MOSCOW, April 20 (RAPSI, Oleg Sivozhelezov) – Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday banned the Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses as extremist organization, RAPSI reported from the courtroom.
The Centre and its local branches are to be liquidated.
The court therefore granted a lawsuit lodged by the Justice Ministry seeking to recognize the Jehovah's Witnesses managing organization as extremist, ban its activities and liquidate all its 395 local branches across Russia.
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.
The Justice Ministry’s representatives said in court that the Administrative Centre’s activities endanger observance of rights and legal interests of people as well as peacekeeping and security protection.
The Centre’s representatives earlier claimed in court that the organization had not received a letter from the Justice Ministry and said that if it is going to be found extremist, consequences for the religious freedom in Russia would be extremely negative.
Jehovah’s Witnesses religious 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.