INTERVIEW: LAWYER FOR ADMINISTRATIVE CENTER OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES IN RUSSIA IN SUPREME COURT, VIKTOR ZHENKOV
Portal-Credo.Ru, 7 April 2017
--Portal-Credo.Ru: What petitions did you submit in the trial in the Supreme Court and which of them were rejected?
--Viktor Zhenkov: We submitted about 20 petitions—about including 395 local religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in the capacity of co-defendants, because the Ministry of Justice is demanding their liquidation. We consider that it is impossible to liquidate in open judicial proceedings a legal entity in absentia, without its participation. In addition, the Ministry of Justice demands transferring to government income property that is enumerated in the lawsuit, and among this property there are assets that belong to foreign legal entities. Therefore we submitted a petition for including foreign organizations in the capacity of interested parties.
In addition, we submitted a petition for including in the capacity of interested parties individual persons—7 persons who themselves indicated a desire to participate in the trial on the basis of the fact that they are victims of political repressions: in their time, during soviet years, they were exiled as children along with their parents to Siberia for permanent settlement, merely because their parents were Jehovah's Witnesses. As a result the government rehabilitated their parents and themselves, acknowledging them as victims of political repressions, but now, in essence, they are threatened with the same repressions in the event that the organization is liquidated as "extremist." And also we submitted a petition to involve in participation in the case specialists in religious studies and linguistics. All of the petitions enumerated above were rejected.
In addition, our organization filed a counter suit in which the organization asked for recognition of it as a victim of political repressions because of the filing in court of the lawsuit of the Ministry of Justice. The counter suit also was rejected.
--And which of your petitions still were granted?
--A petition to question four witnesses was granted, residents of Moscow and Jehovah's Witnesses believers who can explain their life situation with respect to extremism.
--What are your prospects relative to the future course of these proceedings?
--Our next session will be held on Wednesday, the 12th. On the basis of the volume of materials that must be examined, the trial will continue another several days, at a minimum.
Interview conducted by Vladimir Oivin
(tr. by PDS, posted 9 April 2017)
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