ADMINISTRATIVE CENTER OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES IN RUSSIA CHALLENGES SUPREME COURT DECISION
SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 22May 2017
An appeal has been filed against the liquidation of the chief organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and its structural subdivisions.
On 22 May 2017, the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia reported that it had filed an appeal against the decision of the Russian Supreme Court, which on 20 April 2017 granted the lawsuit of the Ministry of Justice for finding the Administrative Center to be an extremist organization. According to the court's decision, both the Administrative Center and 395 local religious organizations as its structural subdivisions are subject to immediate liquidation and their property will be converted to state income. We recall, attorneys of the Administration Center have previously declared that the Jehovah's Witnesses will challenge the Supreme Court's decision and they are prepared to go to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The lengthy appeal filed by attorneys of the Administrative Center specifically says that the Supreme Court's decision "is based on the presumption of the guilt of the Jehovah's Witnesses in committing extremist activity, and not on a comprehensive, complete, objective, and direct analysis of the existing evidence in the administrative case," and that this decision "liquidates independent legal entities that had been registered by competent federal agencies of state power in the form of religious organizations, in whose activity there are no incidents of extremism both as a whole and also such as whose presence would justify the possibility of their liquidation," and in addition that the decision violates the "rights and legal interests of the administrative plaintiff and also of the individual and juridical entities of the Christian confession of Jehovah's Witnesses that were not summoned for participation in the case," and "does not comport with the constitution of the RF and generally recognized principles and standards of international law and international agreements of the Russian federation."
From our point of view, the liquidation of organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses for extremism (individual organizations have been banned even earlier in Russia; thus, in 2016 alone five local congregation in various cities were banned), and the prosecution of members of their congregations and bans of their texts do not have legal foundations and are a clear manifestation of religious discrimination. In Russia the number of Jehovah's Witnesses exceeds 100,000. The ban of the chief organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and its structural subdivisions places each of them under threat of criminal prosecution for their faith. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 May 2017)
JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES FILE APPEAL AGAINST SUPREME COURT DECISION
Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 22 May 2017
Within the specified 30-day term, an appeal was filed against the decision of the Russian Supreme Court of 20 April 2017 for the liquidation of all registered organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. The full text of the appeal is published below.[The lengthy text is not translated here—RRN ed.]
Submission of the appeal means that although the decision stopped the activity of registered organization, it had not taken legal effect and it is subject to review at the appellate instance, a panel consisting of three judges of the Supreme Court. The date for the hearing on the appeal has not yet been set. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 May 2017)
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