After his release from the penal colony, Seidkuliev was kept in a deportation center and expelled from the country


Rustam Seidkuliev, One of Jehovah's Witnesses, was Deported to Turkmenistan, Although the Court Allowed Him to Stay in Russia for Another Six Months

Saratov Region

On September 17, 2023, employees of the Federal Migration Service, contrary to a court decision, deported Rustam Seidkuliev to Turkmenistan. Earlier, at the initiative of the FSB, his Russian citizenship was revoked due to criminal prosecution for his faith.

Seidkuliev was sentenced to two years and four months to penal colony for participating in worship services and talking about Bible topics. In total, Rustam spent a little more than a year and ten months behind bars. After Seidkuliev's release from the colony, additional punishment came into force. It was not associated with imprisonment and allowed him to live with his wife and move freely around Saratov, and to communicate with friends and to work.

Two months later, a decision was made to deport him, and on June 19, the believer was detained and placed in the Temporary Detention Center for Foreign Citizens. The believer's defense appealed against this decision. The Kirov District Court of Saratov allowed Rustam Seidkuliev to be deported only after serving an additional sentence. This gave him the opportunity to stay in Russia with his family for more than six months after his release from the colony. Contrary to the court's decision, the believer was deported ahead of time.

According to Seidkuliev himself, FMS officers tried to expel him from the country twice. The first attempt was on September 15, but the flight was delayed, and the believer was returned to the detention center. "The next day, the staff came and said, 'You have 15 minutes to get ready,'" the believer recalls. "After that, they were taken to Moscow by car, explaining the rush because of the order of the authorities."

Seidkuliev arrived in Ashgabat at 3 a.m. There he was kept at border control for about 12 hours and released after paperwork was completed.

More than 20 years ago, Rustam's stepfather was deported from Turkmenistan because he was one of Jehovah's Witnesses. This is how the Seidkuliev family ended up in Saratov.

Rustam Seidkuliev became the fourth Jehovah's Witness to be deported from the country by the Russian authorities because of his religion since 2017. Previously, this happened to Dennis Christensen, Feliks Makhammadiev and Konstantin Bazhenov.

Case of Seidkuliev in Saratov

Case history
In January 2020, the Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against Rustam Seidkuliev. He was accused of extremism for reading and discussing the Bible. Two weeks later, the police detained a believer in a shopping center in Adler. He was transported to the city of Saratov and placed under house arrest for seven months. In March 2021, Seidkuliev’s case came to court. Two months later he was found guilty and sentenced to two and a half years in a general regime colony. The regional court reduced this period by two months. The Court of Cassation approved this decision. Seidkuliev served his sentence in Penal Colony-33 in Saratov. During this time, the FSB accomplished the revocation of his Russian citizenship. In April 2023, the believer was released from the colony, and in September he was deported to Turkmenistan.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Saratov Region
Court case number:
January 29, 2020
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate for the Leninsky District, Saratov, Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Saratov Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2)
Court case number:
Ленинский районный суд г. Саратова
Андрей Ефимов