Trans-Baikal Territory on the map of Russia. Source: Marmelad / CC BY-SA 2.5

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

Transbaikalia Becomes the 54th Region of Russia Where Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Repressed. Searches in the City of Chita and Six Other Settlements

Trans-Baikal Territory

Early in the morning of February 10, 2020, FSB officers began mass raids against believers in the cities of Chita, Baley, Khilok and Krasnokamensk, the villages of Kurort-Darasun, Pervomaiskoye, Amazar, Duldurga, Yasnogorsk and Verkhnyaya Hila. Vladimir Yermolaev, Oleg Podgrushin, Aleksandr Putintsev, Viktor Reshetov and others were detained.

Update. On the evening of February 12, a judge of the Ingodinsky District Court of Chita sent 31-year-old Vladimir Ermolaev, who had been in custody for more than 60 hours, under house arrest. Three believers remain in custody: 47-year-old Sergey Kirilyuk (married), Pavel Mamalimov (married, has a young daughter), 31-year-old Vadim Kutsenko (married). On the eve of the Investigative Committee reported that more than 30 investigative and operational groups were formed, which simultaneously worked in Chita and the districts of the region.

To Alexander and Larisa Vasilyev, who live in Kurort-Darasun together with four children 4, 6, 8 and 16 years old, law enforcement officers invaded early in the morning. During the search, Aleksandr, a group III disabled person, felt unwell, but he was still taken away for interrogation. His wife, Larisa, who works as a neurologist, was left at home with her children, promising that she would be interrogated later. All electronic devices were seized from the family. The only reason for what happened was religion.

In the house of one of the families, law enforcement officers opened the floors during searches. The circumstances of the incident are being investigated.

The Trans-Baikal Territory is the territory where Jehovah's Witnesses were massively exiled to a special settlement during the Stalinist repressions. Later, the believers were rehabilitated and recognized as victims of political repression.

Case of Ermolaev and Others in Chita

Case History
Vladimir Ermolaev, Aleksandr Putintsev, Sergey Kirilyuk and Igor Mamalimov faced prosecution for their faith in 2020, when security forces carried out 50 searches in Chita and other cities in Transbaikalia. During the raid, several believers were detained and two were tortured. Mamalimov, Kirilyuk and Ermolaev were placed in a temporary detention facility, where they spent several days. At some point, four more believers were suspects in the case, but their criminal prosecution was discontinued. For holding peaceful religious services, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation accused Ermolaev, Putintsev, Mamalimov and Kirilyuk of organizing the activity of an extremist organization. Despite the fact that there were no victims in the case and there was no evidence of crimes against the state and the individual, in 2022 the court sentenced Vladimir Ermolaev, Aleksandr Putintsev and Igor Mamalimov to imprisonment in a penal colony for 6 to 6.5 years, and Sergey Kirilyuk - to 6 years suspended. The court of appeal upheld this verdict. The courts of appeal and cassation did not change this verdict.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Trans-Baikal Territory
Suspected of:
According to the investigation, he "took active organizational actions ... expressed in the organization of meetings, the organization of religious speeches and worship ... fundraising under the guise of donations... involvement of new participants... by carrying out the preaching work."
Court case number:
January 20, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Trans-Baikal Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
Court of First Instance:
Центральный районный суд г. Читы
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Марина Куклина
[i18n] Гособвинитель:
Ковыльченко Д. Г.
Case History