Anna Lokhvitskaya with her husband, Arthur

Unjust Verdicts

In Birobidzhan the Court Gave Anna Lokhvitskaya a 2.5 Year Suspended Sentence for Her Belief in Jehovah. Such a Sentence Had Already Been Imposed on Her Husband and Mother-in-Law

Jewish Autonomous Area

On July 20, 2021, Judge Vasilina Bezotecheskikh of the Birobidzhan District Court of the EAD sentenced Anna Lokhvitskaya to 2.5 years' probation for participating in the activities of a banned organization. The verdict can be appealed. The believer insists that she wasn't involved in any extremism.

Speaking in the debate she stressed that she had no criminal intent: "What is the intent? That I read the Bible? That I sang songs of praise to God? There is not a single person who has been harmed by my contrived accusation of "willful" criminal acts. My life in general, as well as the actions I am charged with, are solely peaceful in nature. If there is no hate or animosity in the motives, there is no corpus delicti. Although there were no victims in the case, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence the believer to four years in a penal colony with further restrictions for another two years.

Just the day before her mother-in-law, Irina Lokhvitskaya, was sentenced in exactly the same way, and in February 2021 her husband, Artur Lokhvitsky, was sentenced. In April 2021, the Court of the Jewish Autonomous Region confirmed Arthur's verdict on appeal - the believer received a 2.5 year suspended sentence.

The case against Anna was initiated by D. Yankin, an investigator of the Federal Security Service of Russia for the EAD, on February 6, 2020. About 7 months later, on August 19, 2020, it was transferred to court. According to the judge's decision, the case was heard behind closed doors, without the presence of the audience, the media, or even relatives. Since the start of the criminal case in February 2020, the believer was under house arrest.

The case of Anna Lokhvitskaya is among 19 criminal cases against 23 Jehovah's Witnesses from the Jewish Autonomous Region.

On April 20, 2021, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responding to a request from a believer, stated: "The step taken [the Supreme Court decision of April 20, 2017] has not restricted the right of citizens to freedom of religion... Participants of a liquidated organization may independently worship, including as part of religious groups that do not require registration, on the understanding that this is not related to the conduct of extremist activity. Nevertheless, Russian courts continue to convict Jehovah's Witnesses.

Foreign figures have also repeatedly stated that religious discrimination against Jehovah's Witnesses is inappropriate and that persecution must cease.

Case of A. Lokhvitskaya in Birobidzhan

Case History
The life of Anna Lokhvitskaya, a garment production technologist, changed dramatically in the summer of 2019 when her husband, Artur, was criminally prosecuted for discussing the Bible among friends. On February 6, 2020, FSB Investigator Dmitry Yankin initiated criminal cases against Anna and five other residents of Birobidzhan on suspicion of participating in extremist activities. The believer was charged with “studying the Bible with others on Skype.” The hearings in the Birobidzhan District Court were held behind closed doors. During the arguments, the prosecutor requested that Anna be sentenced to four years in a general regime penal colony with subsequent restrictions for another two years. On July 20, 2021, Judge Vasilina Bezotecheskih, who also heard cases against three other believers (among them Anna’s mother-in-law), gave Lokhvitskaya a two-and-a-half-year suspended prison sentence. On December 16, 2021, the Court of the Jewish Autonomous Region upheld this verdict.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Jewish Autonomous Area
Court case number:
February 6, 2020
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Branch of the Federal Security Service of Russia in the Jewish Autonomous Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-41/2021 (1-459/2020)
Биробиджанский районный суд ЕАО
Василина Безотеческих
Case History