Blagoveshchensk. Photo source: Dima Ostrovsky / CC BY 2.0

Criminal Investigation and Trial

In Blagoveshchensk, a new criminal case was opened for faith. Two men signed a recognizance agreement

Amur Region

On October 21, 2019, V. S. Obukhov, an investigator of the Investigation Department of the FSB of Russia for the Amur Region, issued a decision to initiate a new criminal case under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Sergey Yermilov and Anton Olshevsky are now accused of extremism. Both were taken on their own recognizance.

This is not the first criminal case initiated against civilians in Blagoveshchensk. On July 20, 2018, searches were carried out in seven homes of believers in the city. One of them was Dmitry Golik, in whose apartment a listening device was installed. For almost six months, operatives listened to the details of the personal life of Dmitry and his wife. On January 21, 2019, Alexei Berchuk was detained at the Moscow airport and taken to Blagoveshchensk. Both men signed recognizance agreements. A preliminary investigation of the criminal case is underway.

Thus, the authorities of Blagoveshchensk interpret the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of religion as organizing and participating in the activities of an extremist organization. Sergey Yermilov and Anton Olshevskiy face real prison terms just because they believe in God.

Case of Olshevskiy and others in Blagoveshchensk

Case History
In July 2018, searches were carried out at 7 addresses in Blagoveshchensk as part of a criminal case against local believers. A little over a year later, Obukhov, an investigator of the FSB Directorate for the Amur Region, opened a criminal case against Anton Olshevskiy and Sergey Yermilov on suspicion of participating in extremist activities. In September 2020, Adam Svarichevsky, Sergey Afanasyev and Sergey Kardakov also became defendants in this case (his house was searched). In March 2021, the charges against believers were changed: all five were accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization, and Afanasyev was also accused of financing it. In September 2021, the case of the believers went to court. A year and two months later, the court found the believers guilty of extremism and sentenced Afanasiyev to 6.5 years, Kardakov to 6 years and 4 months, and Yermilov, Olshevsky and Svarichevsky to 6 years and 3 months in prison. The appeal and cassation upheld the verdict.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Amur Region
Locality:
Blagoveshchensk
Suspected of:
According to the investigation he took part in activities of the liquidated organization through direct involvement in religious activities (with reference to the decision of the Russian Federation Supreme Court to liquidate all 396 registered organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Court case number:
11907100001000062
Initiated:
October 21, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigating:
Investigation Office of Russian Federal Security Office for Amur region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1), 282.3 (1)
Court case number:
1-135/2022 (1-1408/2021)
Court:
Благовещенский городской суд Амурской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Дарья Варкалевич
Case History