Photo: Oleksiy Berchuk

Criminal trial

The believer was detained in Moscow and forced to leave for the Amur region

Amur Region

On January 21, 2019, 43-year-old Alexei Berchuk was detained while passing through passport control at the Moscow airport. The next day, he was charged under Part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code, and was forced to cancel his plans and, together with the senior investigator of the FSB of Russia for the Amur Region, go to Blagoveshchensk, where his case is being investigated. He signed a recognizance not to leave.

Before the arrival of the FSB investigator from Blagoveshchensk, Aleksey Berchuk was in custody for 2 days. It turned out that on June 22, 2018, a criminal case was opened against him in the Amur Region, according to which on July 20, 2018, in Blagoveshchensk, searches were carried out in at least 5 homes of citizens who are considered Jehovah's Witnesses. Another resident of Blagoveshchensk, 31-year-old Dmitry Golik, was also involved as a defendant in a similar case. He is charged with Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (participation in the activities of an extremist organization).

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 Berchuk and Golik in Blagoveshchensk

Case History
In October 2017, the FSB began covertly filming the private life of Dmitry Golik and his wife, as well as the peaceful worship services of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Blagoveshchensk. In June 2018, a criminal case was opened against Aleksey Berchuk, and a month later searches were carried out at 7 families of believers. Berchuk and Golik were charged with organizing an extremist community. In January 2019, Berchuk was detained at a Moscow airport and taken into custody. A measure of restraint in the form of a written undertaking not to leave was chosen for the believers. On February 6, 2020, the case was submitted to the Blagoveshchensk City Court. On June 30, 2021, judge Tatyana Studilko found the believers guilty and sentenced them to a record cruel punishment: 7 and 8 years in a general regime colony. On September 2, 2021, the Amur Regional Court reduced Dmitriy Golik’s prison term by 10 months. The verdict against Aleksey Berchuk was upheld. In February 2022, the Court of Cassation upheld the verdict.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Amur Region
Suspected of:
according to the investigation he participated in religious services, which is interpreted as participation in the activity of an extremist organisation
Court case number:
June 22, 2018
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Amur Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-39/2021 (1-333/2020)
Court of First Instance:
Благовещенский городской суд Амурской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Татьяна Студилко
Case History