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Russian court declares a Jehovah’s Witness not guilty in new twist

Russian court has today declared Mr. Dmitriy Barmakin not guilty of government charges against him. This is the first ever the justice system failed to find a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses not wanting in the country.

A release said on November 22, 2021, the Pervorechenskiy District Court of Vladivostok in the Primorye Territory found Brother Dmitriy Barmakin not guilty and acquitted him of all criminal charges.

Brother Dmitriy Barmakin and his wife, Yelena

This is the first time a Russian court has issued a not-guilty verdict for one of Jehovah’s Witnesses charged under Article 282.2(1) of Russia’s Criminal Code (regarding organizing the activities of an extremist organization).

The court will remove the restrictions on his activities. The verdict will enter into force on December 3, 2021, if the prosecutor’s office does not file an appeal.

Time: how it happened

  1. April 20, 2021: The criminal case was resumed
  2. December 18, 2020: The criminal case was returned to the prosecutor for lack of sufficient evidence. The ban on his activities remained unchanged
  3. October 18, 2019: After 447 days, Dmitriy was released with strict limitations on his activities. The court had extended Dmitriy’s pretrial detention ten times
  4. July 28, 2018: At 7:00 a.m. on July 28, 2018, a group of armed and masked men broke into the apartment where Dmitriy and Yelena had been staying to care for Yelena’s 90-year-old grandmother. Dmitriy and Yelena were both taken back to their home city, Vladivostok, 177 kilometers (109 mi) away. Dmitriy was arrested and placed in pretrial detention immediately
  5. July 27, 2018; A criminal case was opened against Brother Dmitriy Barmakin
  6. October 2017 :A 30-year-old woman working for the Federal Security Service (FSB) pretended to show interest in the Bible. She secretly filmed her conversations with different brothers and sisters
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Who is Dmitriy Barmakin?

Born 1974 at Alushta, Crimea, his mother died when he was ten years old. He studied to become a chef and later a computer programmer. Married his wife, Yelena, in 2006. They enjoy traveling and photographing wildlife

Bought his first Bible when in the eighth grade. Impressed by the practical advice found in the Scriptures. Eventually, studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Baptized in 1994

He said “I had become accustomed to reading the Bible every day before I was held in the detention center. The fact of the matter is that in the detention center, because there is often nothing going on during the day, you have more time to think deeply. Your mind recalls and meditates on whatever you have put into it. It can’t just remain idle. And if it was not filled with spiritual things beforehand, then it will be very difficult to remain faithful.”

What quality helped you endure your detention?

Jehovah gave me the joy for which I often prayed, and it was visible to those around me. During a morning roll call, one of the guards asked: “Barmakin, why are you always smiling?” I answered him: “I’m happy, which is why I smile.” The guard asked me, “You are happy that you wound up in prison?” I replied: “No! I have always been a happy man, and prison cannot hinder my happiness.” What is most interesting is that I didn’t even notice that I was smiling. It just came naturally.

What are you determined to do, whatever the outcome of the criminal process?

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I understand that God is allowing this situation to occur for the glory of his name. Although enemies will try to scare Jehovah’s servants and to stop their preaching work, I can see how the opinions of the judges, bailiffs, and prosecutors are changing for the better. Therefore, I am determined to glorify Jehovah.

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