Supreme Court bans Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia

21 April, 2017, 04:20 | Author: Van Morton
  • Members of Jehovah's Witnesses listen to the judge's verdict in a court room in Moscow

Justice Yury Ivanenko in his verdict on Thursday, said Russia had made a decision to close down "the administrative centre of Jehovah's Witnesses and the local organisations in its fold and turn their property over to the Russian Federation".

Participants attend a hearing on the justice ministry request to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses at Russia's Supreme Court in Moscow on April 20, 2017.

The group, which has vowed to appeal the verdict, was earlier declared an extremist organization by a Moscow city court in January, state media reported.

Jehovah Witness has 395 centres across Russian Federation. Russian Federation previously shuttered eight local chapters on allegations of extremism. The group has said it will appeal the decision. "USCIRF calls on the Russian government to stop its harassment of this peaceful religious group".

Leaders of the group could face as many as 10 years in prison.

In its claim to the Russian Supreme Court, the ministry accused Jehovah's Witnesses of disseminating "extremist" pamphlets and said the center and all regional facilities should be "liquidated".

Koretskaya said she had been expelled from the religious organisation and its members had been banned to communicate with her after she started close but officially unregistered relationship with a man.

Human Rights Watch condemned the Russian Supreme Court's ruling against Jehovah's Witnesses in a statement Thursday.

Jehovah's Witnesses, who are known for door-to-door preaching and handing out literature, reject some of mainstream Christianity's core beliefs and have more than 8.3 million members around the world.

The group, which has 395 branches encompassing 175,000 members in the country, also warned of the damaging impact in the country for religious liberty. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2010 that the move had violated the right to freedom of religion and association.

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