Aleksandr Shutov with his wife, Roza, on the day of the verdict. June 2023

Unjust Verdicts

In the Khabarovsk Territory, a Court Found 70-Year-Old Aleksandr Shutov Guilty of Extremism for Reading the Bible With Friends

Khabarovsk Territory

On June 9, 2023, the Lazo District Court of the Khabarovsk Territory found Aleksandr Shutov, 70, guilty of extremism. Judge Yevgeniya Stetsa sentenced him to 2 years and 5 months of suspended sentence with a probationary period of 2 years and restriction of liberty for 6 months for participation in the services of Jehovah's Witnesses. The verdict has not entered into force.

“I view this criminal case as repression,” Aleksandr said in court. “The investigative agency groundlessly and unreasonably replaced the concept of exercising the right of citizens to freedom of religion, which includes a person's right to read the Bible and discuss it with friends, with the concept of carrying out extremist activities. ... My only intention was to worship God; doing so is typical for the religion I profess. And the motive of my actions was love for God and neighbor.” The believer has the right to appeal the verdict.

The search of the Shutov family's home took place at the end of July 2021. The criminal case was conducted by FSB Investigator S. V. Nemtsev and by the head of the Vyazemsky Department of the FSB, Aleksey Svetachev. They also initiated the prosecution of other persons who are Jehovah's Witnesses in Vyazemskoye: Yen Sen Lee, Yegor Baranov, and Sergey Kuznetsov. Yegor and Sergey received suspended sentences of four and a half years and two and a half years respectively, and Yen Sen died while under investigation. The FSB officers used against them and Shutov the testimony of a woman who slandered the believers under pressure from the security forces—according to her, she was threatened with deprivation of parental rights.

Eric Patterson, executive vice president of the Religious Liberty Institute, called Russia's ongoing persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses unfair and ridiculous, saying, "It contributes to a climate of fear and social stagnation."

The case of Shutov in Vyazemsky

Case History
In July 2021, the FSB in Khabarovsk opened a criminal case against Aleksandr Shutov for participating in the activities of an extremist organization. The house of Aleksandr and his wife was searched. Then the believer was interrogated and released on recognizance not to leave. In March 2022, Shutov’s case was brought to court. As evidence of the defendant’s guilt, the prosecution used the testimony of a witness who had previously been forced to give false testimony against two other believers. The prosecutor requested 3 years and 5 months for the believer. The court sentenced Aleksandr to 2 years and 5 months of suspended sentence with a probationary period of 2 years and restriction of liberty for 6 months.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Khabarovsk Territory
Suspected of:
According to investigators, the believer took part in the activities of a banned organization, attended services and read the Bible.
Court case number:
July 26, 2021
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the FSB of Russia in the Khabarovsk Territory
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
1-5/2023 (1-166/2022)
Court of First Instance:
суд района имени Лазо Хабаровского края
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Евгения Стеца
Case History