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MOSCOW, April 19. /TASS/. Russia’s Supreme Court on April 20 will hold debates over the Justice Ministry’s request for banning Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, a TASS correspondent reports.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday finished studying the related evidence. Earlier, it heard witnesses for both sides. Debates by the parties concerned will be the final phase of the legal proceedings. The petitioner and the respondent will be able to analyze the arguments and evidence involved. After that the court will retire for writing an opinion.
In its lawsuit the Justice Ministry mentions various violations, exposed by a snap check of the organization’s activities, including those of the federal law on resistance to extremist activities. The Justice Ministry wants the organization and its 395 local chapters to be declared as extremist and outlawed and its properties to be confiscated.
The Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses told TASS it found this affair very worrisome, because a future decision would concern 175,000 practicing believers. ACJW spokesman Ivan Bilenko said the organization was prepared to seek protection of its rights in courts of any instance.
A court in Moscow on October 12, 2016 warned Jehovah’s Witnesses over what it ruled was extremist activities. Under Russian legislation the religious organization in question is to be closed down if it fails to eliminate the exposed violations within the required deadline or if new evidence of its extremist activities come to light. The Moscow City Court on January 16, 2017 upheld the warning over extremism handed to Jehovah’s Witnesses.