JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES FINED IN TULA
SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 2 March 2017
In March it was learned that on 6 February 2017, the Proletariat district court of Tula held accountable on article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law (possession of extremist materials for purposes of mass distribution) the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses and the chairman of its council, Gurama Labadze. The organization was fined 120,000 rubles and its head, 3,000 rubles. Both decisions were appealed to the Tula provincial court and consideration of the appeal was scheduled for 16 March.
The district court fined the congregation and its head because on 14 December 2016, during an inspection of the Kingdom Hall, law enforcement agencies discovered there forbidden publications "What does the Bible really teach?" and "A government that will bring Paradise." The Jehovah's Witnesses maintained that the brochures were planted in the premises and as proof they presented to the court a tape from a surveillance camera. However the court considered that neither the video nor the explanation of witnesses refuted the guilt of the religious organization and its leader for committing an administrative violation of law.
We consider that bans on the literature of Jehovah's Witnesses as extremist and prosecution of believers for its distribution are illegal. We regard such actions by authorities as religious discrimination. (tr. by PDS, posted 2 March 2017)
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