From left to right: the Mikhalovs, Svetlana Shishina, Svetlana Ryzhkova and Aleksey Arkhipov on the day of the verdict

Unjust Verdicts

A Court in Shuya Fined Five Jehovah's Witnesses for Reading the Bible together. They Must Pay the State From 380 to 950 thousand Rubles

Ivanovo Region

On January 29, 2024, Anton Mokin, judge of the Shuya City Court of the Ivanovo Region, sentenced Aleksey Arkhipov, Svetlana Ryzhkova, Svetlana Shishina, and spouses Dmitriy and Yelena Mikhailova to large fines for believing in Jehovah God.

Aleksey Arkhipov was fined 380,000, Svetlana Shishina 400,000, Svetlana Ryzhkova 480,000, Yelena Mikhailova 560,000, and her husband Dmitriy Mikhailov 950,000 rubles. The prosecution requested a fine of 1,200,000 rubles for Mikhailov, taking into account the time of detention; for Mikhailova and Ryzhkova—600,000 rubles each; for Shishina and Arkhipov—400,000 rubles each. The believers insist on their innocence and have the right to appeal.

"In fact, I am accused of believing in God," Dmitriy Mikhailov commented on the accusation. "I am accused of communicating on religious topics with my friends." He also emphasized that the linguistic forensic examination did not reveal signs of extremism in the materials examined. His wife Yelena said: "The accusation against me is serious, but there is no concrete evidence."

Svetlana Shishina, a mother of two, said: "I have always respected people of different religious denominations, and I teach this to my children as well." "The accusation against me is far-fetched, unfounded and not legal," said Svetlana Ryzhkova. Aleksey Arkhipov, in turn, emphasized: "I never planned and did not intend to commit any illegal actions against the authorities, especially to undermine the foundations of the constitutional order and state security, as this contradicts my beliefs both as a Christian and as a God-fearing person."

Criminal prosecution of believers began in 2018, and their homes were searched. Later it turned out that a hidden video camera had been installed at least one of the addresses in advance, and one person, on the instructions of the special services, was pretending to be interested in the Bible. After his arrest, Dmitriy Mikhailov spent six months in a pre-trial detention center. His wife, together with other women whose husbands were imprisoned for believing in God, sent an open letter to the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights. In response to this letter, a request was sent to the General Prosecutor's Office to check the legality and validity of the criminal prosecution of citizens professing the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. As a result, the criminal prosecution did not stop. The case was twice returned to the investigator for revision and after 4 years it was re-submitted to the court, which considered the case for a year and a half.

On April 26, 2019, the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a decision on Dmitriy Mikhailov's complaint, calling on the Russian authorities to stop his criminal prosecution and grant him the right to compensation and reparation.

Case of the Mikhaylovs and Others in Shuya

Case History
Wiretapping, the introduction of a provocateur, hidden video filming in the homes of believers — this began the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Shuya in the spring of 2017. A year later, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case under three extremist articles against peaceful believer Dmitry Mikhailov. In April and June 2018, the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses were searched: believers were treated rudely, pressured, and even a 10-year-old girl was interrogated. After the searches, new defendants appeared in the case: Elena Mikhailova, Svetlana Ryzhkova, Svetlana Shishina and Alexey Arkhipov. Dmitry spent 6 months in a pre-trial detention center. In September 2019, the investigator handed over the case to the prosecutor, but a year later he returned it for further investigation. The criminal case went to court in July 2021, but the judge returned it to the prosecutor for revision. The retrial of the case in the same court began in May 2022.

Persons in case

Criminal case

Ivanovo Region
Suspected of:
according to the investigation he participated in religious services, which is interpreted as participating in and funding of “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:
April 19, 2018
Current case stage:
the verdict entered into force
Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Ivanovo Region
Articles of Criminal Code of Russian Federation:
282.2 (2), 282.3 (1), 282.2 (1)
Court case number:
1-1/2024 (1-2/2023; 1-138/2022)
Шуйский городской суд Ивановской области
Judge of the Court of First Instance:
Антон Мокин
Case History