Photo: Konstantin Bazhenov
Konstantin Bazhenov, Born in Veliky Novgorod, Became the Second of Jehovah's Witnesses Penalized With Annulled Russian CitizenshipSaratov Region, Ulyanovsk Region
On May 15, 2020, the administration of Colony No. 3 of Dimitrovgrad notified Konstantin Bazhenov, convicted for faith, that his Russian citizenship was annulled. In 2009 Konstantin and his wife moved back from Ukraine to Russia, where they received citizenship. Authorities revoked Bazhenov’s permission to hold Russian citizenship only a few days after the same decision on his fellow believer Felix Makhammadiyev.
Konstantin was born in Veliky Novgorod, as a child he moved to Ukraine with his parents. In 2001, he married Irina from the Donetsk region. In 2009, the couple moved to Russia and received citizenship there.
On September 19, 2019, Konstantin Bazhenov was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison. He was accused in the same criminal case as his five fellow believers from Saratov, including Felix Makhammadiyev, whose permission to grant Russian citizenship was revoked by the authorities just days before the Bazhenov decision.
"The decision to grant citizenship to her husband was revoked on April 20, 2020, but the colony informed him about it only on May 15," said Irina Bazhenova, Konstantin's wife.
According to Yaroslav Sivulsky, a representative of the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses, the revocation of citizenship for Bazhenov and Makhammadiyev testifies to the indiscriminate nature of the Russian justice system. "The authorities, formally following the law, apply the same measures to both terrorists and peaceful believers who are imprisoned only for their beliefs, the meaning of which is love for God and people," Sivulsky commented on the situation.
The international community considers the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses unjust and illegal. Russian human rights activists have included Konstantin Bazhenov and Felix Makhammadiyev in the list of prisoners of conscience.