Russian Supreme Court to hear case against national headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses


Interfax-Religiia, 16 March 2017


The Ministry of Justice of the Russian federation has asked the Supreme Court to find the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses to be an extremist organization and to prohibit its activity in Russia, the press service of the court told Interfax on Thursday.


"The court received an administrative lawsuit of the Russian Ministry of Justice to find the religious organization "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" to be extremist and to liquidate and ban its activity on the territory of the RF," the press service noted.


A date for consideration of the lawsuit has still not been set.


In its turn, the organization declares that it still has not received from the court any documents, but it considers that "if the suit were to be granted, this would entail catastrophic consequences for freedom of religious confession in Russia."


In a report on the website "Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" it is noted that the decision of the Supreme Court "will directly affect about 400 registered local religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and also bear upon all 2,277 religious groups throughout the country, which unite 175,000 adherents of this religion."


"Extremism is profoundly alien to the convictions of Jehovah's Witnesses, which are based on the Bible. Prosecution of peaceful believers on the basis of anti-extremism legislation is based on outright falsifications, the unprofessionalism of individual 'experts,' and on judicial mistakes, as a result," the organization thinks.


Jehovah's Witnesses have regularly been the object of attention of oversight agencies in all regions of Russia. Previously the Russian Supreme Court has found to be legal decisions on the liquidation of territorial divisions of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Orel, Stary Oskol and Belgorod, Abinsk of Krasnodar territory, Samara, Birobidzhan, and other cities.


Local divisions of the organization have frequently been held administratively accountable for distribution of extremist materials, in Tiumen, Abinsk, Samara, Saransk, Voronezh, Nizhny Novgorod, Gelendzhik, etc. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 March 2017)

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