RUSSIAN SUPREME COURT FINDS LIQUIDATION OF BELGOROD JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES LEGAL
by Liudmila Klenko
RAPSI, 9 June 2016
The Supreme Court of the Russian federation ruled the local religious organization Jehovah's Witnesses of the city of Belgorod to be extremist and subject to liquidation, a RAPSI correspondent reports from the courtroom on Thursday.
Thus the Supreme Court determined to leave without change the decision of the Belgorod provincial court finding the local Jehovah's Witnesses religious organization extremist and ordering its liquidation.
In the opinion of representatives of the Jehovah's Witnesses, said organization in its more than twenty-year history managed to establish a well-deserved reputation and is prepared to take responsibility for its words.
In addition, the defense called the court's attention to the fact that liquidation of a legal entity is, in essence, the supreme measure of punishment, disproportionate to any goal.
The representative of the religious organization also noted that it was opposed in Belgorod by a youth organization, "Youth First Aid." Members of this organization allegedly wore tee-shirts with the inscription "I hate Jehovah's Witnesses" and could have had an interest in the liquidation of this organization.
The prosecutor's arguments came down to the point that all incidents and circumstances disputed by the defense regarding distribution of extremist materials were established and verified by the decision of the court of the first instance, and there is no basis for doubting its objectivity.
"The devotees of the organization themselves, on the basis of their religious ideas, are inclined to destroy the family, to refuse medical aid (in particular blood transfusion), and to attract minors into the religious organization, . . . which is the basis for the liquidation of the religious organization," the prosecutor's lawsuit says. However, the court of the first instance did not agree with these arguments.
Thus the prosecutor requested the court to refuse to grant the appeal of the defendant and to leave the decision of the Belgorod provincial court in force.
In February 2016 the Belgorod provincial court granted the prosecutor's office's petition to find the Jehovah's Witnesses of the city of Belgorod to be an extremist organization and to order its liquidation.
Jehovah's Witnesses are an international religious organization with headquarters in Brooklyn (New York). (tr. by PDS, posted 9 June 2016)
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