Photo: invasion of believers in Kostroma (July 2018). Photo source: "TV Center"

Criminal Investigation and Trial

In Kostroma, the measure of restraint for young spouses has been softened

Kostroma Region

On January 22, 2019, spouses Sergey and Valeria Rayman were finally allowed to live together, use communications and remove the electronic tracking bracelet from their leg. The court refused to extend the investigator's preventive measure in the form of a ban on leaving the house at night, using the Internet, telephone, mail and communicating with "persons professing the teachings of Jehovah." However, the criminal case has not been dismissed, the spouses still face up to 10 years in prison. The spouses are under recognizance not to leave.

Sergey Rayman spent 59 days in pre-trial detention center No. 1 in the Kostroma region, 30 days under house arrest and another 90 days under the ban on certain actions. Valeria Rayman spent 2 days in custody and another 179 days under the ban on certain actions. All this time, it was impossible for the spouses to lead a full life, even to communicate with each other.

The criminal case against the Rayman spouses was initiated under Part 1 and Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization and participation in the activities of an extremist community) on the grounds that, according to the investigation, citizens gathered in their house four times to discuss the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses. On July 25, 2018, in Kostroma, the forces of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, the Center for Counteracting Extremism and the National Guard conducted searches in the homes of citizens who, according to the investigation, profess the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Raimans' apartment was stormed with scrap.

Law enforcers mistakenly mistake citizens' religion for participation in the activities of an extremist organization. Prominent public figures of Russia, the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, as well as the President of the Russian Federation himself drew attention to this problem. Jehovah's Witnesses have nothing to do with extremism and insist on their complete innocence. The Russian government has repeatedly stated that the decisions of the Russian courts on the liquidation and prohibition of organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses "do not assess the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, do not contain a restriction or prohibition to practice the above teachings individually."

Case of the Raymans in Kostroma

Case History
In July 2018, the life of young spouses Sergey and Valeria Rayman was divided into “before” and “after”. They were accused of extremism under two articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation for participating in worship services. The Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Kostroma Region investigated the case for 1.5 years. During this time, the couple survived imprisonment in solitary confinement, a ban on correspondence and reading the Bible, house arrest, and a restriction on communication even with each other. In August 2019, the court began considering their case, but 1.5 months later returned it to the prosecutor for the unfounded accusation. After re-examining the case, the court sentenced Sergey and Valeriya to 8 and 7 years of probation, respectively. In February 2021, the regional court reduced the terms to 3 and 2 years, but the cassation returned the case to the appeal stage. Based on the results of the reconsideration in the regional court, Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation was excluded from the verdict and the spouses were given 7 and 6.5 years suspended with a probationary period of 2 years. In August 2022, the cassation court finally approved this decision.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Kostroma Region
Locality:
Kostroma
Suspected of:
according to the investigation they participated in religious services, which is interpreted as organising and participating in the activities of an extremist organisation (with reference to the decision of the Russian Supreme Court on the liquidation of all 396 registered organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses).
Court case number:
11802340011000073
Initiated:
July 24, 2018
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigative Department for the Tsentralniy District of the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Kostroma Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-322/2019
Court:
Свердловский районный суд г. Костромы
Judge:
Дмитрий Балаев
[i18n] Суд апелляционной инстанции:
Костромской областной суд
Case History