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MOSCOW, April 12. /TASS/. Russia’s Supreme Court will continue hearings on Wednesday on a lawsuit filed by the Justice Ministry requesting to outlaw the Jehovah's Witnesses that showed "signs of extremist activity."
The court earlier heard the position of the ministry’s representative and lawyers of the Jehovah's Witnesses. At Wednesday’s hearing, eyewitnesses will be questioned and then the court will be able to study the case files and hear the arguments.
In its lawsuit, the ministry pointed to various violations in the organization’s activities revealed during a surprise inspection, including of the Law on Counteracting Extremist Activities. The ministry asks to recognize the organization and its 395 local branches as extremists, ban their activity and seize property.
For its part, the organization’s press service told TASS that they were alarmed by the decision, since it could affect 175,000 active believers. The Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman Ivan Bilenko said the organization was prepared to press for its rights in any courts.
On October 12, 2016, Moscow’s Tverskoy district court issued a warning to the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center in connection with the revelations of extremism there. Under Russian law, a religious association or organization is subject to termination if it does not remedy the specified manifestations of extremism before the required deadline or displays new ones.
On January 16, 2017, Moscow City Court passed a resolution that corroborated the validity of the warning for extremist activities.
The 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. In Russia, it had 21 local organizations but three of them were eliminated for extremism.