Jehovah's Witnesses' headquarters comments on prohibition case


Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses, 16 March 2017


Information appeared on the website of the Supreme Court of the RF to the effect that the Russian Ministry of Justice has filed a lawsuit to find the "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" to be an extremist organization and to liquidate and prohibit its activity. However, the religious organization has not received the pertinent documents. Millions of believers throughout the world consider that the actions of the ministry are a big mistake. If the lawsuit were to be granted, this would entail catastrophic consequences for freedom of religious confession in Russia and it would 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, uniting 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.


Prohibition of the activity of the center of Jehovah's Witnesses may lead to criminal prosecution of believers simply for confessing their religion—joint reading of the Bible, singing, and prayers. This was shown evidently in the sensational criminal case of 16 believers, men, women, and minors, who were sentenced to large fines and more than 5 years of suspended prison terms after the local religious organization of Taganrog Jehovah's Witnesses was found to be extremist and liquidated.


"Our accusers got carried away by a game of building a tower that was doomed to collapse," says Yaroslav Sivulsky, from the Governing Body of the religious organization. "We do not know when this will happen. For alleged incitement to sedition the first Christians were persecuted and Christ himself was executed, and God did not like this. Modern harassment for faith in Russia also is not a matter pleasing to God by any means."


Vasily Kalin, the chairman of the Governing Body of the organization, said: "Each of us, Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, just sincerely wants to worship our God peacefully. Unfortunately, for more than 100 years now, the rulers in Russia have trampled on their own legislation, which guarantees us this right. In stalinist times, when I was still a child, our whole family was exiled to Siberia simply because we were Jehovah's Witnesses. It is offensive and sad that my children and grandchildren will have to deal with something similar." (tr. by PDS, posted 17 March 2017)

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