Updated: June 20, 2024
Name: Tsarev Igor Olegovich
Date of Birth: May 14, 1974
Current status: who has served the main sentence
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation: 282.2 (2)
Sentence: punishment in the form of imprisonment for a term of 2 years 6 months with restriction of liberty for a term of 1 year; The sentence of imprisonment shall be considered suspended with a probationary period of 2 years


On July 30, 2019, the law enforcement agencies of Birobidzhan opened a new criminal case for believing in God. His defendant was Igor Tsarev. The investigation lasted about 5 months, and then for more than a year the believer defended his good name in court. The court sentenced the father of his minor daughter to 2.5 years of probation only because of his faith. An appeal in Birobidzhan upheld the verdict.

He was born in 1974 in the village of Birakan, Obluchensky district (Jewish Autonomous Region), near the border with China. He has two younger sisters. As a teenager, while at school, Igor began working to help his family. During the summer holidays, he worked on cutting down trees, in a carpentry shop, and helped his father work as an electrician. He liked to spend his free time in nature, fishing, riding a moped. After school, he went to study at DOSAAF, where he received the specialty of a driver, and immediately went into the army. Then he worked as a driver, furniture assembler and electrician.

Even in the army, Igor began to think about the meaning of life. I wanted to understand and understand whether God really exists and how to come to him. "I even prayed as best I could," he recalls. After the army, Igor, together with his father, tried to find answers to their questions, and the search led to the Bible.

In 1998, Igor married Viktoria, and they moved to Birobidzhan together. The couple are raising a schoolgirl daughter. The criminal case completely changed the lives of these law-abiding people. "Very soon, with the verdict of the court, my life will change dramatically," says Igor. - Yes, it has already changed! I have restrictions on movement, as I am under recognizance not to leave. And at work, I had to explain to my boss why law enforcement agencies have an increased interest in me. The company's management is at a loss as to why I am being persecuted for my faith. Although they themselves answer this question: "Christians have always been persecuted."

Igor's relatives are also discouraged by the current situation and are very worried about him.

Case History

In February 2021, Igor Tsarev, the father of a minor child, was given a 2.5-year suspended sentence. A believer from Birobidzhan was tried for participating in the activities of an extremist organization. The charges were based on video footage obtained by FSB officers during covert filming of a worship service. The criminal case was considered for more than a year by Judge Alexei Ivaschenko in the Birobidzhan District Court of the Jewish Autonomous Region. Most of the court hearings were held behind closed doors, ostensibly with the aim of “securing the participants in the trial so that they do not adopt the religious beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Although in the debate the prosecutor acknowledged the right to freedom of religion, at the same time he claimed that Tsarev was allowed to believe “only within himself” and recommended a sentence of 4 years in prison. The Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation upheld the verdict. In June 2022, Judge Yulia Tsykina overturned the current sentence and expunged the conviction of the believer.