Comedy of errors in execution of confiscation of Jehovah's Witnesses' property


It turned out that the local organization had practically no property and the ownership of the only building supposedly belonging to it has not actually been established

 by Maria Gorozhaninova

Realnoe Vremya, 18 January 2017


In Kazan, as in other cities of Russia, judicial proceedings regarding the bankruptcy of the "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" are in full swing. And whereas in St. Petersburg the issue is about the real estate of the center, valued at 881 million rubles, in the capital of Tatarstan it is about a small wooden building. However, as Realnoe Vremya has discovered, the Kazanians who constitute the organization had never even heard about it before. At the time when the congregation still had not been banned, the Jehovists rented space for their needs. And the very existence of the building itself was in doubt.


Little Kazan


Throughout Russia, the complex redistribution of the real estate property of Jehovah's Witnesses, who recently were officially entered into the register of forbidden organizations, had fully begun. Since late October, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian federation has initiated more than 20 cases based on the bankruptcy of the organization and its regional subdivisions. In the proceedings, property will be seized in the state's favor. In St. Petersburg, a court has already seized 16 items of real estate with a total assessed value of 881.4 million rubles. In Tatarstan, so far two such cases had been registered in the arbitration file on 31 October, both with respect to Jehovah's Witnesses of Nizhnekamsk and Nizhnekamsk district.


As it turned out, in Tatarstan the Jehovists have nothing in particular to divide. According to materials of the case, the organization owns only a residence in Kazan, at 16 Shosseinaya Street, in Kirov district, with the assessment number 16:50:060613:388. Since March 2014, the building has been in the shared ownership of three individuals. Why the question of the fate of the property of individuals—and not a religious organization—was being considered in the court was not explained at the regular session last Friday. Just as the mechanism was not explained whereby private property can be viewed as the property of a legal entity.


Ownership a puzzle


But what is most interesting is that the people who earlier constituted the "Jehovah's Witnesses" do not know about this piece of real estate. In conversation with a Realnoe Vremya corresponent, one of the former members of the organization, Vitaly S., explained that they rented space for their activity and he never heard anything about the building on Shosseinaya.


There is also a problem with the official information about the place at 16 Shosseinaya. The issue is that in the materials of the case the assessment number in the public assessment map cites an entirely different item—an apartment in an apartment building at 4 Volochaevskaya.


In turn, according to the data of the Rosregister, the assessment number of the building at 16 Shosseinaya is 16:50:230201:115. The one-story wooden building was registered in 2007 and is valued at two million rubles. Its owner since 2009 has been one person, and not three, as stated in the case. The land at the same address has the assessment number 16:50:090613:14. The owner is a completely different person. The area of the parcel of land is 598 square meters and its assessed value is 3,854,000 rubles. While the type of permitted use does not correspond with the actual structure, since the land is designated for buildings of culture and art. Unfortunately the court has not managed to figure out the riddle of these inconsistencies, and the next session in this case was postponed on the basis of a petition by Rosimushestvo [Federal Property Management Agency] in Ulianov province.


All property to the state


According to materials of the case, the Ministry of Justice has proposed as arbiter in the case of the Tatarstan Jehovah's Witnesses a member of the Inter-Regional Self-Regulating Organization of Professional Arbiters, Sergei Kryazhev, who will receive 30 thousand rubles a month for his work.


We recall that the activity of the Jehovah's Witnesses was ruled to be illegal on 20 April, when the Russian Supreme Court issued a decision for the liquidation of the administrative center of the organization because of the conduct of extremist activity. This was preceded by a decision of the Ministry of Justice of 3 March 2017 regarding suspension of the activity of the "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" because of its conduct of extremist activity. On 6 April the ministry demanded through the court the confiscation of the property of the organization, and on 15 March the agency filed a lawsuit for liquidation of the organization. The prohibition applies to 2,277 religious groups throughout Russia, which number about 175,000 adherents. The Jehovists were not able to appeal the court's decision.


Realnoe Vremya wrote in detail about the reaction of Jehovists immediately after the ban. At the time, representatives of the Kazan division of Witnesses told our publication that their organization is peace-loving and does not have signs of extremism.


According to law, the property of the religious organization will revert to the state. This procedure is controlled by article 64, point 5.2 of the Civil Code of the RF, which provides that "in the event of the discovery of property of a liquidated legal entity that has been eliminated from the Uniform State Register of Legal Entities, including as the result of the ruling of said legal entity to be insolvent (bankrupt), an interested person or authorized state agency has the right to turn to a court with a petition for ordering a procedure of distribution of the discovered property among persons who have a right to it." (tr. by PDS, posted 19 December 2017)

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