Railway station station Vyazemskaya. Source: Dr. Leonid Kozlov / CC BY-SA 3.0

Actions of Law Enforcement Officers

The Town of Vyazemsky Becomes a New Hotbed of Religious Persecution: at Least Seven Searches of Believers per Day

Khabarovsk Territory

On May 27, 2020 reports of new searches in Khabarovsk Territory came. According to preliminary information, armed officers of the FSB searched Yen Sen Lee, 68, and his wife, as well as 19-year-old believer and his mother. Both men were detained and taken to an unknown location.

At 21:00 local time, it became known that Yen Sen Lee returned home. Other details are being clarified.

Update. On May 29, 2020 Aleksey Shatilov, judge of the Central District Court of Khabarovsk, made a decision to remand in custody until July 26, 2020, Baranov, 19, a student of the 2nd year of a forestry technical school, the only son of a single mother. Before his arrest Yegor lived with his mother in the town of Vyazemsky. As grounds for his arrest, Judge Shatilov said in a ruling that “Baranov E.A. continues to be a member of the recognized extremist religious organization Jehovah’s Witnesses . . . has established stable religious views and is one of the leaders of this religious organization.”

The total number of searches in believers' homes has already exceeded 900. Large-scale religious persecution in Russia began throughout Russia after a miscarriage of justice—the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation to liquidate and ban all 396 organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. Law enforcement officials, for unknown reasons, interpret the joint worship of these law-abiding citizens for participation in the activities of an extremist organization. Law scholars and human rights activists both in Russia and abroad unanimously condemn the actions of the authorities towards Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.

The Russian government has repeatedly stated that decisions of Russian courts to liquidate and ban Jehovah's Witnesses legal organizations do not prohibit the Jehovah's Witnesses' creeds, "do not contain restrictions or prohibitions on the individual practice of the aforementioned doctrine" and "do not limit the constitutional right of believing citizens to unite.

Case of Baranov and Li in Vyazemskiy

Case History
Yen Sen Li became a victim of religious repression in May 2020. The old age of the believer did not deter the security forces from displaying inhumane treatment: during the search, the elderly Jehovah’s Witness was hit in the stomach and his arms were twisted behind his back; afterward, he was kept for 13 hours in the FSB Directorate building in the Khabarovsk Territory. On the same day, student Yegor Baranov was detained. The court sent him to a pre-trial detention center, where he was kept for six months. While in detention, Baranov was deprived of the right to send and receive letters. Later on, the court seized Li’s car. In January 2021, the case went to trial. A year later, Yen Sen Li died of covid, never having restored his good name. In April 2022, the prosecutor requested six years in a penal colony for Yegor Baranov. In June 2022, the court gave the believer a five-year suspended sentence, and an appeal reduced this term to four and a half years.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Khabarovsk Territory
Court case number:
May 26, 2020
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Khabarovsk Territory Directorate of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1.1), 282.2 (2), 282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-4/2022 (1-52/2021)
Вяземский районный суд Хабаровского края
Ксения Матвиевская
Case History