In Vladivostok, a court for the first time acquitted a follower of the religious doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who was accused of extremism. The charge was dropped against Dmitry Barmakin. Judge Stanislav Salnikov recognized his right to rehabilitation, informs Jehovah’s Witnesses website.
The verdict says that Barmakin “must be acquitted due to the absence of corpus delicti in the defendant’s act,” since the believers were “exercised the right to freedom of religion enshrined in the Russian Constitution.” The document also states that “attending joint services, providing premises for them, reading and discussing religious literature, disseminating religious beliefs, observing religious rites and ceremonies, performing spiritual songs, offering prayers are forms of lawful behavior that are part of freedom conscience and freedom of religion ”.
The court’s decision echoes the recent ruling of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, in which it saysthat it is not a violation of Jehovah’s Witnesses for worshiping and participating in them.
The court in Vladivostok also noted that “the ideology of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion is not recognized as extremist in Russia,” and “The Bible … [ее] content and quotations cannot be recognized as extremist materials. “
Dmitry Barmakin and his wife Elena moved from Crimea to Vladivostok to take care of their mother-in-law. On the morning of July 28, 2018, armed security forces burst into the house of Elena’s 90-year-old mother, who was with the Barmakins. They detained Dmitry and sent him to a pre-trial detention center. Barmakin spent 15 months there. Then he was released, banned from changing his place of residence, contacting a number of people, receiving mail and using communications.
Jehovah’s Witness was charged with Part 1 of Art. 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization of the activities of a public or religious association recognized as extremist). Barmakin faced a sentence of imprisonment for up to 10 years.
The key witness for the prosecution was Yekaterina Petrova, 30, a teacher at the Primorsky College of Energy in Vladivostok. To portray an interest in the Bible, she met with believers and asked them questions about religion. Later it turned out that she was keeping a hidden audio recording on the instructions of the special services.
In August 2019, a criminal case was opened against Dmitry’s wife, as well as nine other believers.
According to Memorial, 35 members of Jehovah’s Witnesses have already been sentenced to real terms in Russia, 83 to suspended sentences, 69 more are awaiting sentencing in custody or house arrest.