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After a retrial of the case, the court in Knyaze-Volkonskoye sentences one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Valeriy Rabota, to six years in prison for talking about the Bible – News

After a year and three months of legal proceedings, Valeriy Rabota, 62, received a suspended sentence. On June 10, 2024, Khabarovsk District Court judge Maria Luzhbina equated participation in peaceful religious services with extremism.

The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against the believer in the spring of 2022. During this time, he spent two days in temporary detention, 116 days in a detention center and 100 days under house arrest. During the months spent in prison, Valeriy’s chronic illnesses worsened. Later, while under house arrest, he suffered a stroke. The case went to court in March 2023. Eight months later, in the final stages of the trial, Judge Angelina Sviderskaya recused herself and negotiations began anew.

Valeriy Rabota was accused of participating in the activities of an extremist organization and involving others in it. However, the linguistic investigation suggests that the believer was not encouraging extremist actions, but merely “reading and studying the material discussed”. This idea was emphasized by the lawyer: “My client is being tried only for the ways in which his faith is expressed… Actions related to participation in religious services with fellow believers and propagation of one’s faith are based not only on the Constitution of the Russian Federation, but also on the Bible, the source of moral standards and natural laws.”

FSB officer Stanislav Martyn, who pretended to be interested in the Bible in order to gather information about believers, denied under interrogation that Rabota had persuaded him to join the activities of any organization. The prosecution’s witnesses spoke favorably of Valeriy. One of those interrogated, an FSB officer connected to the case of the believer, stated that he “did not witness any crime on the part of Valeriy”. Some of those interrogated spoke of falsifications in their written testimonies and pressure from the investigation. The defense pointed out violations of the law by experts, for example, the researcher of religion MB Serdyuk assessed the actions of the believer from the legal side and went beyond the limits of her authority.

In the Khabarovsk Territory, the authorities opened 19 criminal cases against 41 of Jehovah’s Witnesses. One of the believers died during investigation and courts have already sentenced 20 people.

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