Vladimir Atryakhin, Georgiy Nikulin and Elena Nikulina, Alexander Shevchuk, Alexander Korolev and Denis Antonov are present at the hearing befor the court of cassation via video conference. October 2023

Unjust Verdicts

The Court of Cassation Upheld the Verdict Against Six Believers from Saransk. One Of Them Will Be Released in November

Mordovia,   Saratov Region

On October 17, 2023, the First General Jurisdiction Court of Cassation in Saratov upheld the verdict against six believers from Mordovia. By court decision, they were sent to penal colonies for terms ranging from 2 to 6 years.

Vladimir Atryakhin, Georgiy Nikulin and Yelena Nikulina, Aleksandr Shevchuk, Aleksandr Korolev and Denis Antonov have been accused of extremism and imprisoned for peaceful religious activities. Aleksandr Shevchuk is due to be released from prison in November this year after fully serving his sentence. A criminal case has also been initiated against his brother Mikhail on similar charges.

The world community expresses bewilderment in connection with the prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. Back in 2019, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights appealed to the Russian authorities: "We call on the Russian government to revise the Law on Countering Extremist Activities [...]. We also call on the authorities to drop charges and release all those detained for exercising their rights to freedom of religion."

The case of Shevchuk and others in Saransk

Case history
In February 2019, in Saransk, the FSB opened a criminal case against three believers on suspicion of extremism. After mass searches, Vladimir Atryakhin, the father of two young children, as well as Alexander Shevchuk and Georgy Nikulin ended up in a pre-trial detention center, where they spent from 2 to 5 months. Later, 3 more defendants appeared in the case - Alexander Korolev, Elena Nikulina and Denis Antonov. The case went to court in May 2021. The defense managed to show the court several times that the declassified witness Vlasov was giving false testimony. In August 2022, the believers were convicted: Vladimir Atryakhin was sentenced to 6 years, Georgy and Yelena Nikulin — 4 years and 2 months each, and Aleksandr Shevchuk, Aleksandr Korolev and Denis Antonov — 2 years in prison. The appeal upheld the verdict. In November 2023, Aleksandr Shevchuk was released from the colony.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Suspected of:
according to the investigation, they "disseminated ideology and faith among the citizens of the Republic of Mordovia… by conducting convers​ations with citizens of Saransk and other population centers" which is interpreted as "organising the activity of an extremist organisation" (with reference to the decision of the Russian Supreme Court on the liquidation of all 396 registered organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses)
Court case number:
February 4, 2019
Current case stage:
The verdict entered into force
Investigative Department of the Directorate of the FSB of Russia for the Republic of Mordovia
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.2 (1), 282.2 (1.1)
Court case number:
1-13/2022 (1-216/2021)
Ленинский районный суд г. Саранска
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Елена Симонова