COURT REFUSES TO PUNISH HEAD OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES CONGREGATION IN PENZA PROVINCE
SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 17 October 2016
A court in Nikolsk decided that two forbidden leaflets in the jacket of an attendee at a worship service is not an occasion for punishing the head of the congregation.
On 12 October 2016, the Nikolsk district court of Penza province ceased proceedings for lack of evidence of an administrative violation of law in the case of the chairman of the committee of the Nikolsk local religious organization of Jehovah's Witness, Yuri Kim, for whom the attempt was made to hold him accountable on the basis of article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Violation of Law (mass distribution of extremist materials).
An administrative report was composed against Kim after police found forbidden leaflets "How to develop close relations with God" and "How to achieve happiness in life" in the inside pocket of a jacket hanging in a closet during a search in the assembly hall of forestry in Nikolsk, where Jehovah's Witnesses conduct their meetings. In the trial, the head of the congregation declared that, first, the Nikolsk local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, which consists of 12 persons, conducts a limited number of worship services and maintains their records, but the meeting that the police visited was conducted by an independent religious group for whom the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses provides a room free of charge. Second, Kim noted that the congregation does not permit the use of extremist materials in its activity and the person in whose jacket forbidden publications were found told him that he did not have them in his possession. From this Kim drew the conclusion that the literature had been planted.
After reviewing the materials of the case and hearing witnesses, the court decided that the fact of the discovery of forbidden leaflets in the jacket of a visitor to the assembly hall is not proof that Kim, as the responsible person, made mass distribution of extremist materials. In addition, the court considered the very fact of mass distribution of these materials by someone else and mass reading of them had not been proven.
We welcome the decision of the Nikolsk court. Unfortunately, most often in the consideration of similar cases, courts consider the very fact of the discovery of forbidden books sufficient for assigning punishment. Meanwhile, Jehovah's Witnesses regularly report that representatives of law enforcement agencies plant literature that has been ruled to be extremist on them.
We recall also that in general we consider the ban of Jehovah's Witnesses' literature and prosecution of believers for its distribution to be illegal. From our point of view, such actions by the authorities should be regarded as religious discrimination. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 October 2016)
Editorial disclaimer: RRN does
not intend to certify the accuracy of information
presented in articles. RRN simply intends to certify the
accuracy of the English translation of the contents of the
articles as they appeared in news media of countries of
the former USSR.
If material is quoted, please give credit to the publication from which it came. It is not necessary to credit this Web page. If material is transmitted electronically, please include reference to the URL, http://www.stetson.edu/~psteeves/relnews/.