05 June 2020, 10:00
Crimea court increases sentence earlier handed to a Jehovah's Witness, replacing fine with six years in jail
Simferopol, June 5, Interfax - The Supreme Court of Crimea on Thursday increased the sentence of Yalta resident Artyom Gerasimov, earlier convicted in the Jehovah's Witnesses (organization banned in Russia) case, replacing a 400,000-ruble fine with six years in jail for him, an informed source told Interfax.
"The Yalta man was taken into custody from the courtroom. His defense team is planning to file a cassation appeal," the source said.
The Crimean Supreme Court database contains information about a court hearing in the Gerasimov case scheduled for Thursday, providing, however, no results of the hearing.
As reported earlier, the criminal case against Gerasimov was opened in March 2019.
The Crimea resident was charged with organizing an extremist organization's activity: setting up a Jehovah's Witnesses cell in Yalta.
According to an informed source of Interfax, the prosecution sought 6.5 years in a penal colony for Gerasimov during pleadings in court this winter.
Gerasimov said he was persecuted for his faith. "I believe faith is very natural for a human being. I am not going to betray my faith or give up on faith. I will live on in accordance with my faith," Gerasimov told reporters after his closing statement in the Yalta court.
Crimea's Yalta City Court convicted Gerasimov, fining him 400,000 rubles, in March 2020. The sentence was later appealed.
Crimea's Dzhankoi District Court sentenced Dzhankoi resident Sergey Filatov on the same day to six years in a penal colony, finding him guilty of creating a Jehovah's Witnesses cell called Sivash in the north of the peninsula. Filatov and his attorneys appealed the sentence. The Supreme Court of Crimea upheld the first instance court judgment.
The Russian Supreme Court in April 2017 granted the Russian Justice Ministry's lawsuit to recognize Russian Jehovah's Witnesses as an extremist organization, banning it in the country.