliefs. Among other things, the women are interrogated about their acquaintance with Vladimir Alushkin, who was previously convicted of his faith.

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    January 24, 2020
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    February 19, 2020

    Vladimir Alushkin was transferred from pre-trial detention center No. 1 in the Penza region to pre-trial detention center No. 2 in Ruzaevka, Republic of Mordovia. This happened before the appeal hearings and the entry into force of the verdict. Vladimir's new place of residence is located about 100 km from the previous one, which may make it difficult for his lawyer and relatives to access him, and also limits Vladimir's ability to get acquainted with the materials of the criminal case. The reasons for the transfer are being clarified.

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    March 25, 2020 Court of Appeal

    The Penza Regional Court decides: "The verdict of the Leninsky District Court of the city of Penza of December 13, 2019 [...] cancel, transfer the criminal case for a new trial to the same court by a different composition of the court, change the measure of restraint to Alushkin - detention - to recognizance not to leave and proper behavior, to release him from custody. The measure of restraint for Magliv, Kulyasov, Timoshin, Alushkina and Olkhova should remain the same - a written undertaking not to leave and proper behavior. Vladimir Alushkin, sentenced to 6 years in prison, is currently imprisoned in pre-trial detention center No. 2 in the Mordovian village of Ruzaevka. Until the appellate ruling reaches the place of detention, the believer will remain in custody.

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    March 30, 2020

    Five days after the verdict was overturned, Vladimir Alushkin was released from the pre-trial detention center.

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    March 31, 2020
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    May 14, 2020 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The court grants the motion of the defense and prosecution to suspend the case against Vladimir Alushkin, as well as other believers, for an indefinite period. The reason for this is the deteriorating epidemiological situation in the country. All believers remain under recognizance not to leave.

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    July 8, 2020
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    July 9, 2020

    The First Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction in Saratov is considering a complaint from the prosecutor's office to overturn a conviction against a believer. Judges Elena Batulina (rapporteur), Andrey Savelyev and Valentina Komissarova return the case of Alushkin and 5 of his fellow believers for a new appeal hearing to the Penza Regional Court. The measure of restraint chosen by the believer in the form of a recognizance not to leave remains unchanged.

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    September 9, 2020 Court of Appeal

    The Penza Regional Court begins the appeal hearing. The case is heard by a panel of 3 judges: Oksana Akimova, Olga Potapova, Albina Mikhailenko. The verdict introduced by the Leninsky District Court on December 13, 2019 is being appealed. The case was returned to the appellate stage by the Court of Cassation. During the hearing, prosecutor D. R. Almakaev filed a motion to view video recordings from the case materials. In this regard, the judicial board postpones the hearing to September 16, 2020.

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    September 16, 2020 Court of Appeal

    The new composition of the judicial board of the Penza Regional Court mitigates the conviction in the case of Vladimir and Tatyana Alushkin, Vladimir Kulyasov, Andrey Magliv, Galiya Olkhova and Denis Timoshin. Vladimir Alushkin was sentenced to 4 years of suspended sentence, the rest of the court gives 2 years of probation.

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    December 9, 2021

    The First Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction, located in Saratov, leaves the decision of the Court of Appeal against 6 believers unchanged.