Feliks Makhammadiyev with his wife, Yevgeniya. Tashkent (January 2021)

Served Sentences

Feliks Makhammadiyev has been released. He was deported from Russia, and reconnected with his wife at the central railway station in Tashkent

Orenburg Region,   Saratov Region

On January 21, 2021, Feliks Makhammadiyev, having fully served his 3-year prison sentence for his faith, having lost his Russian citizenship due to criminal prosecution, was released in the country of his birth. His wife, Yevgenia, a Russian citizen, left the country after him.

Felix Makhammadiev was severely beaten by guards in Penal Colony No. 1 in the Orenburg region, with a broken rib and punctured lung, and ended up in hospital. On December 31, 2020, after his release from the colony, Feliks Makhammadiyev was placed behind barbed wire in a migration center. On the night of January 20, Interior Ministry officials put him on a train to Tashkent, and 20 hours later he was reunited with his wife.

Following the ban on Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, Feliks Makhammadiyev became the first member of that religion to serve a full court-ordered sentence in a penal colony for his faith. He was also the first prisoner of conscience to have his citizenship revoked effectively on the basis of his religious affiliation.

Felix has lived in Russia since 2002, when he arrived as a teenager with his mother from Uzbekistan. Here he led a law-abiding life - obtained citizenship, worked as a hairdresser, and created a family. However, in the summer of 2018, a criminal case was opened against him and five other believers from Saratov on charges of organizing extremist activity. The only culpability of the believers was peaceful religious meetings, where they read the Bible and discussed Christian teachings. All five were found guilty, Felix was sentenced to 3 years in a minimum-security penal colony.

"I cherish a clear conscience before God and my neighbors ... I have never questioned the correctness of the norms of right and wrong set forth in secular laws," Feliks Makhammadiyev told the court shortly before his sentencing. "In my heart I experience dignity for the humiliation through which we still go, without making me, my family or my friends bitter to society.

In a colony hundreds of miles from home, the believer endured brutal beatings, unjust treatment, and grueling labor. As his wife, Eugenia, said shortly before Felix's release, he endured it all with an inherent smile: "I am very proud of him! Not only did he survive the trial with dignity, but he continues to endure the hardships with dignity."

Case of Bazhenov and Others in Saratov

Case History
In September 2019, Judge Dmitry Larin immediately sent 6 Saratov residents to prison for a term of 2 to 3.5 years just for reading the Bible, singing songs and praying. Since 2017, security forces have been conducting covert surveillance of believers. In the summer of 2018, their homes were searched with banned literature planted. While the investigation was underway, they had to go to a pre-trial detention center, under house arrest and under recognizance not to leave. A year later, despite the absence of victims in the case, the believers were found guilty. Upon arrival at the Orenburg colony, 5 out of 6 convicted believers were beaten by the staff of the institution. Mahammadiev was hospitalized, and the rest were placed in a punishment cell for a while. Saratov prisoners of conscience have mastered various professions in prison. In May 2020, Mahammadiev and Bazhenov were stripped of their Russian citizenship and, after their release, deported from Russia. All 6 believers have already served their sentences. In September 2022, the cassation court dismissed the complaint, and the verdict and the appellate ruling were unchanged.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Saratov Region
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:
June 9, 2018
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Saratov Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
Case History