RUSSIA: Pentecostal Freed, but Awaits New Trial

by Tatyana Titova, Keston News Service, 27 April 2001

Aleksandr Volkov, a Pentecostal from the Volga republic of Chuvashia who was sentenced last month to six months' imprisonment for refusing to perform military service, has been released. On 17 April the Supreme Court of the Republic of Chuvashia set aside his conviction. The court did not find him not guilty, however, and simply referred the case back to the Novocheboksarsk city court to be reexamined by a different panel of judges. Volkov's lawyer Sergei Chugunov told Keston News Service that he is sure this time the court will find his client not guilty.

On 12 March 20-year-old Volkov was convicted of evading conscription to military service and detained in the court-room. The court considered that his Christian convictions were `unproven' (see KNS 19 April 2001). Chugunov, a lawyer of the Moscow-based Slavic Centre for Law and Justice, told Keston on 27 April that the Supreme Court did not want to pass a not-guilty verdict in order not to set a precedent for other conscientious objectors.

Chugunov was unable to give even an approximate date for the new court hearing, but commented that in any case Volkov was already free and so the timescale was not now so important for him. (END)