The decision of the Supreme Court provoked a severe act of religious intolerance in St. Petersburg
A few hours after the Russian Supreme Court announced the decision to liquidate the center of Jehovah's Witnesses, late on the evening of April 20, 2017, a group of men drove two passenger cars to the largest worship building of Jehovah's Witnesses in St. Petersburg, located on Kolomyazhsky Prospekt. They parked the cars in front of the building. One of the visitors, shouting insults at the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses and the threat of physical harm, threw the facade of the building, including glass doors and windows, with cobblestones. The church has suffered significant damage.
Such a development of events was predicted by lawyers who spoke in court. A little earlier that day, speaking in the debate, Maxim Novakov, representing the center of Jehovah's Witnesses, predicted that the court could provoke a wave of violence against Witnesses: from damage to property to attacks on believers motivated by religious hatred. These are the inevitable consequences of the fact that peaceful people are groundlessly ranked as dangerous criminals.
Russia bans Jehovah's Witnesses after supreme court rules Christian sect 'extremists'
The Supreme Court decided to liquidate the centralized religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, as well as all 395 local religious organizations of this religion.
Russia has banned Jehovah's Witnesses after the Supreme Court ruled the Christian sect to be an "extremist" group.
“The Supreme Court has ruled to sustain the claim of Russia's ministry of justice and deem the 'Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia' organisation extremist, eliminate it and ban its activity in Russia,” said judge Yuri Ivanenko.
“The property of the Jehovah's Witnesses organisation is to be confiscated to the state revenue.”
Believers have already begun to prepare a complaint to the appellate instance (the panel consisting of three judges of the Supreme Court), which should be considered within a month.
Russia's Supreme Court is due to resume considering a total ban on Jehovah's Witness activity on 12 April. Already police in several towns have disrupted their worship. A Moscow community's rental of a hall to mark their main annual commemoration was cancelled after an FSB visit.
By Victoria Arnold, Forum 18
Latest decision on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia is yet another blow to the religious organization.
Russia’s news agency is reporting the city court of Birobidzhan’s decision to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses will be upheld. A Justice Ministry suit is working to ban the Jehovah’s Witness religion entirely. The following is a statement from Office of Public Information for Jehovah’s Witnesses: In a second day of proceedings, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation continued to consider a claim from the Ministry of Justice to liquidate the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. The day concluded with a recess until Friday, April 7, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. During the session, the Supreme Court judge and lawyers for Jehovah’s Witnesses were able to question the representative for the Ministry of Justice, asking him to produce proof that Jehovah’s Witnesses are extremist—the basis of the claim. The Ministry of Justice was unable to provide evidence supporting their claims, such as that they fail to take effective measures against extremism. The Ministry of Justice also could not substantiate accusations regarding the Witness’ literature. For example, it was established that the Witnesses’ literature prohibited in Russia had not been distributed in the country for years, and among forensic experts, there was not a consensus that their literature should be considered extremist. The Ministry could not prove that offenses had ever been committed under the influence of the Witness’ literature. At one point during the trial, the presiding judge asked the representative for the Ministry of Justice, ‘If you are asking for Jehovah’s Witnesses to be banned, does this mean that the faithful who gather for prayer would be under the threat of criminal prosecution?’ The Ministry of Justice replied, ‘Yes, if the court finds them guilty of violating Art. 282.2 of the Russian criminal code.’ David A. Semonian, a spokesman at the Witnesses’ world headquarters in New York, explains: “It was clear by today’s proceedings that the Ministry of Justice has no basis for their claims against our organization.” He adds, “But we also note the Ministry of Justice’s admission. We hope that the Supreme Court upholds justice and prevents this violation of our basic human rights.”
Russia's Supreme Court upholds ban on Jehovah's Witnesses
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's Supreme Court has upheld the decision of a Russian city to ban Jehovah's Witnesses as an extremist group.
The decision Thursday came amid proceedings on a Justice Ministry suit to ban the religious organization in Russia altogether.
Prior to the ruling, David A. Semonian, a spokesman at its world headquarters in New York, said the group hopes "Russia's Supreme Court will uphold the rights of our fellow believers in Russia to freely carry out their peaceful worship."
Russian Supreme Court rejects Jehovah Witnesses' counterclaim seeking their recognition as victims of political repression
Moscow, April 5, Interfax - The Russian Supreme Court, having heard the parties' arguments, decided not to accept the counterclaim filed by Russia's Jehovah Witnesses seeking recognition of their organization as a victim of political repression.
"Decline to accept the claim. Court jurisdiction roles do not envisage the acceptance of a counterclaim. At the same time, we will exercise judicial control over the legality of the work of the Justice Ministry on the basis of the claimant's written objections," the judge said. A representative of the organization earlier said in court: "We are asking to hear our counterclaim seeking the recognition of the Russian religious organization Jehovah Witnesses as a victim of political repression and recognize the political persecution and the actions taken by the Justice Ministry on us as illegal."
He had asked for the organization's claim to be heard together with the Justice Ministry's claim.
The Russian Supreme Court on Wednesday is considering the issue of recognizing Russia's Jehovah Witnesses as an extremist organization and banning its activities on the territory of Russia under an administrative lawsuit filed by the Russian Justice Ministry.
The religious organization filed the claim on March 15, when the work of the Jehovah Witnesses was suspended for extremist activities on the orders of the Justice Ministry until the hearing of the lawsuit in the Supreme Court.
By Russia’s legalistic definition Jehovah’s Witnesses are an extremist cult. But so were the original Christians. Jehovah’s Witnesses are charged with breaking up families. Why should they deny it? Did not Jesus say in Matthew 10:34-37: “Do not think I came to bring peace to the earth; I came to bring, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and whoever has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me.”?
The two lawyers for a Jehovah's Witness now on trial in Astana are themselves under criminal investigation. The KNB secret police investigator accuses them of "revealing information from a pre-trial investigation" by appealing to President Nazarbayev for the case against their client to be halted.