[ April 20, 2017 ] Russia Bans Jehovah's Witnesses as 'Extremist' Group International

  • [ April 20, 2017 ] Russia Bans Jehovah's Witnesses as 'Extremist' Group International

[ April 20, 2017 ] Russia Bans Jehovah's Witnesses as 'Extremist' Group International

Russia's Supreme Court has declared Jehovah's Witnesses an extremist organization, ordering its assets liquidated and banning all activities in the country, Russian state media reported Thursday.

The Administrative Center of Jehovahs Witnesses told TASS it found this affair very worrisome, because a future decision would concern 175,000 practicing believers.

Following weeks of hearings, Russia's Supreme Court has backed the Ministry of Justice's move to liquidate the Jehovah's Witnesses' Administrative Center and its almost 400 religious organizations throughout the country and will seize its property, beginning immediately.

"Jehovah's Witnesses in Russian Federation are now given the heartrending choice of either abandoning their faith or facing punishment for practicing it".

Today, the state's Supreme Court granted the order, branding Jehovah's Witnesses an extremist organisation.

Jehovah's Witnesses pray at a regional congress at Traktar Stadium in Minsk, Belarus, July 25, 2015.

Jehovah's Witnesses has a history of persecution, including in Nazi Germany.

The Russian list of banned extremist organizations now contains 59 entries, a lot of them white supremacist organizations.

That claim has been consistently denied by the Russian branch of the USA -based organization. The Russian government cracked down on the group a year ago when it banned Jehovah's Witnesses literature they considered a violation of national security laws.

A member of the Council of Europe and a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, Russia is obligated to protect freedom of religion and association. The closure order directly violates the pluralism of thought and belief that is foundational to a democratic society and as the court has repeatedly affirmed, is "at the very heart of the protection which [the convention] affords".

In its lawsuit the Justice Ministry mentioned various violations, exposed by a snap check of the organizations activities, including those of the federal law on resistance to extremist activities.