Jehovah's Witnesses counter sue Ministry of Justice


Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 2 April 2017


An unprecedented lawsuit was filed on 30 March 2017 in the Supreme Court of Russia: to rule the actions of the Ministry of Justice against the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses to be political repressions. Comprehensive and reasonable, the aforesaid lawsuit is a counterclaim with respect to the lawsuit of the Ministry of Justice of 15 March 2017, in which the ministry asks for banning and recognizing as extremist the "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia," and also 395 local organizations of this religion on the territory of Russia.


The actions of the Ministry of Justice possess the indicators of political repressions, from the point of view of Russian and international law. They violate articles 18, 9, and 6 of the Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Liberties. In Russia, the concept of repressions is defined by the law "On rehabilitation of victims of political repressions." Repressions include politically motivated action of organs of government for restriction of the rights and liberties of citizens who are considered to be dangerous for the state, including on the basis of religious identity.


The lawsuit of the Ministry of Justice is aimed at associations of citizens selected exclusively on the basis of their confessing the faith of the Jehovah's Witnesses.


Analysis of the actions of the Ministry of Justice with respect to Jehovah's Witnesses gives evidence of arbitrariness and discrimination. For example, laboratories and centers of forensic expert analysis that are subordinate to the Ministry of Justice have come to diametrically opposite conclusions about the presence or absence of indicators of "extremism" in the very same publications of Jehovah's Witnesses. Such a contradiction in and of itself is evidence of the unacceptable weakness of the methods. But, instead of striving to establish the truth, ensuring the unity and consistency of proper expert conclusions, the Ministry of Justice has used in courts only those conclusions that have led to finding books of Jehovah's Witnesses to be "extremist," and consequently to finding their organizations to be "extremist."


In the lawsuit numerous instances are cited testifying to the fact that prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses is politically motivated.


Believers of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses have already been recognized as victims of political repressions, by the order of the Russian president "On measures for rehabilitation of clergy and believers who have been victims of unjustified repressions." Russian legislation has condemned the years-long terror and massive persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses as incompatible with the ideals of right and justice, has expressed deep sympathy for the victims of unjustified repressions and to the relatives and neighbors, and has declared the unwavering attempt to achieve real guarantees of maintaining legality and human rights.


The Russian Supreme Court will begin consideration of the lawsuit on 5 April 2017. (tr. by PDS, posted 3 April 2017)

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