In the photo: Sergey Filatov with his wife

Unjust Verdicts

The Court in Crimea Upheld the Sentence to Sergey Filatov. The Believer Will Go to the Colony for 6 Years for Reading the Bible


On May 26, 2020, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Crimea upheld the sentence on Sergey Filatov, a resident of Dzhankoy, ignoring numerous violations in the case and the UN Working Group's demand for the release of Jehovah's Witnesses arrested in Russia. Filatov's only fault was reading the Bible with his family and friends.

The Dzhankoy District Court sentenced Sergey Filatov, father of four children, two of whom are minors, to 6 years in a general regime colony on March 5, 2020, finding him guilty of "undermining the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the state.

The sentence was appealed, and the case is rife with mass inconsistencies and falsifications. Among other things, the investigation illegally changed the evidence in the case, involved false witnesses and experts who did not provide diplomas confirming their competence. At the same time, the court refused to consider those certificates that required consideration by the Filatov's defense.

On 26 May, the Crimean Supreme Court, having considered the appeal, ruled that Filatov's conviction was lawful: 6 years of imprisonment in a general regime colony with deprivation of the right to engage in educational activities for 5 years, with a restriction of liberty for 1 year.

The judges considered insignificant the decision of the UN Working Group, which has already pointed out three times the absurdity of Jehovah's Witnesses accusations of extremism. This international body demanded the immediate closure of the criminal cases initiated "only because [the accused] peacefully practiced their religious beliefs, including carrying religious texts and the Bible, and gathered together in worship services with fellow believers".

After the appeal decision, Filatov's sentence came into effect. In which colony the believer will serve the term, it is not known yet. Since March 5, 2020, he has been held in the detention center № 1 for the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol. According to the law, the time of stay in the pre-trial detention facility is counted as 1 day of the pre-trial detention facility equals 1.5 days in the colony. Sergei stayed in the pre-trial detention center for about three months and will remain in the colony until January 23, 2026. This is the longest period of time that the convicted Jehovah's Witnesses have been appointed.

"I firmly know that I have not committed any crime either before God or before the state. I am judged for the fact that I am a Christian and consider my faith to be true ... and I can not abandon it, - said Sergey Filatov in his last speech addressed to the Dzhankoysky district court. - Whatever sentence I get, I will in any case leave the courtroom acquitted in the eyes of my family, my friends".

Case of Filatov in Dzhankoy

Case History
Sergey Filatov, a father of four, lived a quiet life in Dzhankoy, where he moved from the Kherson region to care for his sick daughter. One autumn evening in 2018, during a large-scale raid by law enforcement officers, his house was attacked by a detachment of armed special forces. Law enforcement officers considered that an exemplary family man “undermines the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the state.” It is noteworthy that there were no victims in the criminal case, the prosecution witness was a security officer, and the rector of an Orthodox church and a local resident, Alexei Voznyak, with a “higher education in religious studies”, were involved as specialists. On March 5, 2020, the judge of the Dzhankoy District Court, Maria Ermakova, sentenced the believer to 6 years in prison. He is serving his sentence in a penal colony. Sergey remains in good spirits and is respected among the prisoners.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Suspected of:
"At an unspecified time, no later than October 13, 2017, carried out organizational activities aimed at continuing the unlawful activities of this organization [Jehovah’s Witnesses LRO 'Sivash'], expressed in holding meetings and religious speeches, and also promoting religious ideas of this organization by means of registered dwelling place" (from the order on institution of criminal proceedings)
Court case number:
November 10, 2018
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Crimea Region and of the Sevastopol
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
Верховный суд Республики Крым
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Мария Ермакова
Case History