For Immediate Release
April 1, 2011
No evidence of criminal activity—Russian prosecutor calls for further investigation
TAMBOV, Russia—A criminal investigation has been conducted for more than a year against Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Tambov. During this time, investigators charged Pavel Stegachyov with violating Article 282(1) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation on January 17, 2011. Although a local prosecutor recently decided not to uphold the investigator’s charges that accused Stegachyov of inciting religious hatred and enmity, the prosecutor returned the case for further investigation.
On March 17, 2010, three investigation teams arrived simultaneously at the homes of several Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tambov and carried out searches. Despite producing prodigious amounts of case materials, investigators were unable to substantiate their claims of criminal activity on the part of Stegachyov or any of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tambov. Vasily Kalin, Chairman of the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, stated concerning these events, “We feel that Russia is needlessly investing valuable law-enforcement resources in an attempt to find these innocent Christians guilty.”
While appealing the criminal investigation, the Administrative Center was informed by a letter dated February 9, 2011, from the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation that it had informed the Investigative Directorate for the Tambov Region to take into consideration the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses of Moscow v. Russia when reviewing the Center’s appeal arguments. That judgment declared the liquidation and ban on the activities of the Moscow Community of Jehovah’s Witnesses to be unlawful.
In Russia: Grigory Martynov, telephone +7 812 702 2691
In Belgium: European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses, telephone +32 2 782 0015
In USA: Mario Moreno, telephone +1 845 306 0711