In February 2020, Vladimir Ermolaev and his wife, Valeriya, were woken up by a group of security forces who stormed their apartment in Chita. Because of his faith in Jehovah God, Vladimir was detained and then placed under house arrest. For more than a year, a peaceful believer was forced to defend his good name in court, and in June 2022, the court sentenced him to 6.5 years in prison.
Vladimir was born in 1988 in Kurdzhinovo, a village in Karachay-Cherkessia, where an entire community of Jehovah's Witnesses moved from Siberia in the 1970s. The whole large family of Vladimir in four generations professes this religion. He has three brothers and a sister.
Believing parents instilled in their children high moral standards and respect for work. Vladimir earned his first money while still in elementary school: he collected forest flowers and sold them. In addition to general education, he graduated from a children's art school and continued to develop his creative abilities at the college of the city of Georgievsk in the Stavropol region, where he mastered the specialty "technician-architect". In the same place, Vladimir completed a training course in interior design.
Due to peace-loving convictions, instead of military service, Vladimir underwent alternative civilian service (ACS) in the TB dispensary in the city of Irkutsk, working there as a janitor and handyman. When Irkutsk television aired a report about “alternatively serving Vladimir Ermolaev,” he was already in charge of the hospital warehouse. After graduating from the ACS, Vladimir worked as a restorer of wooden products, including antiques—he gave a second life to musical instruments and furniture.
In 2014, Vladimir married Valeriya, who shares his religious views. After the wedding, the family moved to Chita, where they made many new friends. Valeriya is a professional hairdresser and makeup artist. She loves to sing, dance, for some time she studied vocals. Together, the Ermolaevs love to go hiking. Before the prosecution, they enjoyed travelling.
Despite the criminal prosecution, Vladimir maintains a positive attitude. Speaking in court shortly before sentencing, he emphacized: “Even if I am convicted, it will not stop me from believing in Jehovah God. If the court decides to deprive me of my liberty, I will go to prison as a Jehovah's Witness and come out of it as a Jehovah's Witness!”