National Jehovah's Witnesses center rebuffed in court



On 16 January, a Moscow city court left without satisfaction the appeal of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia in which believers challenge the warning issued to their Administrative Center.


A representative of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, Yaroslav Sivulsky, commenting on the disputed warning, said: "Extremism among Jehovah's Witnesses is a deception, repeated a hundred times, but not thereby becoming truth. For more than 60 years now the Russian authorities have known well that we are as far from extremism as heaven from earth. Our believers have been imprisoned and even gone to the firing squad simply for not taking up arms against people for the sake of whatever ideals. We do not have anything to do with extremism."


The prosecutorial warning was the consequence of the unjustified inclusion of a number of theological publications of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Federal List of Extremist Materials of the Russian federation. In combating Jehovah's Witnesses, law enforcement agencies of the RF have actively used falsified evidence (planted materials from the Federal List of Extremist Materials, false testimony) in order to fine believers and to file lawsuits for the liquidation of local religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses.


The United Nations Committee on Human Rights has frequently expressed concern that in Russia the law on extremism "is aimed particularly against Jehovah's Witnesses." The committee recommended to the Russian government "to revise without unjustified delay the federal law 'On combating extremist activity' in order . . . to establish clear and specific criteria by which one or another item may be qualified as extremist. It is necessary to adopt all necessary measures for preventing the arbitrary enforcement of this law and to revise the Federal List of Extremist Materials."


The Jehovah's Witnesses intend to use all means of judicial defense in order to prove the absurdity of the accusations. They hope that justice will triumph, the press service of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia reported. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 January 2017)



In administrative lawsuit plaintiff maintained that extremist literature was planted on the religious organization by prosecutor's office

TASS, 16 January 2017


A Moscow city court ruled as legal the warning for extremist activity with respect to the centralized religious organization of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses. This was reported by a TASS correspondent from the courtroom.


"To leave without change the decision of the Tver court to deny the appellant complaint of the representatives of the civil plaintiff," says the determination of the judicial appeals panel of the Moscow city court.


In the civil suit the plaintiff maintained that extremist literature was planted on the religious organization by the prosecutor's office. "At the same time, the religious organization has been engaged in sending letters within its structure aimed at eliminating extremism and extremist activity," the judge of the appellate panel read out the text of the appeal.


Position of the sides:


In the course of today's judicial session, the plaintiff insisted that the decision of the court of the first instance should be changed. "The court mistakenly issued a decision, and the Administrative Center of the organization never engaged in any activities of an extremist nature," the attorney for the plaintiff noted. "Accusations of extremist activity are based on falsified evidence, plants of literature, and false fabricated testimony," he added.


In his turn the respondent, in the person of the prosecutor general's office, insisted that the decision of the court of the first instance was legal and justified. "Arguments presented earlier in the appeal have already been confirmed by the Tver district court of Moscow," the prosecutor emphasized.


On 12 October 2016 the Tver court issued a warning to the Administrative Center of the organization regarding extremist activity. According to Russian law, if a warning were not to be appealed in court or not ruled by a court to be illegal, and also if within the period of time set by the warning to the religious association acts of violation that were the reason for issuing the warning were not eliminated, or if in the course of 12 months from the day of the issuing of the warning new instances emerged evidencing the existence of indicator of extremism in their activity, said organization is liable to liquidation.


The Jehovah's Witnesses are an international religious organization that holds to unorthodox trends in Christianity and is distinguished by a peculiar interpretation of many religious concepts. It has included 21 local organizations, three of whom were earlier liquidated for extremism.


After the announcement of the decision, the organization declared its appeal. "We will challenge this decision by the review of the Supreme Court and we do not rule out further appeals to the European Court of Human Rights," the press secretary of the organization, Yaroslav Sivulsky, told TASS. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 January 2017)

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