The case of Andreev and others in Yaroslavsky

Case History

In October 2022, security forces conducted searches at 12 addresses of believers in the village of Yaroslavsky in Primorye. Earlier, a case was initiated against Anatoly Lee and unidentified persons under the article on organizing the activities of an extremist organization. As part of this case, Anatoly Lee himself and two other believers, Boris Andreev and Natalya Sharapova, ended up in a pre-trial detention center. The case went to court in September 2023.

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    July 28, 2022 Case initiated

    A criminal case has been initiated against believers from the village of Yaroslavsky, Primorsky Territory.

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    October 6, 2022
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    October 7, 2022 Detention center

    Boris Andreev is taken to SIZO-2, and Natalia Sharapova is taken to SIZO-3 in Ussuriysk. It is known that they will spend at least 22 days under arrest.

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    October 13, 2022 Detention center

    Anatoliy Lee is also placed in SIZO-2 in Ussuriysk until October 28, 2022.

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    November 7, 2022

    The lawyer visits Natalya, Boris and Anatoliy in the pre-trial detention center. All three are in good physical and emotional condition.

    Nataliya is being held in a double cell with another woman. There are 10 people in the cells of Boris and Anatoly. Believers say that the attitude on the part of cellmates and employees of the detention center is respectful - 71-year-old Boris is addressed by his first name and patronymic.

    According to the lawyer, after the arrest of peaceful believers in the village of Yaroslavsky, which is home to a little more than 8 thousand inhabitants, false information began to spread about the danger that allegedly emanated from Natalia Sharapova, Boris Andreev and Anatoly Lee, because of which the reputation of these peaceful and law-abiding citizens was seriously damaged.

    During the month of her stay in prison, Natalia has already received 200 letters of support, Boris and Anatoliy - about 100, for which the believers are very grateful. Letters help them not to lose heart.

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    December 26, 2022 Search

    A search is underway at the address of the registration of the accused Anatoly Lee. Lee himself has been in jail for 2.5 months, and this apartment is rented by a third-party tenant. During the search, the tenant is offered to voluntarily hand over extremist literature banned in the Russian Federation, while nothing was seized. The search does not exceed half an hour.

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    March 28, 2023 Detention center

    Boris, Anatoliy and Natalia are still doing well. They do not complain about the quality of food and conditions in the cell. They maintain a positive attitude. They are grateful to their fellow believers for the fact that they continue to write them letters in large quantities, which is surprising to the staff of the pre-trial detention center and prisoners. Believers are allowed to visit relatives. Nataliya has the opportunity to talk to her family on the phone.

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    July 10, 2023

    Investigator of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Primorsky Territory, Captain of Justice Elena Piskun, grants the petition of Boris Andreev's wife to return the phones and computers seized from them during the search.

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    July 14, 2023 Restriction of the right to medical care Health risk

    Boris Andreev, 71, suspects a serious, life-threatening illness, but investigator E.V. Piskun refuses to soften his preventive measure or transfer him to another pre-trial detention center, where he could undergo urgent examination and treatment. Alexandra Andreyeva, Boris's wife, filed a corresponding petition after receiving the results of her husband's tests, but the investigator refused to satisfy the request.

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    August 15, 2023 Medical treatment within the Federal Penitentiary Service Elderly

    It becomes known that Boris Andreev was transferred from the Ussuriysk pre-trial detention center to Vladivostok. He is undergoing a medical examination, the duration of which is still unknown. He can write letters.

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    September 22, 2023 Case went to court

    The case goes to court and is referred to judge Olesya Ulyanova.

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    October 16, 2023 Transfer of a prisoner Restriction of the right to medical care Medical treatment within the Federal Penitentiary Service

    Boris Andreev is returned to SIZO-2 in Ussuriysk. Earlier, a believer with suspected cancer was transferred to SIZO-1 in Vladivostok for a medical examination, which, however, was never carried out.

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    November 23, 2023 Detention center

    It becomes known that Boris Andreev was transferred to another pre-trial detention center. Now he is in a pre-trial detention center in Vladivostok.

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    December 1, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The prosecutor challenges Judge Olesya Ulyanova. The court satisfies the challenge.

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    December 14, 2023 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    A new judge enters the case - Pogorelaya Tatyana Igorevna.

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    January 31, 2024 Transfer of a prisoner Detention center

    Boris Andreev is again transferred to SIZO-2 in Ussuriysk.

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    February 7, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation

    Judge Olesya Ulyanova decides to read out the protocols of the interrogations of three witnesses in the case in connection with their failure to appear in court due to illness. The lawyer objects to the actions of the presiding judge.

    During the interrogation, another prosecution witness indicates that he does not know the defendants, does not know who Jehovah's Witnesses are, and this is the first time he has heard about the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. The man admits that during the interrogation he was pressured - if he does not testify, he will increase the period of supervision. The prosecutor asks to read out the record of his interrogation. In this regard, the court sends to the Investigative Committee an extract of the minutes of the court session and the protocol of the interrogation of the witness to check the actions of the detectives Bradul and Bolshak for coercion to testify (Article 302 of the Criminal Code).

    The next witness says that this is the first time he has heard the name "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses."

    The court attaches to the case file the decision on the refusal of the Investigative Committee to initiate a criminal case in relation to the investigation into the abuse of authority by investigator Elena Piskun.

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    February 8, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation

    There are two witnesses in court: a mother and a daughter, a disabled person of group I. The testimony of the latter was read out at the previous meeting. The mother reports that she does not know the defendants, she has not heard extremist appeals from them, but she noticed that studying the Bible makes them better, helps them get rid of bad habits. She refutes some of the testimony attributed to her, which was given under pressure.

    The woman's daughter is summoned for interrogation. She says that the investigator insulted her because of her disability.

    The prosecutor petitions for the disclosure of the testimony of secret witnesses Alexei and Elka, since one of them is outside the Primorsky Territory, and the other is being treated in the hospital.

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    February 20, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    The court proceeds to study the written materials of the case. From the 5th to the 8th volumes, the search protocols, the conclusion of psycholinguistic and religious examinations are announced.

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    February 21, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance

    At the court session, the reading of the case materials continues.

    Anatoly Lee explains to the court that at the service believers are encouraged "to love, kindness, to discuss and study the Bible." He adds that back in 2019 it became known about the possible persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses by the authorities. However, the believers "did not hide from law enforcement agencies, because they understood that they had not committed any crime against people or the state."

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    February 27, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance Detention center Elderly

    The court is considering the issue of extending the period of detention of defendants in the pre-trial detention center until June 22. By this time, the believers will have been detained for 21 months.

    Anatoly Lee objects to this. He emphasizes that he voluntarily appeared in the investigating authorities and by his actions showed that he was not going to hide. The defense draws the court's attention to the fact that he has been in jail for almost a year and a half, although Russian law prohibits keeping a person in custody for so long only on the basis of the severity of the charge. In addition, the guilt of the defendant has not been proven, and Anatoly himself never tried to influence the course of the investigation.

    Natalia Sharapova declares: "I have no need to escape. Moreover, I live with my elderly mother, who is already 82 years old. My mom broke her leg and can't walk. I really want to help her, to be there for her. I obey God's laws, which speak only of love. And psycholinguistic examinations confirm that there was no extremism in my actions."

    Nataliya's lawyer notes: "Of course, the court will decide whether joint prayers are a crime, but [even in the case of accusations of] serious crimes, people are given a mitigated measure of restraint. It is unwise to keep people under the strictest measure of restraint for so long for drinking tea and discussing the Bible."

    Sharapova and Lee separately ask the court to release Boris Andreev from the pre-trial detention center, as his health is deteriorating. Boris's defenders add that, on the recommendation of an oncologist, a believer needs to undergo regular medical examinations. In addition, they draw attention to the fact that Andreev is more than 72 years old (he is one of the oldest Jehovah's Witnesses behind bars - Ed.).

    Despite the arguments voiced, the judge leaves all three behind bars. Then the court proceeds to the study of the case materials.

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    March 6, 2024 Hearing in a court of the first instance Interrogation Secret witness

    A secret witness under the pseudonym "Yolka" is being interrogated. According to her, she attended worship services of Jehovah's Witnesses in the homes of believers several times. The witness admits that she did not hear any extremist calls from believers and that there was a friendly atmosphere at the meetings.

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    March 14, 2024 Detention center Court of Appeal

    The Primorye Regional Court is considering the complaint of believers about detention. They refer to a review of judicial practice approved by the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on January 18, 2017, according to which "the gravity of the crime alone cannot be the only and sufficient basis for detention."

    Natalya Sharapova notes: "The state prosecutor said that I could go into hiding under pain of a long term. I have been in prison for more than 16 months, I know what prison is, and I am not afraid here. I am a believer and I live according to biblical laws that speak of love for people, I am not at enmity with people, so I am not afraid, even if they give me 6 years."
    Boris Andreyev declares: "My health has deteriorated ... It's not that I run away - I can't go far. According to the doctor's opinion, I need medical supervision. With a schedule of court hearings, I could easily combine court hearings with treatment in medical institutions.
    The court leaves the believers in custody.