Trial of Jehovah's Witnesses' Bible resumes


Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 9 August 2017


On 9 August 2017, the hearings on the lawsuit of the transport prosecutor's office for finding the Bible, which was seized in customs from the Jehovah's Witnesses, to be "extremist material" is continuing in Vyborg city court (Leningrad province).


The issue is a contemporary translation of the Bible of 2007, known as "Sacred Scripture—New World Translation." Earlier, customs blocked the import into Russia of 2,016 copies of the Bible. Later Jehovah's Witnesses were also prohibited from importing a batch of Bibles in the official translation of the Russian Orthodox Church (Synodal edition) and the "Cognitive Bible" published by the Russian Bible Society.


On 15 March 2016, hearings began in Vyborg city court on the ban of the "New World Translation." The lawsuit of the prosecutor's office evoked puzzlement among religious studies scholars and rights advocates, including members of the Council on Human Rights under the president of the RF, L. Alekseeva, A. Verkhovsky, and V. Riakhovsky.


Before filing the lawsuit, the prosecutor's office enlisted the support of an "expert," Natalia Kriukova, famous as the author of about 50 "scientific" conclusions against Jehovah's Witnesses. Changing the objects of the investigation, the "expert" declared that said translation of the Bible is "extremist" simply because it is used by Jehovah's Witnesses!


However, the Vyborg city court went further: in violation of the logic of jurisprudence and violating a number of provisions of the legislation of the RF, Judge Roman Petrov sent the Bible for forensic expert analysis by the same N. Kriukova! While existing legislation forbids ordering an expert analysis in an institution whose director has already conducted an investigation on the given subject. The actions of the judge are most amazing in light of the fact that the Bible simply cannot be subjected to expert analysis for finding extremism, inasmuch as the president of the RF introduced a special amendment into the law on extremism protecting sacred texts, including the Bible, from the action of anti-extremism legislation.


In her new "expert conclusion" of 6 June 2017, N. Kriukova, as expected, came to the conclusion of the existence of extremism in said translation of the Bible! In support of her conclusions she cited the following quote no fewer than 12 times: "God poured down rain of fire and brimstone on Sodom and the neighboring city of Gomorrah. All their wicked inhabitants died."


The unjustified inclusion of printed materials of the Jehovah's Witnesses in the Federal List of Extremist Materials is the only reason for all accusations of extremism against official representations of this religion, leading to their total ban in Russia. (tr. by PDS, posted 9 August 2017)

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