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Russia’s Supreme Court bans Jehovah’s Witnesses as extremist organization

Russia’s Supreme Court has ruled to recognize Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist organization and liquidate it

MOSCOW, April 20. /TASS/. Russia’s Supreme Court has declared Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist organization and outlawed its activity in the whole territory of Russia, thereby sustaining the Justice Ministry’s demands.

The court declared the immediate abolition of all 395 local chapters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and turned the organization’s assets into state property.

Judge Yuri Ivanchenko read out only the resolutive part of the decision. The full text of the ruling will be handed to the parties within five days.

Jehovah’s Witnesses has said it would appeal the decision. The organization’s spokesman said if the appellate panel of Supreme Court judges upheld Thursday’s verdict, the case would be taken to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Supreme Court’s ruling has not taken effect yet. If the organization appeals it, the ruling will come into force as of the moment the appellate court pronounces its opinion or in 30 days’ time.

Gist of the case

In its lawsuit the Justice Ministry mentioned 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 called for declaring the organization and its 395 local chapters as extremist, banning them and confiscating their properties.

A court in Moscow on October 12, 2016 warned Jehovah’s Witnesses over what it ruled was extremism. 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 comes to light. The Moscow City Court on January 16, 2017 upheld the warning over extremism handed to Jehovah’s Witnesses.