JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES RESPOND TO ARTICLES ABOUT PICKETING AGAINST THEIR ORGANIZATION IN CHITA
Zabaikalskoe Informatsionnoe Agentstvo, 6 April 2016
The Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses, located in St. Petersburg, sent to the editorial office of the ZabInfo news agency a letter with comments regarding two articles published on 2 April about the conduct in Chita of a picket by Orthodox activists against their organizations.
"Inasmuch as information contained in the articles directly affects the interests of our fellow believers, we consider it necessary to bring to your attention that Jehovah's Witnesses are a well known Christian religion whose activity is officially permitted in more than 200 countries and territories. In Russia, the Jehovah's Witnesses are officially registered at the federal level, which permits more than 175 thousand Russians to conduct their religious activity on legal bases," the statement of the press service of the center says.
It is noted there also that in Russia Jehovah's Witnesses have been active for more than 100 years now. In the USSR, adherents of this teaching, along with believers of other confessions, were subjected to repressions and persecutions, but in 1991 they were officially recognized and believers who had been subjected to persecution were completely rehabilitated as victims of political repressions.
The report introduces the results of a state religious studies examination conducted by the Russian Ministry of Justice, according to which "there are no grounds for maintaining that the doctrine of the Jehovah's Witnesses represents a threat to the psychological health and morality of members and adherents of this organization." Also presented was the opinion of a religious studies expert, doctor of philosophy and state councilor Sergei Ivaninko, according to whom "the absolute majority of Jehovah's Witnesses are law-abiding and they strive to live in accordance with moral standards laid out in the Bible, they reject violence, they pay their taxes conscientiously, they value peace in the family, society, and state, and they recognize the right of other people to have their own convictions."
"As regards accusations of extremism made against them, the Russian federation is the only country in the world in which some publications of Jehovah's Witnesses, and also our official website, have been deemed to be 'extremist.' At the present time, more than 80 published materials have been entered into the Federal List of Extremist Materials [FLEM]. Although Jehovah's Witnesses consider this a mistake and they have tried in courts to get the removal of their books and brochures from FLEM, we do not import, nor distribute, nor possess these publications. We consider these decisions to be illegal and we have challenged them at the highest Russian and foreign judicial instances. At the present time, we have already achieved the removal of several of our brochures from the list," the report notes. (tr. by PDS, posted 18 April 2016)
AROUND 10 ORTHODOX ACTIVISTS BEGIN COLLECTION OF SIGNATURES AGAINST JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES IN CHITA
Zabaikalskoe Informatsionnoe Agentstvo, 2 April 2016
Around 10 Orthodox activists began on 2 April a picket at the building belonging to the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in Chita. This was reported by a correspondent of the news agency ZabInfo.
"Activists unfurled banners with inscriptions: 'Chita—a territory without sects,' 'Jehovah's Witnesses are a threat to the norms of civil society,' 'Attention! Jehovah's Witnesses are a sect.' Two policemen took care to assure order at the event. It is said that the Jehovah's Witnesses conducted a service and several of them photographed the picket. An Orthodox priest attended the Jehovists' service," the correspondent reports.
He said that the activists also began a collection of signatures for banning the organization in Chita and they also distributed leaflets with a enumeration of the rules that the Jehovists observe: prohibition on blood transfusion, on defense of the fatherland, and on celebration of state holidays, and the obligation to witness daily among citizens. It was also noted there that the Supreme Court of the Russian federation has ruled that several books and the website of Jehovah's Witnesses are extremist.
We recall that several activists said that the reason for the start of demonstrations was complaints from residents of the city who received invitations to attend meetings of the Jehovists. Earlier, the evangelism department of the Chita diocese, along with volunteers of the movement "Good Works," conducted a "Stop the sect" demonstration against Jehovah's Witnesses. The demonstration was repeated on 23 March. (tr. by PDS, posted 18 April 2016)
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