Anna Lokhvitskaya, July 2021

Unjust Verdicts

The Cassation Court Did Not Change the Sentence Imposed on Anna Lokhvitskaya from Birobidzhan for Her Faith

Jewish Autonomous Area

On September 21, 2022, the Ninth Cassation Court of General Jurisdiction in the city of Vladivostok upheld the sentence imposed on Anna Lokhvitskaya from Birobidzhan—a two-and-a-half-year suspended sentence for her belief in Jehovah God.

The criminal prosecution of the Lokhvitsky family began in May 2018 when searches were carried out in the home of Anna and her husband and in the home of her mother-in-law. Later, in 2019, the FSB initiated a case against Anna's husband, Artur Lokhvitsky, and about a year later, Anna herself and her mother-in-law, Irina, were accused of extremism.

On July 20, 2021, the Birobidzhansky District Court sentenced Anna Lokhvitskaya to a two-and-a-half-year suspended prison sentence. The believer filed an appeal, but the Court of the Jewish Autonomous Region did not grant it.

In her cassation appeal, Anna stated that she was a "victim of discrimination" and a "victim of arbitrary criminal prosecution." She also pointed out that during the entire period of the investigation and trial, her rights guaranteed to her as a citizen of Russia, including freedom of religion and of expression and respect for personal life, family life, and home, were repeatedly violated.

Artur Lokhvitsky and his mother, Irina Lokhvitskaya, were also given two-and-a-half-year suspended prison sentences. The cassation court upheld these judgments.

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.
Timeline

Persons in case

Criminal case

Region:
Jewish Autonomous Area
Locality:
Birobidzhan
Court case number:
12007990001000002
Initiated:
February 6, 2020
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigating:
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)
Court:
Биробиджанский районный суд ЕАО
Judge:
Василина Безотеческих
Background