Russian justice ministry shows sensitivity to sympathy for Jehovah's Witnesses


Interfax-Religiia, 13 February 2019


The Ministry of Justice considers decisions of courts in the RF finding Jehovah's Witnesses to be an extremist organization and banning its activity in Russia to be well-founded and justified, the Ministry of Justice press service declared.


"The formulation of the legal position of authorities of the RF proceeds from the reasonableness and legality of decisions made by national courts with respect to the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, and consequently there are no violations of the provisions of the Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom," a communication of the press service says, responding to an Interfax inquiry.


It notes that such a position is contained in a response sent in December 2018 to the European Court of Human Rights in connection with the preparation of a review of the appeal of the "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and Kalinin v. Russia" and "Local Religious Organization of Glazov and others v. Russia."


"Final rulings on these appeals have not been issued as of now," the communications says. The date of the review of the appeals in the E.C.H.R. is still not known.


As reported, the Russian Supreme Court on 20 April 2017 granted the lawsuit of the Ministry of Justice, ruling the religious organization Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and local religious organizations that are members of its structure to be extremist and banning their activity on the territory of Russia.


According to the ruling, the chief organization Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia as well as 395 regional division are subject to liquidation. They all have been entered by the Ministry of Justice into the list of noncommercial organizations whose activity is forbidden on the territory of the country. The property of the organization, according to the court's decision, was converted to state income.


In the autumn of 2017, the Jehovah's Witnesses filed in the E.C.H.R. a lawsuit against the RF. According to information of news media, the total compensation for the believers' appeals comes to about 79 million Euros (around six billing rubles) but the basic demand upon Russia is the return of the confiscated real estate.


Meanwhile, on 6 February of this year, the Zheleznodorozhny court of Orel found a follower of the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Danish citizen Dennis Christensen, guilty of supervising the activity of an extremist community (part 1, article 282.2  CC RF) and imposed a penalty in the form of six years incarceration.


This court decision provoked broad public resonance, including on the international level. (tr. by PDS, posted 13 February 2019)

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