Fourth day of Jehovah's Witnesses case in Supreme Court


Portal-Credo.Ru, 12 April 2017


Lawyer Viktor Zhenkov explained to the Supreme Court of the RF the attitude of Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) to "violations of the rights of citizens on the part of the religious organization" in the issue of the prohibition of blood transfusion, which exists among JW. A Portal-Credo.Ru correspondent reports that on 12 April the Supreme Court continued consideration of the declaration of the Russian Ministry of Justice for liquidation and recognition as "extremist" of all 396 JW religious organizations in Russia.


At first the lawyer expressed puzzlement because the Ministry of Justice had a document containing medical confidences. Regarding the specific case of refusal of blood transfusion introduced in the previous sessions by the ministry, Viktor Zhenkov stated that in said case there were no violations of the rights of a citizen, but on the contrary his right to voluntary, informed treatment was assured. The lawyer read excerpts from an order of the Russian Ministry of Health regarding the dangers of transfusion of components of blood and also the necessity to get beforehand from the patient written consent to conducting this operation.


At the present time, Judge Ivanenko is posing his own questions to the JW lawyers. To the question as to what "coordination of activity" of local organizations on the part of the JW Administrative Center consists of, they answered that the center provides to them recommendations: "For example, if there is a question about the construction of a house of worship, the Administrative Center may appeal to the Bible to recommend the construction of a modest and humble building. However the final decision about what the new building will be like is made by the local religious organization." It also was explained that the Administrative Center does not exercise the right, indicated in its charter, to create local religious organizations. All JW local religious organizations in Russia were established by citizens residing within the area of the activity of the local religious organization. In addition, representatives of local religious organizations are not members of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 April 2017)



Portal-Credo.Ru, 12 April 2017


The Supreme Court of the RF, as already noted earlier, granted on 12 April the petition of the Ministry of Justice for examining four witnesses for the plaintiff in the case for the  liquidation and recognition as "extremist" of all 396 religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. Acting as witnesses for the plaintiff were persons who in the past professed the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses but who subsequently left it, a Portal-Credo.Ru correspondent reports.


Speaking as the first witness for the side of the Ministry of Justice was Natalia Koretskaia, who left the JW religion many years ago. She was not able to explain to the court how in this case she could know about "incidents of extremist activity of the Jehovah's Witnesses" in recent years.


Questioning the witness Koretskaia, the judge called attention to the fact that she was using personal notes in giving testimony. An attorney for the defendant asked her how she could explain the similarity of wording from her notes "to texts from the website of a well known anti-sectarian center." The judge made the decision to acquaint himself with Koretskaia's notes later.


Questioning a witness for the Ministry of Justice, Pavel Zverev, the judge posed to him the question: "If you were harmed, did you turn to competent agencies with regard to this matter?" The witness answered that he did not. Zverev told the judge that under the influence of JW literature he "personally experienced hatred toward clergy of the Orthodox religion." To the question whether he is a member of anti-cultic organizations, Zverev answered that he was not, although had met and been photographed with the most famous "sect scholar."


After the examination of Zverev, the judge invited justice ministry witness Petrova, who also in the past had been a member of a JW religious organization. Petrova told the court that in 1983, after becoming a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, she quit her job, which was "connected with the propaganda of military heroism," since this is not consistent with the JW teaching. In 2009 she left the JW religion. As an example of the extremist activity of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses the witness cited the fact that Jehovah's Witnesses supposedly "exclude from their ranks those who commit sins." After the examination of Petrova, the judge asked the lawyer for the Ministry of Justice just what arguments of the justice ministry's lawsuit were confirmed by the testimony of this witness? The response again spoke about a hypothetical "possible threat to an indefinite circle of persons." To the judge's question whether the witness Petrova had seen anybody distribute extremist literature, the witness answered that she had not.


At 18:30 the judge summoned the last witness for the justice ministry, V.V. Koretsky. Koretsky left the Jehovah's Witnesses in 2009.


To the judge's question whether his knowledge about Jehovah's Witnesses was limited to the year 2009, the witness answered "yes." A lawyer for the Ministry of Justice asked the witness to explain what he knows about the attitude of Jehovah's Witnesses to higher education and to state symbols. The judge posed to the justice ministry's lawyer a counter question: "If you have not indicated these points in the grounds of the lawsuit, why do we need to clarify this?" The justice ministry's lawyer answered that "the question is withdrawn." To the judge's question of whether Koretsky is interested in the outcome of the case, he answered briefly: "yes."


After hearing the witnesses from the Ministry of Justice, the judge declared a recess until 10:00, 19 April 2017. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 April 2017)



Interfax-Religiia, 12 April 2017


Witnesses in the Russian Supreme Court, where a petition by the Ministry of Justice for banning Russian Jehovah's Witnesses is being considered, affirm that this religious organization forbids its adherents to communicate with "unbelieving" family members, to work in high-paying jobs, and to study in higher educational institutions.


"I was a zealous adherent of Jehovah's Witnesses, and all my life was structured so as to disseminate information about the organization. We were forbidden to communicate with other family members if they were not adherents. A family breakdown happened. I worked in a low-paying job in order to have more time for dissemination, and I considered that normal," a witness said in court, Natalia Koretskaia, a former member of the sect.


She said that the organization "considers higher education to be evil." "They consider all higher education is a sin and the whole world is under the power of Satan," the witness said.


N. Koretskaia maintains that the Administrative Center of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious organization tightly controls the life of believers.


"Jehovah's Witnesses live in complete total control of the Administrative Center. All of life is checked with respect to publications that the Administrative Center distributes. They check the life of simple people by the publications; all spheres of life are subjected to total control, including intimacy," she reported.


"I was in the organization for 14 years, and after I left I built my life anew and I learned to communicate with people," the witness said.


However N. Koretskaia had difficulty talking about instances of the distribution of extremist literature.


In his turn, another witness, a former devotee Pavel Zverev told the court that when he was an adherent of the organizations he felt his superiority over Christians.


"I and my friends from the organization considered ourselves superior; there formed in me a hateful attitude toward Orthodoxy and the clergy," he said.


P. Zverev also reported that at the insistence of the sect he did not receive higher education: "I was not able to arrange for a high paying job and to provide for my family."


On his part, the judge asked the witness whether he knows why other adherents not only receive higher education but also an academic degree, to which P. Zverev answered that apparently they received them back before their joining the organization.


In his turn, a witness who spoke for the side of the sect insisted that its adherents never have been engaged in extremist activity and oppose it by every means.


"You know that nothing extremist happens among us; we are urged to reject forbidden literature and to dispose of it. But there are dishonest people, and we always check before the start of a service whether some grannies have hidden extremist literature behind the toilet tank or behind the battery or under the stairway," witness Docent Valentin Zavialov said, who is a teacher in a higher education institution. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 April 2017)


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