MOSCOW, April 24 (RAPSI) – The Zamoskvoretsky District Court of Moscow has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Jehovah's Witnesses against Russian Justice Ministry over suspension of the organization’s activities in Russia, RAPSI reported from the courtroom on Monday.
On March 15, the Justice Ministry has suspended activities of the Jehovah's Witnesses until the Supreme Court’s review of a petition filed by authorities asking to declare religious organization extremist. On April 20, Russia’s Supreme Court banned the Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses as extremist organization. The Centre and all its 395 branches are to be liquidated.
Jehovah's Witnesses claim that such actions as the Ministry’s lawsuit over liquidation are perpetrated to limit religious freedoms and that 175,000 followers of the organization will be affected.
According to the Justice Ministry, violations of the law “On Combatting Extremism” were revealed during inspection conducted in the organization. The Prosecutor General’s Office’s notice concerning inadmissibility of carrying out extremist activities by Jehovah's Witnesses has taken effect, the Ministry said. Since 2009, 95 materials distributed by the organization in Russia have been declared extremist and 8 Jehovah's Witnesses’ branches have been liquidated.
Jehovah’s Witnesses organization has had many legal problems in Russia.
On January 25, chairman of the Jehovah’s Witnesses branch in the town of Dzerzhinsk was fined 4,000 rubles ($67) for keeping and distributing extremist literature banned in Russia.
On October 12, 2015, a court in the Jewish Autonomous Region ruled to ban a branch of “The Jehovah’s Witnesses” in Birobidzhan because of distributing extremist literature by the organization.
On June 16, 2015, Russia’s Supreme Court declared “The Jehovah’s Witnesses of Stary Oskol” in the Belgorod Region an extremist organization and ruled to liquidate it.
On June 9, 2015, the Jehovah’s Witnesses of Belgorod was banned as extremist organization.
In March 2015, a court in Tyumen fined the organization 50,000 rubles ($792) and seized prohibited literature.
In January 2014, a court in Kurgan ruled to ban the organization’s booklets as extremist. The books talk about how to have a happy life, what you can hope for, how to develop good relations with God and what you should know about God and its meaning.
In late December 2013, the leader of the organization’s group in Tobolsk, Siberia was charged with extremism and the prevention of a blood transfusion that nearly led to the death of a female member of the group.
In 2004, a court in Moscow dissolved and banned a Jehovah’s Witnesses group on charges of recruiting children, encouraging believers to break from their families, inciting suicide and preventing believers from accepting medical assistance.
Jehovah's Witnesses is an international religious organization based in Brooklyn, New York. Since 2004 several branches and chapters of the organization were banned and shut down in various regions of Russia.