Russian court schedules trial of Jehovah's Witnesses case


Interfax-Religiia, 17 March 2017


The Supreme Court of the RF will consider in early April the lawsuit of the Russian Ministry of Justice about finding Russian Jehovah's Witnesses to be an extremist organization and prohibiting their activity on the territory of Russia, the court's press service told Interfax on Friday.


"Consideration of the administrative lawsuit of the Russian Ministry of Justice for finding the religious organization of the 'Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia' to be extremist and for banning its activity and liquidation is scheduled for 5 April," the press service said.


The session should begin at 10:00 a.m.


Meanwhile, the Jehovists themselves declare that "if the suit were to be granted, this would entail catastrophic consequences for freedom of religious confession in Russia."


Earlier the press service of the Russian Ministry of Justice told Interfax that the suit was filed after violations of anti-extremism legislation were revealed during an inspection.


"In the period from 8 to 27 February 2017, the Russian Ministry of Justice conducted an unscheduled documentary inspection of the compliance of the activity of the religious organization the 'Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia' with the goals and tasks stated in its charter," the press service said in a communication provided on Friday at Interfax' request.


According the information of the Ministry of Justice, "the activity of the organization was conducted in violation of charter goals and tasks and also of current legislation of the RF, including the federal law 'On combating extremist activity.'"


The organization of Jehovah's Witnesses has regularly been the object of attention of oversight agencies in all regions of Russia and, besides, its activity is prohibited in a number of regions.


Earlier the Russian Supreme Court ruled to be legal decisions about 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 17 March 2017)

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