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Jehovah's Witnesses lawyer asks Russian Supreme Court to question religious expert

July 17, 13:28 UTC+3 MOSCOW

In April, Russia’s Supreme Court declared Jehovah’s Witnesses to be an extremist organization and outlawed its activity throughout Russia

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Russia's Supreme Court judge Yuri Ivanenko delivering his decision about Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in Russia, April 20, 2017

Russia's Supreme Court judge Yuri Ivanenko delivering his decision about Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in Russia, April 20, 2017

© AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

MOSCOW, July 17. /TASS/. A lawyer for the Jehovah’s Witnesses has filed several motions at a session of the board of appeals of Russia’s Supreme Court that is considering a complaint against a decision to recognize the organization as extremist and ban its activity in the country.

"We believe it is necessary to involve a specialist in religious studies. This is not just a legal entity that has been eliminated, but a whole religion has been liquidated. This religion has its doctrine, there is the need to question a religious studies scholar and find out if indeed this doctrine is that dangerous that it can be equaled to extremism," lawyer Viktor Zhenkov said.

"We are not asking the court to re-evaluate the court’s decisions. But we want the court, when it accepts a decision on the elimination or refuses to eliminate religious movements, to understand if the literature of (the Jehovah’s Witnesses) is assessed reasonably," he said.

Another lawyer Anton Omelchenko presented a motion to double check if the organization’s literature contains any extremist material. Besides, the lawyers also asked the court to question additional witnesses of the alleged falsifications and also conducting a video recording of the court session. The lawyers also wanted to delay the date of considering the complaint.

A representative of the Justice Ministry, Svetlana Borisova, has protested all the motions of the attorneys.

A TASS correspondent said the board of appeals ruled to reject all the motions.

In April, Russia’s Supreme Court declared Jehovah’s Witnesses to be an extremist organization and outlawed its activity throughout Russia, thereby upholding the Justice Ministry’s requests. The court declared the immediate shutdown of all 395 local chapters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and transferred the organization’s assets into state custody.

Jehovah’s Witnesses is an international religious organization that supports offbeat views on the essence of the Christian faith and provides special interpretations of many commonly accepted notions.

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