NINA BELYAEVA, Baptist (Voronezh, Russia)

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Nina Belyaeva

The believer and councillor of the Semiluki District Council of the Voronezh Region condemned the Russian aggression against Ukraine on her social media. On 22 March, an argument broke out at a meeting of the district council: the councillors started discussing Belyaeva’s position; she published this debate on her Telegram channel. In her speech, she noted that “the killing of people on the territory of another state that has no aim of defending one’s own country has nothing to do with the Christian faith… What is happening today cannot be compared with following Christ. A Christian is not one who wears a cross on their neck. A Christian is one who follows Christ. For whom the Word of God, the authority of Christ is much higher than the authority of the President than the opinion of the Patriarch”. In an interview with the Moscow Times on 8 April, she said that she could not stay silent, otherwise she would not be able to «feel like a Christian and human being». Due to persecution, Belyaeva left Russia in April and currently lives in Latvia.

According to the Norwegian human rights organization Forum 18, on 29 April the Investigative Committee of the Voronezh Oblast declared Belyaeva a suspect under the newly introduced article 207.3 (public dissemination of knowingly false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) of the Criminal Code; she was charged on 23 June and put on the wanted list. The investigation of the criminal case continued in cooperation with the Voronezh FSB. On 22 June, a ‘red notice’ was filed to Interpol to search for Belyaeva; on 24 June, the Leninsky district court issued a warrant for the arrest of the believer for a period of two months. On 27 June, the Investigative Committee of the Voronezh Oblast announced on its website that Belyaeva had also been charged twice with committing a crime under part 2 of article 205.2 (public calls for terrorist activities, public justification of terrorism or propaganda of terrorism) of the Criminal Code committed “with using the mass media or electronic or information and telecommunication networks, including the internet” because of her interview with an unnamed foreign blogger. 20 out of 23 councillors of the Semiluki District council voted for withdrawing Belyaeva’s councillor immunity. Since 3 August, the councillor has been on the list of terrorists and extremists of Rosfinmonitoring.

Nina Belyaeva also joined the appeal of other municipal councillors demanding Putin’s resignation.