MOSCOW, May 3 (RAPSI) – A Russian court’s ruling to seize the property of the banned Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in favor of the state has come into force, the St. Petersburg City Court has stated.
Earlier, the St. Petersburg City Court upheld the ruling of a lower court confiscating the property of Jehovah’s Witnesses valued at 881.5 million rubles (about $14.2 million). The appeal was filed by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania registered in the U.S., which is the recipient of the liquidated organization’s property.
The Jehovah's Witnesses assets included 16 property items in St. Petersburg, according to prosecutors.
In December, the Sestrotretsky District Court of St. Petersburg found that the Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses transferred its property complex to Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania under a donation agreement on March 1, 2000. However, the court declared the deal fraudulent because the Jehovah's Witnesses continued using the property after its transfer to the foreign organization and confiscated the property complex in profit of the Russian Federation.
In April 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia ordered liquidation of the Jehovah's Witnesses managing organization and all its 395 local branches. In August, the Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses was added to the list of banned extremist organizations.
Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization has had many legal problems in Russia. Since 2009, 95 materials distributed by the organization in the country have been declared extremist and 8 Jehovah's Witnesses’ branches have been liquidated, according to the Justice Ministry.
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.