Unjust Verdicts

Court of Cassation Upheld the Sentence Against Andrey Vlasov - 7 Years in a Penal Colony, Although According to the Law He Should Not Be in Prison

Kemerovo Region

On February 7, 2023, the Eighth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction (Kemerovo) upheld the decisions of lower courts regarding 54-year-old Andrey Vlasov, a disabled person. The believer will continue to serve his 7-year sentence in a penal colony, despite severe illness.

Vlasov was convicted under part 1 of Article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation for peacefully practicing his religion. The law enforcement officers established only that believers held religious services, but at the same time, as the lawyer emphasizes, the investigation did not have information about a single action of the convict that could be considered a crime.

The defense cited the opinion of a medical specialist, according to which the conditions of stay in the pre-trial detention center and the penal colony contribute to the deterioration of Andrey Vlasov's health. His illness is included in the government-approved list of serious illnesses that prevent detention, but the courts of both instances ignored this fact. “The orthopedist, having seen the pictures, confirmed that with such a diagnosis, it's impossible to be in prison, and prison is the place where nothing is provided for the disabled at all,” said Andrey’s wife, Natalya.

The believer's lawyer drew attention to the seriousness of the situation in his appeal: "If the court agrees with such a brutal and unfair verdict and appeal ruling, this will lead to Vlasov leaving the penal colony, at best, on a stretcher."

“Such a punishment can be considered as degrading human dignity,” continues the defense. “Vlasov cannot take care of himself and constantly needs help with basic everyday tasks: he cannot reach his legs with his hands, because his joints restrict his movement, he can only take steps of ten centimeters.”

Despite his health problems, Andrey tries to remain optimistic. In a conversation with his lawyer, Vlasov highlighted that “letters of support strengthen and encourage him, and he copes with difficulties thanks to the support of Jehovah God.”

In its decision of June 7, 2022, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia “should take all necessary measures to end the criminal prosecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses and release imprisoned Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

The Case of Vlasov in Prokopevsk

Case History
In July 2020, a criminal case was initiated against Andrey Vlasov, a disabled Jehovah’s Witness from Prokopyevsk. The FSB accused him of organizing the activity of an extremist organization. Searches were carried out in Vlasov’s home, as well as at his workplace. Despite the fact that he cannot manage without assistance, he was placed in a temporary detention facility, and three days later he was placed under house arrest. In June 2021, the Vlasov case went to court. Although the believer’s health was deteriorating, the court would not let him visit the doctor and repeatedly extended the house arrest. The prosecutor asked for a sentence of 8.5 years in prison for him. In May 2022, the court sentenced Vlasov to 7 years in a penal colony. He was taken into custody in the courtroom and sent to a detention center. There he fell ill, so he was sent to the medical correctional institution No. 16 of Novokuznetsk. In October 2022, the believer was placed in correctional institution No. 3 in Novosibirsk to serve his sentence. Despite the severe condition of Andrey Vlasov, neither the court of appeal nor the court of cassation mitigated this unprecedented verdict.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Kemerovo Region
Suspected of:
"Using a technical means that allows for video conferencing ... organized a religious meeting" (from the verdict to Andrei Vlasov)
Court case number:
July 2, 2020
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Branch of the Federal Security Service of Russia in the Kemerovo Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-21/2022 (1-246/2021)
Центральный районный суд г. Прокопьевска Кемеровской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Павел Котыхов
Case History