Photo: Artem Gerasimov

Unjust Verdicts

Six Years in Prison Instead of a Fine. The Crimean Supreme Court on Appeal Did Not Commute, but Toughened the Sentence of One of Jehovah's Witnesses


On June 4, 2020 the Supreme Court of Crimea considered the appeal of Artyom Gerasimov, who asked to be acquitted. On the contrary, the court announced a tougher punishment for his talking about God: instead of a fine of 400 thousand rubles, he was sentenced to six years in prison. The believer was taken into custody in the courtroom.

Earlier, on March 5, 2020, the Yalta City Court sentenced Artyom Gerasimov to a large fine. The verdict was appealed.

[i18n] Addition. It became known that along with an appeal from a believer, a prosecutor’s appeal was filed to the court “for the sentence is lenient”. As a result, the panel of judges (Judge-Rapporteur - Aleksei Lastov) denied the appeal of the believer, but partially satisfied the representation of the prosecutor. The prosecutor, Oksana Chuchueva, asked for a 6.5-year sentence in the colony. On June 4, during the appeal hearing the Supreme Court of Crimea took the side of the prosecution and replaced the fine with imprisonment. The verdict came into force. The defense intends to appeal this decision to the court of cassation.

"The decision of the Crimean Supreme Court brings religious persecution to a new level of brutality. After the ban on legal entities of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, the appeal instances have never toughened the punishment, realizing that there are no real crimes behind the charges against believers," said Yaroslav Sivulskiy, a representative of the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses, pointing out that the judicial authorities ignore repeated demands of international structures to immediately stop repressing Jehovah's Witnesses.

Earlier, the court in Dzhankoy sentenced Sergey Filatov, a fellow believer of Gerasimov, to the same prison term.

Case of Gerasimov in Yalta

Case History
In March 2019, Artyom Gerasimov, a cook by profession, was accused of organizing the activities of an extremist organization. So the investigation called the peaceful conversations of the believer on religious topics and reading the Bible in a close circle, seeing in this a “public danger.” The apartments of Gerasimov and other believers were searched. A year later, the Yalta City Court sentenced him to a fine of 400 thousand rubles, but on June 4, 2020, the Supreme Court of Crimea toughened the sentence, replacing the fine with 6 years in prison. After Artyom was sent to the colony, the FSB officers began to “develop” his friends and acquaintances.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Suspected of:
according to the investigation, together with others he conducted religious services, which is interpreted as organising the activity of an extremist organisation (with reference to the decision of the Russian Supreme Court on the liquidation of all 396 registered organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Court case number:
March 15, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia for the Republic of Crimea
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-17/2020 (1-376/2019)
Ялтинский городской суд Республики Крым
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Владимир Романенко
Case History