Unjust Verdicts

A Second Appeal in Birobidzhan Left Unchanged Konstantin Guzev's Sentence: a Two-and-a-Half Year Suspended Sentence For Believing in Jehovah God

On March 14, 2022, the court of the Jewish Autonomous Region, presided by judge Angela Sizova, having considered the case of Konstantin Guzev, ruled to make minor changes to the sentence that do not change its essence.

The sentence was passed by the Birobidzhan District Court in February 2021. Judge Aleksey Ivaschenko sentenced Konstantin Guzev to a 2.5-year suspended sentence for participation in the activities of an extremist organization (Part 2. Article 282.2 of the Russian Criminal Code). In May 2021 the court of appeal confirmed the verdict for the believer, but seven months later the Ninth Court of Appeal of General jurisdiction cancelled this decision and returned the case for a new appeal hearing. That's what took place on March 14, 2022.

Konstantin's wife Anastasiya is among the seventeen Jehovah's Witnesses in Birobidzhan who have been convicted for believing in God. Six more believers are awaiting a court decision.

Case of Guzev in Birobidzhan

Case History
In February 2021, the Birobidzhan District Court of the Jewish Autonomous Region sentenced Konstantin Guzev to 2,5 years of suspended imprisonment. A criminal case for faith under Part 2 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation against a law-abiding builder-repairman was opened in May 2018. A similar case was brought against his wife, Anastasia. Since December 2019, his case has been considered by judge Alexei Ivashchenko. At the hearing, the prosecutor called Konstantin’s house a “crime scene” because he was discussing the Bible with friends via video link. The prosecutor requested 4 years in prison for the believer. In May 2021, the appellate court upheld the verdict, but in December 2021, the court of cassation overturned it and returned the case to the appeal stage. In March 2022, the court of the Jewish Autonomous Region in a different composition again approved the conviction. The court of cassation overturned this decision and sent the case for a new appeal. In July 2022, a decision was made to expunge the criminal record.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Jewish Autonomous Area
Suspected of:
according to the investigation he together with others 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:
July 29, 2019
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Jewish Autonomous Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-12/2021 (1-49/2020; 1-625/2019)
Биробиджанский районный суд ЕАО
Алексей Иващенко
Case History