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German Cabinet voices concern over ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses activities in Russia

Russia violates its international obligations, according to the German government

BERLIN, July 19. /TASS/. The German government will keep a close eye on the situation around Jehovah’s Witnesses in light of the ruling by the Russian Supreme Court to uphold a ban on its activities, the Cabinet’s Coordinator for Intersocietal Cooperation with Russia Gernot Erler said on Wednesday.

"I am very much concerned about the decision to uphold the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activities," he noted. "That means that, despite our calls at all levels, they could face charges due to their religious beliefs and individual philosophy." According to Erler, the ban "paves the way to criminal prosecution of the organization’s members."

"Being a member of the Council of Europe, Russia violates its international obligations," he said. "We will be closely following the developments and the consequences of this decision for Jehovah’s Witnesses’ members. I proceed from the assumption that the ban will be considered by the European Court of Human Rights," Erler concluded.

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 throughout the country. The defense attorneys of Jehovah’s Witnesses immediately stated they would appeal the ruling at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).