Fifth session of Supreme Court case regarding Jehovah's Witnesses


Majority of materials testify to the absence of extremism in their activity

Portal-Credo.Ru, 19 April 2017


Judicial proceedings in the lawsuit of the Russian Ministry of Justice for liquidating, ruling to be extremist, and banning the activity of 396 religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) in Russia and also confiscating their property resumed on 19 April in the Supreme Court of the RF after a week-long recess, a Portal-Credo.Ru correspondent reports.


The session began with the attachment to the materials of the case of documentary evidence of plants of "extremist literature" in JW houses of worship and attempts to illegally put an end to activity of JW congregations by representatives of law enforcement agencies. On the basis of a petition of the justice ministry, decisions of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia regarding appointment of members of executive bodies of local religious organizations also were added to the case.


After that, the court proceeded to examination of materials of the case. In the examination of "Foundations of the doctrine and practice corresponding to it of the Jehovah's Witnesses" attention was focused on the requirement of love for one's neighbor and toleration, and also about the obligation of JW "to give their children a good education." A new, curious detail of JW "extremist activity" was revealed: their brochure "Jehovah's Witnesses. Who are the? What do they believe?" was ruled to be extremist for the mention of the fact that Jehovah's Witnesses do not bear arms.


A lawyer for the Ministry of Justice reported that, according to one of the JW documents, in Russia more than 2,000 unregistered groups are functioning under the leadership of their Administrative Center.


The court asked the justice ministry's lawyer what was the purpose of including in the case the turnover balance sheet of the JW. The justice ministry's lawyer explained that the balance sheet gives evidence that "financial means are possibly aimed at financing extremist activity." To the judge's question about what showed that it was on "extremist activity" that the money was spent and not on ordinary charter goals, the lawyer for the Ministry of Justice was not able to give a clear answer. Also an answer was not forthcoming to the question by lawyer Omelchenko to the justice ministry's lawyer: "Can you name specifically what sum, when, and by whom was it spent and what was the specific form of extremist activity?"


Lawyer Zhenkov called the court's attention to the state religious studies expert analysis of the Ministry of Justice, on the basis of the conclusions of which the Administrative Center was registered. The conclusions of this expert analysis are in effect to the present.


The case also presents about 70 expert conclusions testifying to the absence of extremism in JW publications. Lawyer Zhenkov quoted the book "Humanity in search of God": "To study different religions does not mean to betray one's own faith. On the contrary, it may strengthen it, when we see how other people are seeking the truth and what this gave to them. Knowledge gives understanding and understanding gives tolerance for people who have other views." Experts did not find indicators of extremism in the book; however the Ministry of Justice included it in the Federal List of Extremist Materials.


Later the decisions and judgments of courts that have taken effect were studied, which give evidence of the absence of extremist tendencies in JW publications. A short discussion arose again in the trial about the "prohibition of blood transfusion" in connection with examination of the decision of the European Court for Human Rights. Also studied were materials giving evidence about the falsification of evidence in a number of cases regarding Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.


The session is continuing. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 April 2017)



Portal-Credo.Ru, 19 April 2017


Judge Ignatenko, who is presiding in the trial of the case for "liquidation" of religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, rejected in the evening of 19 April the attachment to materials of the case decisions by courts regarding compulsory blood transfusion for patients. The lawyer for the plaintiff, the Russian Ministry of Justice, had petitioned to attach such decisions to the case, a Portal-Credo.Ru correspondent reports. In the justice ministry's statement, which the court is considering, the refusal by Jehovah's Witnesses of blood transfusion figures in the capacity of a fundamental indicator of the "extremism" of this confession.


The court also studied materials giving evidence of plants on the Jehovah's Witnesses of extremist materials by "siloviki," including color photographs of stop frames from surveillance cameras.  Evidence was also reviewed that "false evidence" is present in earlier requested materials, and "false witnesses" gave testimony in corresponding cases. Recently a court in Voronezh ruled that extremist materials found tucked under carpet nailed to the floor in a JW house of worship clearly had been planted on them.


The Jehovah's Witnesses' attorney in the court Toporov called attention to the fact that the decision for the liquidation of the JW religious organization in Birobidzhan was made in a judicial proceeding with the participation of the very same justice ministry's lawyer, Svetlana Borisova, who is representing her ministry in the Supreme Court also. However the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, whose liquidation the justice ministry now seeks, was not summoned for participation in the Birobiczhan case, since the justice ministry acknowledged that the interests of the center were not affected in the case. In the current proceedings, on the contrary, the Ministry of Justice maintains that the decision in the Birobiczhan case is an argument in favor of the liquidation of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.


The court also refused to include in the materials of the case documents of prosecutorial warnings to the Jehovah's Witnesses about the "impermissibility of extremist activity" declared by the plaintiff. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 April 2017)



Portal-Credo.Ru, 19 April 2017


Judicial proceedings on the case of the Russian Ministry of Justice for the liquidation of all 396 religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) in Russia and for finding them "extremist" and for banning their activity and confiscating their property will continue in the Supreme Court of the RF on 20 April at 14:00, a Portal-Credo.Ru correspondent reports. In the opinion of observers, the petitions of the sides have been exhausted and the 20 April session has every chance of being the concluding one at this stage of the trial.


At an evening session on 19 April, Judge Ivanenko granted the petition of the justice ministry's lawyer for attaching to the materials of the case an updated excerpt from the state register with a specific list of the property of the JW religious organizations in Russia (which according to the plan of the ministry is subject to confiscation). Commenting on this excerpt, JW lawyers explained that it included the property that in the past belonged to JW organizations and subsequently was alienated.


The court denied JW their petition earlier submitted for viewing video recordings of plants by siloviki of extremist materials in houses of worship. (tr. by PDS, posted 19 April 2017)

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