SARANSK JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES ORGANIZATION FINED 100,000 RUBLES FOR POSSESSION OF EXTREMIST MATERIALS
Website of Lenin District Court, Saransk, 30 June 2016
The Lenin district court of the city of Saransk, by a decision of 24 June 2016, found the local Saransk religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses guilty of committing an administrative violation of law provided for by article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the Russian federation (possession for purposes of mass distribution of extremist materials included in the published Federal List of Extremist Materials) and ordered an administrative penalty in the form of a fine in the sum of 100,000 rubles, with confiscation of the extremist materials.
According to the court's ruling, on 31 March 2016 at 20.30, in the course of conducting operational search activities in the premises of the local Saransk religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, located on Titov Street of Saransk, literature stored there was discovered and seized: "How to develop close relations with God," "For what can people hope?" and "Good news about God," which by decision of the Lenin district court of the city of Vladimir of 23 October 2013 and by the appellate decision of the judicial college for civil cases of the Kurgan provincial court of 5 August 2014 was ruled to be prohibited for use and included by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian federation in the Federal List of Extremist Materials.
Access to the premises of the aforesaid organization and to literature stored there, including materials included in the published Federal List of Extremist Materials, was not restricted, which permitted every visitor to the premises to become familiar with forbidden literature.
In accordance with this incident, on 6 June 2016 an official of Department No. 3 of the Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for the city of Saransk drew up a report concerning the administrative violation of law, in accordance with article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the Russian federation, against the religious organization.
During consideration of the case of an administrative violation of law, the chairman of the Saransk local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, A.S. Kolesnikov, did not admit the guilt of the organization he heads of committing an administrative violation of law, appealing to the fact that the seized literature had been planted in the premises by citizens who do not profess the Jehovah's Witnesses' religion, who on that day arrived for the worship service.
After examining the materials that were presented, hearing the parties, and questioning witnesses, the court came to the conclusion regarding the guilt of the religious organization in the commission of an administrative violation of law.
While assessing an administrative penalty, the court took into account the nature and consequences of the administrative violation of law that was committed and the degree of guilt of the legal entity that was called to administrative accountability and it assessed an administrative fine of the minimum amount, having concluded that a fine in the sum of 100,000 rubles would be able to assure the achievement of the purpose of the administrative penalty.
The ruling has not taken legal effect. (tr. by PDS, posted 4 July 2016)
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