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Poll reveals most Russians familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses support its ban

July 25, 12:11 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Russian Supreme Court upheld the court’s April 20 ruling to qualify Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist organization, disband it and ban its activities in the country

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© Vitaliy Belousov/TASS

MOSCOW, July 25. /TASS/. Three-quarters of Russians (76%) are aware of the existence of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization (banned in Russia). More than three-quarters of them back the Russian Supreme Court’s ruling to ban it, a survey conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center showed on Tuesday.

Only every fifth respondent (20%) heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the first time during the survey, while 4% of those polled found it difficult to answer that question. On the other hand, 53% of those surveyed who heard something about that organization view it in a negative light, and 44% said their attitude towards it was neutral. The Supreme Court’s decision to ban the organization’s activities in Russia is supported by 76% of the respondents who are aware of its activities. Just 5% of those polled said they disagree with the court’s decision, while 16% said they are indifferent to the issue.

Substantial answers regarding the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses were either negative (a religious sect - 18%, propagandists, fanatical behavior - 12%, a con game - 6% and so on) or neutral (a religious movement - 10%, distribution of leaflets… - 8%).

When asked whether Jehovah’s Witnesses can be considered a religious denomination, 80% of those Russians who heard at least something about that group responded negatively. Just 11% of those polled adhere to the opposite opinion.

The poll was conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center on July 20-21, 2017, with 1,200 people interviewed. The margin of error does not exceed 3.5%.

On July 17, the Russian Supreme Court upheld the court’s April 20 ruling to qualify Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist organization, disband it and ban its activities in the country. The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ defense attorneys immediately stated they would appeal the ruling to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The EU, Germany and the UK likewise called for cancelling the ban on the organization’s activities.

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