RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES ATTEMPT TO SEIZE FOREIGN PROPERTY
Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 4 December 2017
On 7 December 2017 at 14:00, the Sestroretsk district court of the city of St. Petersburg will begin consideration of a lawsuit filed by the prosecutor's office, aimed at the confiscation of a large complex of real estate in St. Petersburg from a foreign organization, "The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania."
The issue deals with 14 buildings of 33,000 square meters, located on ten hectares of improved land in the village of Solnechnoe in the Kurort district of St. Petersburg. This complex has been openly owned since 2000 by the "Watchtower Society," an association that has been active since 1884 serving the interests of Jehovah's Witnesses throughout the world.
The Russian federation did not finance the construction of the complex. An abandoned Pioneers' camp was acquired on a commercial basis by Jehovah's Witnesses from a Russian enterprise. The ownership rights to the aforesaid complex, belonging to the "Watchtower Society," were officially registered by appropriate agencies of the Russian federation and for a space of 17 years nobody has challenged them. In these years, the "Watchtower Society," as owner of the real estate, transferred to the Russian budget tens of millions of rubles in the form of taxes.
Despite official declarations about the inviolability of private property in the Russian federation, the prosecutor's office is doing damage to the business reputation of the country by its actions. Nobody can feel protected in a state in which property rights even of foreign associations are openly violated on an international scale.
The hearing under the supervision of Judge N.L. Bogdanov will be held on 7 December at 14:00 in the Sestroretsk district court at number 41 Volodarsky Street in the city of Sestroretsk. (tr. by PDS, posted 4 December 2017)
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