HEAD OF RUSSIAN SUPREME COURT GRANTS POSSIBILITY OF REVIEW OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES' CASE IN EVENT OF E.C.H.R. DECISION
Interfax-Religiia, 12 February 2019
The question of a review of court actions regarding finding the religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses to be extremist may be raised in the event of a corresponding decision of the European Court of Human Rights (E.C.H.R.)
"As far as I know, they (Jehovists) turned to the E.C.H.R. We will see what kind of decision will be made. If (E.C.H.R.) satisfies the appeal, then they may apply (for review—IF), and we will consider it," the chairman of the Russian Supreme Court, Viacheslav Lebedev, told Interfax on Tuesday.
He recalled that at the present time the decision for finding the Jehovah's Witnesses to be an extremist organization and banning its activity on the territory of the RF has taken legal effect and should be implemented.
On 20 April 2017, the Supreme Court, based on a lawsuit by the Russian Ministry of Justice, ruled the Russian Jehovah's Witnesses to be an extremist organization and prohibited its activity on Russian territory. The appeals college of the Russian Supreme Court on 17 July 2017 ruled this decision to be legal.
The Zheleznodorozhny court of Orel on 6 February sentenced the Dane Dennis Christensen to six years incarceration in a case about creation of a regional subdivision of the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, which is forbidden in the RF. D. Christensen was arrested on 25 May 2017 in a building on Zheleznodorozhnaia St. in Orel, where local Jehovah's Witnesses conducted group reading of the Bible.
As D. Christensen's attorney, Anton Bogdanov, reported, his client was convicted for the fact that "he opened and closed the worship premises, he organized its housekeeping, he appointed persons for guard duty before a meeting, he personally conducted meetings at which he gave advice, and he explained the meaning of the contents of religious literature." (tr. by PDS, posted 12 February 2019)
JEHOVISTS ENGAGED IN ILLEGAL ACTIVITY; THEY ARE NOT PROSECUTED FOR FAITH—HEAD OF RUSSIAN SUPREME COURT
12 February 2019
The court decision banning the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in the RF does not concern persecution of faith but is exclusively linked with the violation by Jehovists of laws of Russia, the chairman of the Supreme Court, Viacheslav Lebedev, told journalists on Tuesday.
"Nobody is prosecuted for faith. The decision that was made banning the organization was related to the fact that it engaged in activity that was forbidden by law. Rescind the law and there will be nothing," he said.
"Actually, everything is being portrayed as if people are being prosecuted for their religious view and for religious activity. But after all the decision that was issued, including by the Supreme Court, is not tied to the issue of engagement in religion. The issue is otherwise—that the law was violated, rules were violated, which religious organizations do not have the right to violate," V. Lebedev noted.
He specified that at present the organization has passed through all stages of appeal with the RF, including the highest judicial instance, the Russian Supreme Court.
However earlier V. Lebedev explained that the question of the review of judicial actions with respect to Jehovah's Witnesses may be raised in the event of a corresponding decision of the European Court of Human Rights.
He recalled that at the present time the decision finding the Jehovah's Witnesses to be an extremist organization and banning its activity on the territory of the RF has taken legal effect and must be implemented. [. . .]
The Zheleznodorozhny court of Orel on 6 February sentenced the Dane Dennis Christensen to six years incarceration in a case about creating a regional subdivision of Jehovah's Witnesses. The European Union demanded that Russia immediately release him.
On 7 February, the Russian president's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, declared that the situation of the Jehovah's Witnesses is complex and connected with a court's decision that ruled this organization to be extremist. He also reported about plans to look into it. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 February 2019)
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