Jehovah's Witnesses penalized for possession of forbidden literature


The reason was extremist literature discovered during a worship service

RIA Voronezh, 21 December 2016


The Lenin district court of Voronezh found the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses guilty of distribution of extremist materials. As was reported to a journalist of RIA Voronezh on Tuesday, 20 December, the court decided as the penalty for an administrative violation of law to suspend the activity of the legal entity for 45 days. In addition, the court ruled that the extremist materials be confiscated from the Jehovah's Witnesses.


Administrative material regarding the distribution of extremist literature (article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the RF) was sent to the court by Voronezh police. Law enforcement personnel found books during a worship service in the Energiia sports complex on 9 October 2016. On a Sunday about 700 persons came for the service, many of whom were inspected by security forces.


According to eyewitnesses, police officers searched the rows in the hall and the stage and examined the purses and pockets of the attendees. As a result the operatives found a package with "suspicious" books. An expert analysis confirmed that the books are on the list of extremist materials. The police sent the administrative material to the court.


The trial stretched out into eight sessions. Representatives of the religious organization tried to prove that they did not distribute the extremist literature. However the court ruled that the legal entity was guilty of violating the law. The ruling has not taken legal effect and may be appealed within 10 days.




The Federal List of Extremist Materials includes approximately 30 magazines, books, and brochures of the Jehovah's Witnesses. In July 2016 the Frunze district court of Ivanovo added to the list an on-line library with literature of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Russian courts have ruled affiliated organizations in Elista, Belgorod, Stary Oskol, Taganrog, Samara, Abinsk, and Orel to be extremist and have liquidated them.


In December 2015 an active participant of the Voronezh cell of Jehovah's Witnesses received an administrative arrest for possession of extremist literature. The young man kept books and magazines in his garage "for the purpose of distribution," security forces specified. During a search, personnel of the Center for Combating Extremism of the regional chief directorate of the MVD seized 66 books and brochures. They contained statements intended to incite hatred toward a group of persons "on the basis of religious, national, and social qualities." (tr. by PDS, posted 21 December 2016)


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