Case of Barmakina in Vladivostok

Case history

In the early morning of July 2018, a group of masked armed security forces invaded the apartment of 90-year-old grandmother Yelena Barmakina, after which Dmitriy wife Yelena was imprisoned in a pre-trial detention center for 447 days. Later, Yelena herself was accused of extremism because of her religion and the family’s bank accounts were blocked. The believer’s case was considered by the Pervorechensky District Court of Vladivostok. In September 2020, the court returned the case to the prosecutor. In August 2021, investigator Tarasenko opened a criminal case against a peaceful believer Yuriy Redozubov and merged Barmakina’s case into one proceeding with the cases against Redozubov, Lonchakov, Katanaeva, Astvatsaturova, Tregub, Tsorn and the Verigin spouses. In June 2022, the case went to court.

  • #
    15 October 2017 - 26 June 2018

    In Vladivostok, investigative measures are being taken against believers. According to the investigation, on these dates, believers meet to discuss the Bible, sing songs, pray, talk about their faith to the residents of Vladivostok, and also communicate with Jehovah's Witnesses from other cities of Primorsky Krai.

  • #
    August 6, 2019

    The Investigative Department for the Pervorechensky District of the city of Vladivostok is initiating a criminal case against Elena Barmakina.

  • #
    September 13, 2019

    Elena Barmakina was charged with committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. According to the investigation, "she took a direct part in religious speeches, divine services, sermons, learning variants of sermons for use in preaching ... carried out the preaching work." A preventive measure is chosen against her in the form of a recognizance not to leave and proper behavior.

  • #
    April 9, 2020

    Investigator Tarasenko calls a local resident, Elena Tsorn, and, intimidating her, calls her "so far as a witness" in the case of Elena Barmakina. The investigator also declares his desire to initiate proceedings against everyone who is a witness in the cases of Dmitry and Elena Barmakin. A woman uses Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation when testifying.

  • #
    April 16, 2020

    Two men in civilian clothes appear at Elena Zorn's home without a summons and forcibly take her away for interrogation. Later, Tarasenko comes to the place of work of Elena Tsorn to conduct operational-search activities. The building is closed due to the epidemic, but the investigator demands to open it, threatening otherwise to knock down the doors and initiate a criminal case against Yelena.

  • #
    April 24, 2020

    The accused Elena Barmakina and her lawyer are presented with the materials of the criminal case for review. The material evidence is CD-ROMs with recordings of the ORM "Observation", provided by a recruited FSB agent.

  • #
    May 6, 2020

    The preliminary investigation of the criminal case against Elena Barmakina, which lasted 9 months, is coming to an end. The accusation against the believer cites the following ridiculous argument: "The fact that the interrogated witnesses exercised the right provided for in Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, that is, refused to testify, confirms the influence of D.V. Barmakin, who is the accused and the spouse of E.M. Barmakina, instructed witnesses in case of summons to law enforcement agencies."

  • #
    May 7, 2020

    Acting Prosecutor of the Pervorechensky District of Vladivostok, Counselor of Justice V. M. Varavenko signs the indictment against Elena Barmakina. The case goes to court.

  • #
    June 8, 2020

    Lieutenant of Justice G. Tarasenko, senior investigator of the Investigative Directorate for the Pervorechensky District of Vladivostok of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Primorsky Territory, initiates five new criminal cases against 61-year-old Nina Astvatsaturova, 29-year-old Roman Verigin, 34-year-old Violetta Verigina, 53-year-old Ludwiga Katanaeva and 47-year-old Elena Tsorn.

  • #
    June 17, 2020 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The Pervorechensky District Court of Vladivostok is hosting the first hearing in the criminal case of Elena Barmakina.

    Judge Olga Barabash (Levkina) rejects the request for the admission of views No. 10/2020 of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN Human Rights Council.

    A motion to terminate the criminal case or return it to the prosecutor shall also be rejected. The prosecutor reads out the indictment. The defense expresses its attitude to the accusation. The defendant pleaded not guilty.

    5 witnesses are being interrogated, including FSB operative Yuri Gaifullin. He gives vague testimony, expresses his personal opinion on many issues, for example, calling the New Testament doctrine of Armageddon extremist.

    During the interrogation of the operative, Judge Olga Barabash (Levkina) states that Elena Barmakina is allegedly being tried "not for ideology." In response to this remark, the defense objects to the actions of the judge and quotes from the indictment, confirming that she is being tried for her religion, and therefore for ideology. The state prosecution blames Yelena for praying, reading the Bible, and watching sermons. To this, the judge expresses doubt that the above is a way of expressing faith.

  • #
    July 2, 2020

    Six people aged 29 to 59 are surprised to find their names on the list of "extremists" of Rosfinmonitoring. These are Roman and Violetta Verigin, Ludwig and Eva Katanaev, Elena Zorn, Nina Astvatsaturova. None of them knows that a criminal case has been opened against them. All of them are witnesses in the criminal case against Elena Barmakina.

  • #
    July 9, 2020

    A wave of searches is taking place in Vladivostok. Law enforcement officers are armed with machine guns, their faces are hidden by masks. The victims are 6 families of believers. A few days earlier, six of those who were being searched were surprised to find their names on the list of "extremists" of Rosfinmonitoring (Roman and Violetta Verigin, Ludwig and Eva Katanaev, Elena Tsorn, Nina Astvatsaturova). Until the start of the searches, they were not notified that a criminal case had been opened against them (which is a violation of the law).

    At 7 a.m., security forces with machine guns invaded the house of Yuriy Redozubov. They report that they are looking for items that may be related to the case against Dmitry Barmakin. A 4-hour search is being conducted. Electronic devices, a magnet from a refrigerator, a children's coloring book and personal notes are seized from the believer.

    After the search, Yuriy was taken for interrogation 30 kilometers from his home to Vladivostok. The investigator conducts a confrontation with the embedded agent Ekaterina Petrova, who testifies against Redozubov. At 7 a.m., security forces with machine guns invaded the house of Yuriy Redozubov. They report that they are looking for items that may be related to the case against Dmitry Barmakin. A 4-hour search is being conducted. Electronic devices, a magnet from a refrigerator, a children's coloring book and personal notes are seized from the believer.

    After the search, Yuriy was taken for interrogation 30 kilometers from his home to Vladivostok. The investigator conducts a confrontation with the embedded agent Ekaterina Petrova, who testifies against Redozubov.

    Nina Astvatsaturova becomes ill with her heart during interrogation and is sent to the hospital. After assistance, the interrogation is repeated.

    Medical care is also needed for a 42-year-old man who lives with his mother. He was hospitalized.

    Astvatsaturova, Verigin, Katanaeva and Tsorn are elected a measure of restraint in the form of a written undertaking not to leave.

  • #
    July 13, 2020

    Lieutenant of Justice S. V. Kimizhuk, senior investigator of the Investigative Directorate for the Pervorechensky District of Vladivostok of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Primorsky Territory, is prosecuting Nina Astvatsaturova as a defendant in committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. According to the ruling, she is accused of "reading and discussing texts from the Bible ... participation in the performance of religious chants and prayers, watching video sermons."

  • #
    September 3, 2020

    The infiltrated agent Ekaterina Petrova, who attended services in Vladivostok and Moscow several times in 2016-2017, is being interrogated. Petrova bases her testimony on materials about Jehovah's Witnesses from the Internet and cannot cite any specific facts proving the illegal activities of believers.

  • #
    September 4, 2020

    In Vladivostok, Igor Lonchakov, a 42-year-old believer, is charged under Article 282.2 (1) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization of the activities of a religious association or other organization in respect of which a court has made an enforceable decision to liquidate or ban activities in connection with extremist activities).

  • #
    September 8, 2020

    29-year-old Ekaterina Treguba is charged under Article 282.2 (2) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (participation in the activities of a religious association or other organization in respect of which the court made a final decision to liquidate or ban activities in connection with extremist activities).

  • #
    September 28, 2020

    In the Pervorechensky District Court of Vladivostok, the debate of the parties begins. State prosecutor K. Sologub requests 3 years of probation with a probationary period of 3 years for a peaceful believer. Elena Barmakina addresses the defendant's last word. The verdict is scheduled for September 29.

  • #
    September 29, 2020

    Judge Olga Barabash, instead of passing a verdict, unexpectedly reads out a decision to return the criminal case to the prosecutor - in connection with violations in the accusation that cannot be eliminated during the trial. The ruling notes that "it is not possible to establish from the text of the indictment the extremist orientation of the defendant's actions in her cult activities: in reading and discussing texts from the Bible ... participating in the performance of religious chants and prayers, and watching video sermons, despite the fact that freedom of religion is a constitutional right. [...] The event of the crime in the plot of the prosecution is not described specifically, in the opinion of the court, this circumstance indicates non-compliance with the requirements of paragraph 3 of part 1 of article 220 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation, since it is not possible to establish what specific actions prohibited by the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, where, when, in what way the defendant committed, which is essential for resolving the criminal case on the merits of the charge.

    The decision to return the case to the prosecutor's office may be appealed.

  • #
    November 24, 2020

    The Primorsky Regional Court is considering the appeal of the prosecutor's office against the decision of the Pervorechensky District Court of Vladivostok to return the criminal case of Elena Barmakina to the prosecutor's office due to violations in the case materials. The court decides to leave the decision of the lower court unchanged, the appeal of the prosecutor's office - without satisfaction.

  • #
    June 9, 2021

    Lieutenant of Justice G. Y. Tarasenko, senior investigator of the Investigative Directorate for the Pervorechensky District of Vladivostok of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Primorsky Territory, within the framework of criminal case No. 11902050005000051, involves Yuri Redozubov as a suspect in committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (participation in the activities of an extremist organization) and interrogates him. Tarasenko is trying to find out whether Yuri believes in God, what religion he professes, whether he attends church, whether he knows Dmitry and Elena Barmakin, and whether he participated in the services of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    The believer refuses to testify, using Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

  • #
    August 11, 2021

    Investigator Tarasenko prosecutes Redozubov as a defendant in criminal case No. 12002050005000016 and accuses him of committing a crime under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. In the ruling, the investigator refers to the decision of the Supreme Court, interpreting it as a ban on the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. Tarasenko concludes that peaceful worship is an activity that threatens the security of the state. The document notes that believers "acquaint people with the Holy Scriptures, biblical teachings, principles and norms, carry out service to God based on the Holy Scriptures (Bible), disseminate information in society related to biblical truths and prophecies, as well as explaining the Bible and touching on scientific, social, historical and other topics."

  • #
    September 28, 2022 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The preliminary hearing is held behind closed doors. Assistant Prosecutor Anna Kolokoltseva petitions for consideration of the case in the absence of the Verigin spouses. Lawyers object. Judge Galina Vasilkevich adjourned the hearing for the prosecutor's office to present evidence of the departure of the accused.

  • #
    February 10, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    A preliminary hearing is being held behind closed doors. The defense files motions to exclude inadmissible evidence, to attach the decision of the ECHR dated 07.06.2022 ("LRO Taganrog and others v. the Russian Federation"). The resolution of the motions was postponed until the next hearing.

    The case against the Verigins is suspended and separated into separate proceedings.

  • #
    March 3, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The prosecution objects to the motions filed by the defense.

  • #
    March 6, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The court rejects the motions to declare the evidence inadmissible and grants the request to attach the decision of the ECHR dated 07.06.2022.

  • #
    May 5, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The prosecutor reads out the indictment.

  • #
    May 26, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The defendants express their attitude to the charges. They do not admit their guilt.

  • #
    June 16, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The prosecution witness, detective Y. Gaifullin, is being interrogated. He interprets the divine services of Jehovah's Witnesses, secretly recorded during operational-search activities, as a continuation of the activities of a liquidated legal entity. At the same time, the witness cannot name specific facts that would indicate the guilt of the defendants. Nor did he hear believers speak out against family values or state authority during worship services.

  • #
    October 6, 2023 – January 26, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The court examines the written materials of the case, including transcripts and audio recordings of worship services. One of them is about how to maintain peaceful relations with people.