COURT IN MOSCOW TO EXAMINE LEGALITY OF SUSPENSION OF WORK OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
RIA Novosti, 13 April 2017
The Zamoskvoreche court of Moscow on Thursday will examine the legality of the order of the Russian Ministry of Justice suspending the activity of the head organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, the press secretary of the court, Emiliia Khil, told RIA Novosti.
The plaintiff's declaration from the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses against the Russian Ministry of Justice was accepted for consideration, and preparation for the civil case was scheduled for Thursday, the press secretary said.
By its order the justice ministry suspended the work of the Jehovah's Witnesses until the completion of the proceedings in the Russian Supreme Court, where the ministry is seeking recognition of the activity of the organization to be extremist and, in connection with this, its liquidation and prohibition. In the event that the lawsuit is granted, adherents of the Jehovah's Witnesses will be liable for criminal prosecution.
The justice ministry is sure that the work of the Jehovah's Witnesses engenders a threat to the protection of the rights and interests of society and public security, a lawyer for the ministry indicated. She cited decisions of courts, which found 95 Jehovah's Witnesses brochures to be extremist, as well as the activity of eight organizations in regions of Russia. Lawyers for the organization retorted that the claims were directed at quotations from the Bible and in addition bodies of the government have not reconsidered the question about the presence of extremism in these brochures after the introduction of changes in legislation regarding such crimes.
In particular, the Ministry of Justice accuses Jehovah's Witnesses of refusing blood transfusion. Meanwhile a lawyer for the organization noted that refusal of blood transfusion is not extremism—such action does not exist in the law on combating extremist activity. He noted that the Ministry of Justice introduced as an example only a single incident, when doctors proposed to parents two alternative means of treatment, one of which provided for blood transfusion. But the parents wanted to treat the child with medicines.
The proceedings on the lawsuit of the Ministry of Justice for liquidation of the Jehovah's Witnesses will continue in the Supreme Court of the RF on 19 April.
The Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia is the head organization, managing affiliates of Jehovah's Witnesses in the RF. This religious organization regularly has problems with the law in Russia, from judicial orders banning its activity and liquidating its divisions to fines for possession of extremist materials. (tr. by PDS, posted 13 April 2017)
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