On Jehovah's Witnesses: details are different; outcome is the same


SOVA Center for News and Analysis, 3 March 2017


In March it was learned that on 10 February 2017, a city court in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka held the local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses accountable on the basis of article 20.29 (possession of extremist materials for purposes of mass distribution) and fined it 200,000 rubles. Believers have filed an appeal in territorial court.


The basis for the punishment was the fact that on 13 November 2016 law enforcement agencies discovered during a search of the worship premises of the Jehovah's Witnesses three compact disks with the forbidden book "What does the Bible really teach?", and previously a person attending a meeting had turned the same disk over to police. Believers maintained that the disks had been planted; however the court did not find objective confirmation of this argument.


In 2016, an administrative case was also opened against the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. The city court returned it to the prosecutor for removal of errors. The prosecutor successfully appealed this decision in territorial court, but by the time of the second consideration the statute of limitations had expired for bringing the congregation to administrative account and therefore it was not punished.


We consider that bans of Jehovah's Witnesses' literature as extremist and prosecutions of believers for its distribution are illegal. We regard such actions of the authorities to be religious discrimination. (tr. by PDS, posted 5 March 2017)

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