The Case of Vlasov in Prokopevsk

Case History

In July 2020, a criminal case was initiated against Andrey Vlasov, a disabled Jehovah’s Witness from Prokopyevsk. The FSB accused him of organizing the activity of an extremist organization. Searches were carried out in Vlasov’s home, as well as at his workplace. Despite the fact that he cannot manage without assistance, he was placed in a temporary detention facility, and three days later he was placed under house arrest. In June 2021, the Vlasov case went to court. Although the believer’s health was deteriorating, the court would not let him visit the doctor and repeatedly extended the house arrest. The prosecutor asked for a sentence of 8.5 years in prison for him. In May 2022, the court sentenced Vlasov to 7 years in a penal colony. He was taken into custody in the courtroom and sent to a detention center. There he fell ill, so he was sent to the medical correctional institution No. 16 of Novokuznetsk. In October 2022, the believer was placed in correctional institution No. 3 in Novosibirsk to serve his sentence. Despite the severe condition of Andrey Vlasov, neither the court of appeal nor the court of cassation mitigated this unprecedented verdict.

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    July 2, 2020

    Investigator of the Department of the FSB of Russia in the Kemerovo region - Kuzbass, senior lieutenant of justice Ivan Sablin makes a decision to initiate a criminal case against 51-year-old Andrei Vlasov, who has a disability. For his faith, he is suspected of committing a crime under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organizing the activities of an extremist organization).

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    July 6, 2020

    The judge of the Central District Court of Kemerovo, Irina Ivanova, at the request of investigator Sablin, issues permission to conduct searches in Prokopyevsk, including in Vlasov's home.

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    July 12, 2020

    FSB officers conduct an ORM in the house of the Vlasov spouses, they confiscate electronics and Bibles. A search is also carried out at the suspect's workplace. Andrey is sent to a temporary detention facility (IVS), and his wife Natalya is interrogated in the investigator's office.

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    July 13, 2020 Search
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    July 14, 2020

    Judge of the Central District Court of the city of Kemerovo Natalia Naumova chooses Vlasov as a measure of restraint in the form of house arrest at least until 02.09.2020. He cannot leave the premises except for a 2-hour walk, use the Internet, send and receive postal and telegraph messages by any means of communication, as well as communicate with participants in a criminal case.

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    July 17, 2020

    Vlasov is filing an appeal with the Central District Court of Kemerovo, asking to cancel the court decision of 14.07.2020 and release him from custody, because he believes that his constitutional right to believe in God is not a continuation of the activities of an organization banned by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.

    Vlasov petitions for personal participation in the consideration of the case by the court of appeal.

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    October 29, 2020

    Deputy Head of the Department of the Federal Security Service of Russia for the Kemerovo Region-Kuzbass M. I. Efimov petitions for the extension of Andrey Vlasov's house arrest until January 2, 2021.

    According to Efimov, only house arrest "will ensure the protection of the rights and legitimate interests of the parties to the criminal process, as well as the possibility of further proceedings."

    The believer's lawyer draws attention to the fact that Vlasov has a permanent place of residence, is being prosecuted for the first time, is a disabled person of group II and has no intention of hiding from the preliminary investigation and court.

    Despite this, the Central District Court of the city of Kemerovo extends Andrey Vlasov's house arrest.

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    June 9, 2021

    Andrey Vlasov's case is submitted to the Central District Court of the city of Prokopyevsk for consideration by Judge Pavel Kotykhov.

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    July 1, 2021

    The hearing on the merits of the case begins. The indictment is read out. The believer does not admit guilt, but the court does not allow him to fully explain his position.

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    July 22, 2021

    The protocols of interrogations of prosecution witnesses are being examined. According to the testimony of one of them, if there is a danger of detention, Jehovah's Witnesses are allegedly obliged to hide from law enforcement officers by any means.

    The believer declares that he has no intention of hiding from justice and petitions for a change in the measure of restraint to a recognizance not to leave due to deteriorating health. At his request, the court interrogates the employee of the penitentiary inspectorate who supervises him. He gives Vlasov a positive characterization and confirms that he has never violated the regime of detention under house arrest for the whole year. Nevertheless, the measure of restraint remains unchanged.

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    August 16, 2021

    A prosecution witness is being questioned. Due to poor health and memory problems, he cannot unequivocally answer many of the judge's questions.

    Two other witnesses did not appear at the hearing. Counsel objects to the reading of the transcripts of their interrogations. The judge agrees, but instructs them to be forcibly brought to the next hearing.

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    August 17, 2021

    Due to the new rules of detention under house arrest, a believer faces a number of difficulties: he cannot pick up registered letters from the court, get a referral to a doctor, etc. Andrey Vlasov asks the court to further explain to him how to observe these measures in specific situations of his real life.

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    September 23, 2021

    An FSB officer of Prokopyevsk, Karpov, is being interrogated. In his personal opinion, Jehovah's Witnesses are forbidden to gather together, but they are not forbidden to pray.

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    October 20, 2021

    The court interrogates the secret witness "Reutov". He states that he has not heard from the defendant calls for disrespect for the authorities or the severance of family relations.

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    October 27, 2021

    Investigator Ivan Sablin is being interrogated. He is summoned because there are disagreements in the testimony of prosecution witnesses given by them during interrogations.

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    November 5, 2021

    Investigator for particularly important cases of the investigation department for the city of Prokopyevsk of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kemerovo Region - Kuzbass, Captain of Justice T. V. Zorina initiates a criminal case under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (participation in the activities of a banned organization) against unidentified persons.

    The resolution states: "Unidentified persons, acting deliberately, by a group of persons, in agreement with A.V. Vlasov, realizing criminal intent, being in an unidentified place on the territory of the city of Prokopyevsk," participated in the activities of a banned legal entity. This is how the investigation characterizes the peaceful worship of Jehovah's Witnesses.

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    November 10, 2021

    At 6 o'clock in the morning, investigator Zorina issues a decision to search the 63-year-old resident of Prokopyevsk, Pavel Brilkov. At about 8:00 a.m., the senior investigator of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee Kuzmina comes to his home to carry out investigative actions.

    Also, a search is taking place at 46-year-old Yuri Chernykh, the father of a minor child. This is the second search in the Chernoy family. Previously, Brilkov and Chernykh were witnesses in the case of Andrei Vlasov. Now the investigation imputes these men to participate in the activities of a banned organization.

    Investigator Zorin interrogates Yuri Chernykh. He uses Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which gives him the right not to testify against himself and his loved ones. The investigator hands over to the believer the decision to initiate criminal case No. 12102320012000120 against him. Yuriy is obliged to appear. The investigator is also questioning Pavel Brilkov and his wife. Believers also use Article 51 of the Constitution.

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    November 30, 2021

    At the request of the lawyer, the court attaches to the case file an extract from Vlasov's outpatient card. The believer notes in his testimony that the stress associated with house arrest has a negative impact on his health. Nevertheless, the court once again extends the house arrest.

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

    Andrey Vlasov asks the court to allow him to visit a doctor because he needs treatment. Judge Pavel Kotykhov dismisses the petition.

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    March 1, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The judge attaches medical certificates indicating serious illnesses of the defendant, but extends house arrest for another 3 months without changing the restrictions.

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    March 9, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The lawyer re-submits a petition for Andrey Vlasov to visit a doctor. The judge rejects it, stating that the chosen measure of restraint involves a ban on leaving the living quarters, and an ambulance call is provided for the provision of medical care.

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    March 30, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    A believer reads an excerpt from the book by religious scholar Sergei Ivanenko "About People Who Never Part with the Bible." The judge interrupts the defendant, referring to the fact that "the book itself, not its contents" is recognized as material evidence, and that it can only be put on display. In his opinion, the court does not need to listen to excerpts from this book.

    Andrei Vlasov declares: "You are actually depriving me of the opportunity to defend myself." The lawyer supports the position of the defendant, stressing that he has the right to read this book in full.

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    April 6, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The defense challenges the judge due to the fact that he restricts the defendant's right to defend himself, which may indicate his interest in the outcome of the process. The judge refuses.

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    May 11, 2022 Prosecutor requested punishment

    19 people come to support Andrey Vlasov. Four are allowed into the courtroom, the rest are waiting outside the courthouse.

    The prosecutor requests a sentence of 8 years and 6 months of imprisonment in a general regime colony.

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    May 17, 2022 Prosecutor requested punishment

    More than 30 people come to support the believer, 4 are allowed into the meeting room.

    In the debate, the defense takes the floor.

    Andrey Vlasov is scheduled to deliver his last word and announce the verdict.

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    May 23, 2022 First Instance Sentence

    Judge Pavel Kotykhov finds Andrey Vlasov guilty and sentences him to 7 years in a penal colony, the believer is sent to a pre-trial detention center directly from the courtroom.

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    June 1, 2022

    The place of detention of Andrey Vlasov becomes known: Novokuznetsk, pre-trial detention center No. 2 in the Kemerovo region. He can write letters.

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    July 26, 2022
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    August 27, 2022 Life in prison

    Andrey Vlasov is transferred to medical correctional institution No. 16, located in the village of Abagur-Lesnoy (Novokuznetsk) to serve his sentence. The believer is placed there because he suffered bilateral pneumonia in a pre-trial detention center, and later he was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

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    October 4, 2022 Complaints

    Natalya Vlasova, the wife of a group II disabled person sentenced to 7 years in prison for his faith, appealed to the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation.

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    October 12, 2022 Transfer of a prisoner

    Andrey Vlasov is being moved from a medical correctional facility in Novokuznetsk. The destination is Novosibirsk.

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    October 31, 2022 Transfer of a prisoner Life in prison

    It becomes known that Andrei Vlasov is in correctional colony No. 3 of Novosibirsk, where he was taken to serve his sentence.

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    November 14, 2022
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    December 12, 2022 Life in prison

    The lawyer visits Andrey Vlasov in Penal colony No. 3 in Novosibirsk. The believer tries to maintain a positive attitude, despite fears and worries. According to the lawyer, after visiting his wife, Vlasov was in a good mood. He also continues to receive letters of support from fellow believers who strengthen and encourage him.

    Speaking about Vlasov's health, the lawyer notes a positive trend. The doctor's advice helped him cope with his progressive disease: he now moves with the help of two canes and sleeps on an orthopedic mattress, and since he is prescribed bed rest, he can lie down during the day if he feels tired. He is still very uncomfortable walking. Andrey feels the negative effects of treatment for tuberculosis. He was not allowed to lie down in the LIU, so he had to sit a lot. Due to his lack of movement, he developed wounds that are still healing.

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    February 7, 2023
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    March 28, 2023 Life in prison

    There are now 20 people in Vlasov's detachment, the food is normal. The believer receives letters of support both from Russia and from abroad, although previously there were difficulties with the delivery of letters from his native Prokopyevsk. Andrey gratefully speaks of the help of his friends.

    Vlasov's disease progresses, he experiences pain in the joints. He was diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Andrey was transferred to a new room, to the first floor, but it is difficult for him to climb the stairs there.

    Thanks to the good reputation of Sergey Britvin and Vadim Levchuk , who served their sentences in this colony, the employees of the institution and the convicts treat Andrey with respect.

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    April 27, 2023 Life in prison

    The believer's health continues to deteriorate. There is atrophy of the thigh muscles, he cannot sit for a long time. The shoulder joints also lose mobility. The radiologist said that in 30 years of work, he had not seen such bones as Vlasov's.

    Despite the severity of the situation, the believer does not lose heart and is grateful for the support and help of friends.

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    July 18, 2023 Life in prison Health risk Believers with a disability

    Andrey Vlasov is in the same squad as Sergey Britvin and Vadim Levchuk. Some of the prisoners remember them, and the believer did not have to explain for a long time who he was and what he was serving his sentence for.

    Physically, Andrey feels that "in general, everything is fine, as long as it's summer and warm." Cold weather usually has a negative impact on his health. Andrey tries to walk every day to get some air in a small courtyard measuring 13 by 6 meters.

    To fight the disease and difficult conditions Vlasov helps communication with his wife Natalia - recently they had a long date. Letters also add positive emotions to him. However, at the moment, correspondence is issued with a long delay. As the believer understood, the staff did not like the fact that the letters discussed topics related to God and found references to the Bible.

    Andrey regularly reads the Bible and puts his thoughts from it into practice: he willingly shares with prisoners what his friends give him in parcels. Cellmates help Vlasov in everyday matters due to his health limitations. Andrey's relationship with the administration of the colony is also respectful.

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    January 20, 2024 Life in prison Believers with a disability Medical treatment within the Federal Penitentiary Service

    Every day in the colony is not easy for a believer: he experiences headaches, stiffness and pain in the joints, especially when it gets cold in the barracks. This makes it difficult for Vlasov to go to the canteen, and he is grateful for the help of other prisoners who help him buy groceries at a local store.

    The administration allows Vlasov to visit doctors - for a month and a half he visited a traumatologist, a neurologist, a rheumatologist and a radiologist. Thanks to his wife and friends, from whom he regularly receives letters of support, the believer does not lose heart.