Local news media explain prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses


Gorod na Bire, 19 February 2021


The Birobidzhan district court has considered several cases against members of the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, which has been ruled to be extremist.


As the court established, several residents of the oblast center have participated in the activity of the religious organization Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, of whose structure the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in Birobidzhan is a member, knowing that it has been banned. This was reported by the Birobidzhan district court of the E.A.O. [Jewish autonomous oblast].


On the basis of a decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, which took legal effect on 17 July 2017, the organization was ruled to be extremist and liquidated. However its legal liquidation did not lead to an actual cessation of activity on the territory of the city of Birobidzhan, and meetings and the study of religious literature continued to be conducted.


The activity of members of the organization was proven by evidence examined in judicial session, including results of operational search events and the conclusions of experts.


The activity of the convicts in each case that was considered were categorized on the basis of part 2 of article 282.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation as participating in the activity of a religious association with respect to which a court has made a decision that has taken legal effect concerning its liquidation, because of the conduct of extremist activity, with the exception of organizations that are considered to be terrorist in accordance with legislation of the Russian Federation.


Depending on the circumstances and the degree and role of participation in the activity of the organization, the court has imposed various forms of punishment, from suspended prison terms to fines of ten thousand rubles.


In determining punishment, consideration is given to the nature and degree of public danger of the crime being committed, the existence of mitigating circumstances, the absence of aggravating circumstances, character references, financial situation, and also the impact of the punishment imposed on the conditions of the life of the defendants' families.


The sentences have not taken legal effect. Several convicts have filed appeals against them. The cases have still not been considered at the appellate level. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 February 2021)

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