St. Petersburg authorities try to halt Jehovah's Witnesses' internet activity


by Mikhail Telekhov

RAPSI, 27 October 2020


A court will consider on 14 December a lawsuit of the prosecutor's office of St. Petersburg against Roskomnadzor to find to be extremist a mobile phone application, "JW Library," which was created by the Jehovah's Witnesses and distributed through the application stores Google Play and App Store, RAPSI was told at the Joint Press Service of courts of St. Petersburg.


An administrative suit to find information that is being disseminated through the application "JW Library" to be extremist and banned from distribution within Russia will be considered by the October district court of St. Petersburg.


As shown in the text of the complaint, the copyright to the application belongs to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, which is the higher-placed governing body of the religious organization of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia; its activity and that of the local religious organizations that were elements of its structure were ruled to be extremist.


"The website of the developer of this application, to wit, the official website of Jehovah's Witnesses, according to the determination of the Russian Supreme Court, contained informational material whose printed editions have been ruled to be extremist. Access to them has been blocked. The plaintiff points out that now mass distribution of extremist religious materials is being continued on the territory of the R.F. through the "JW Library." The first session on the merits will be held on 14 December," the Joint Press Service explained. (tr. by PDS, posted 27 October 2020)




Fontanka, 27 October 2020


The St. Petersburg prosecutor's office is taking aim at one of the most popular religious applications in App Store and Google Play, the "JW Library."  It was created by the Jehovah's Witnesses, who are forbidden in Russia. The idea to liquidate the application was revealed on 27 October by the Joint Press Service of the courts of St. Petersburg.


"The administrative lawsuit to find the JW Library to be extremist and banned in Russia was accepted for proceeding by the October district court," the press service explains.


The lawsuit shows that among the enormous mass of information in the JW Library, the St. Petersburg prosecutor's office found only 21 informational items that Russian courts have ruled to be extremist. But it requests the removal of the whole application from the App Store and Google Play stores.


The office is operating by analogy. In 2014, the Supreme Court found the whole website of Jehovah's Witnesses, "," to be extremist. In its opinion, the placement of other information that does not contradict the law does not prevent "killing" the entire internet resource. The mass distribution of extremist religious materials is continuing in Russia through the JW Library, the prosecutor's office believes. Apple and Google are authorized to restrict access to the application in a specific geographic location in the world.


The copyright to the application belongs to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. The developer of the JW Library is the Jehovah's Witnesses.


"The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania" is the world center of Jehovah's Witnesses. This international religious organization encompases more than 8.5 million preachers throughout the world.


Formally, the Watch Tower Society is not forbidden in Russia. In 2017, the Supreme Court found the organization "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" and its local cells to be extremist. The Watch Tower Society is an international superstructure.


The JW Library is the official application of the Jehovah's Witnesses. It contains various translations of the Bible and books and brochures for studying it. The application came out in July 2013. On Google Play, more than 10 million users have accessed it. In the App Store, it occupies 26th place in the category of "Reference." In both stores, the application is rated by millions of users at 4.8.


The hearing on the lawsuit will be held on 14 December. The Apple and Google corporations will be involved as third persons through their Russian representations: "EPPLRus" and "Gugl." (tr. by PDS, posted 27 October 2020)

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