This morning,the Karpinsk City Court convicted Brother Aleksandr Prianikov, along with Sisters Venera and Darya Dulova. The court issued them suspended prison sentences of two and a half years, two years, and one year, respectively. Although they will not go to prison at this time, they will remain on probation for the duration of their sentences.
They will appeal their convictions.
Jarrod Lopes, spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses at their world headquarters, states: "It is no surprise that Russia has convicted three more Jehovah's Witnesses. Yet, it remains an injustice for these peaceful men and women to be convicted and stigmatized as 'extremists,' a burdensome consequence for nothing more than peacefully practicing their Christian beliefs. Including the three today, Russia has now convicted 24 Jehovah's Witnesses in just under a year. Russia has shown no signs of slowing down despite repeated criticism from prominent international bodies and human rights advocates. Russian authorities today are following in the footsteps of their Soviet predecessors. It is well documented, though, that Jehovah’s Witnesses resolutely held to their religious convictions in the face of Soviet oppression. Likewise, since the 2017 ban, our fellow believers in Russia continue to stand firm in their faith, despite the growing threat of arrest and imprisonment.”
Facts about the Prianikov/Dulova case:
On April 19, 2016, Mr. Prianikov and Ms. Venera Dulova spoke with a man about the Bible. A relative of the man accused Prianikov and V. Dulova of theft and called the police. Both were taken to the police department. The police fingerprinted them and seized their literature.
Based on that incident, more than two years later they were again taken into custody for questioning. Their phones and other personal documents were seized. The chief of police assigned an assistant professor of theology to examine the information on the phones of Prianikov and V. Dulova. The professor’s 15-page report concluded that their devices contained the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Largely on that basis, the prosecution initiated a criminal case. The Karpinsk City Court subsequently authorized the authorities to search their homes.
During the search of V. Dulova’s apartment, the officers seized electronic devices, books, and photographs. V. Dulova’s 18-year-old daughter, Darya, was interrogated. Officers went on to search the home of their relatives as well as the Prianikov family’s apartment.
Again, on the morning of April 16, 2019, three Federal Security Service (FSB) agents, an investigator, and two other officers, raided the Prianikov’s home. The officers confiscated electronic devices and other personal items.
On July 23, 2019, Darya Dulova was summoned for questioning as a suspect in the criminal case involving her mother and Mr. Prianikov. All three were indicted, and preliminary hearings for their case began in September 2019.
Russia’s ongoing crackdown against JWs, including today's verdict:
301 under criminal investigation
24 men and women convicted for peaceful worship (9 sentenced to prison;
15 fined or on probation)
27 men and women in pretrial detention
26 under house arrest