KREMLIN DECLARES THE COMPLEXITY OF THE SITUATION WITH JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES: TOPIC REMAINS ON AGENDA
Peskov suggests being guided by concept of legality on this question
Interfax-Religiia, 7 February 2019
The situation involving the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, which is considered in the RF to be extremist, remains on the agenda, although the problem is not simple.
This was stated to journalists on Thursday by the president's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, commenting on the sentence by the Zheleznodorozhny court of Orel of Danish citizen Dennis Ole Christensen in a case regarding the creation of a regional subdivision of an organization that is forbidden in the RF.
To the question whether a review of this situation will be conducted, D. Peskov said: "This review will be conducted. It is a process, a difficult topic, but nevertheless it remains on the agenda."
To journalists' question whether Jehovah's Witnesses are an extremist organization from the point of view of common sense, the president's press secretary said: "We cannot rely on concepts of common sense for governmental purposes."
"In the first place, we rely on the concepts of legality and illegality. In this case, the activity of this religious organization is illegal. This is a priority in the determination of the situation," D. Peskov said.
"Common sense is something that also should not and cannot be relegated to the background. Common sense, of course, should be present everywhere, always, and continually. But it cannot be a criterion," he continued, adding that "the criterion is the concept of legality."
"In this case, we can talk only about the court's decision," D. Peskov concluded.
"We have the Supreme Court; you can address questions to it. I do not think that this is a question that should be put to the presidential administration. This situation does not have anything to do with judicial reform. It has to do with existing legislation," D. Peskov noted. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 February 2019)
PUTIN'S ORDERS BEING PREPARED BASED ON SESSION OF RIGHTS COUNCIL, INCLUDING JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES—PESKOV
Interfax-Religiia, 7 February 2019
The list of orders prepared on the basis of the results of a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with members of the Council on Human Rights in December of last year includes the issue of the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses (forbidden in the RF), the press secretary of the head of state, Dmitry Peskov, told journalists on Thursday.
"Already one would say there is a rather broad list of the output of the president's orders based on the results of the session with members of the Council on Human Rights," he said.
D. Peskov clarified that it includes orders pertaining to the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses.
In July 2016, an Orel court ruled the activity of the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses of Orel to be extremist and made a decision for its liquidation. The Russian Supreme Court ruled this decision to be legal in October 2016.
"There will be an order; the question will be worked out, but naturally it will be worked out taking into account court decisions that have taken legal effect," D. Peskov concluded.
At a session of the Council on the Development of Civil Society, which was held on 11 December, the Russian president promised to conduct an analysis, along with the Russian Supreme Court, of the law enforcement practice on the issue of missionary activity in Russia. During the meeting with rights advocates, V. Putin noted that he does not very well understand why adherents of Jehovah's Witnesses are being prosecuted. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 February 2019)
RIGHT OF JEHOVAH' WITNESSES TO PROFESS THE RELIGION IS ENSHRINED IN THE CONSTITUTION AND SHOULD NOT BE RESTRICTED—HEAD OF C.H.R.
Fedotov: the decision to ban this organization in the RF can be reviewed
Interfax-Religiia, 7 February 2019
The decision of the Supreme Court finding Jehovah's Witnesses (forbidden in the RF) to be an extremist organization can be reviewed and the right of devotees of the religion to religious confession should not be restricted in any way, the head of the Council on Human Rights under the Russian president, Mikhail Fedotov, thinks.
"This question needs to be divided into two. The first question pertains to the organization: there was a centralized religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, a legal entity with all attributes, property, legal documents, and so forth. There is a decision of the Supreme Court regarding this organization: it is extremist and should be liquidated. Can this decision be reviewed? Of course, it can be reviewed," M. Fedotov told Interfax.
He said the second question consists in whether a citizen of the RF or a foreigner who is on the territory of Russia may profess the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses.
"The answer to this question: He may. It is his right according to the constitution of the Russian Federation. May he, as a devotee of the teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses, conduct corresponding religious rituals, alone or along with his fellow believers? The constitution of the RF also answers this question: He may," the head of the Council on Human Rights said.
"This should be clear to everybody, both citizens and law enforcers. If a person professes the teaching of the Jehovah's Witnesses, he is acting on his right and not violating the law," he emphasized.
In the opinion of the council's chair, Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia may create a new organization and do this in a way that conforms to the law.
As regards decisions already issued with respect to members of the organization, it is necessary to proceed from the materials and evidence in each specific instance, M. Fedotov noted.
"I have met often with representatives of Jehovah's Witnesses. They explained that the literature that has been ruled by a court to be extremist is not. That means, it is necessary to conduct additional expert analyses in order to determine whether it is or not. Some have declared this literature was planted on them. Again, it is necessary to clarify whether it was planted. If yes, then whoever did this should be put behind bars. If not, it means the decision was correct," he said.
Earlier on Thursday, the press secretary of the head of state, Dmitry Peskov, reported to journalists that the list of orders prepared on the basis of the results of the meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with members of the CHR in December of last year includes the question of the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 February 2019)
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