Russian Supreme Court refuses to declare Jehovah's Witnesses victims of repressions
MOSCOW, April 5 (RAPSI) – The Supreme Court of Russia has dismissed a counter lawsuit filed by the Jehovah's Witnesses religious organization against the Justice Ministry seeking to declare its actions unlawful and to recognize organization’s members as victims of political repressions, RAPSI reported from the courtroom on Wednesday.
The court ruled that it is ineligible to review this lawsuit because declaring someone a victim of political repressions is responsibility of other organizations. The court’s representative did not specify which organizations those would be.
Jehovah's Witnesses’ lawyers noted that they are subjected to repressions since 1981 when Yury Andropov called them “extremists”.
On March 16, the Justice Ministry asked the Supreme Court to find the Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses an extremist organization. The Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses is a head organization managing local branches of Jehovah’s Witnesses across Russia.
The Supreme Court’s judgment regarding the Justice Ministry’s motion is expected to be announced on April 5.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have had many legal problems in Russia.
On January 25, chairman of the Jehovah’s Witnesses branch in the town of Dzerzhinsk was fined 4,000 rubles ($67) for keeping and distributing extremist literature banned in Russia.
On October 12, 2015, a court in the Jewish Autonomous Region ruled to ban a branch of “The Jehovah’s Witnesses” in Birobidzhan because of distributing extremist literature by the organization.
On June 16, 2015, Russia’s Supreme Court declared “The Jehovah’s Witnesses of Stary Oskol” in the Belgorod Region an extremist organization and ruled to liquidate it.
On June 9, 2015, the Jehovah’s Witnesses of Belgorod was banned as extremist organization.
In March 2015, a court in Tyumen fined the organization 50,000 rubles ($792) and seized prohibited literature.
In January 2014, a court in Kurgan ruled to ban the organization’s booklets as extremist. The books talk about how to have a happy life, what you can hope for, how to develop good relations with God and what you should know about God and its meaning.
In late December 2013, the leader of the sect’s group in Tobolsk, Siberia was charged with extremism and the prevention of a blood transfusion that nearly led to the death of a female member of the group.
In 2004, a court in Moscow dissolved and banned a Jehovah’s Witnesses group on charges of recruiting children, encouraging believers to break from their families, inciting suicide and preventing believers from accepting medical assistance.
Jehovah's Witnesses is an international religious organization based in Brooklyn, New York. Since 2004 sever branches and chapters of the organization were banned and shut down in various regions of Russia.