Russia asks court to declare Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organisation

By prohibiting its members from taking blood transfusion, the Jehovah’s Witnesses as a group violates the law on resistance to extremism, the spokeswoman for Russia’s justice ministry told the supreme court on Thursday.

It was on the second day of the hearing.

“Checks have found that the organisation is in breach of the law on resistance to extremism. In particular, the organisation’s religious literature forbids blood transfusion for its members in defiance of the doctors’ recommendation,” the spokeswoman said, providing documentary evidence about one such case.

Also, the justice ministry official said Jehovah’s Witnesses insist on their own exclusiveness, which also contradicts the law on resistance to extremist activity.

“The religious organization Jehovah’s Witnesses has been repeatedly warned by courts of law, but it has taken no required measures to eliminate the violations,” the justice ministry said.

The justice ministry believes that Jehovah’s Witnesses must be outlawed and the organisation’s properties, including those of the 395 regional chapters, confiscated.

“In view of the threat posed by the organisation Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Justice Ministry asks for declaring it extremist and banning its activity,” the justice ministry’s official said.

In its lawsuit, the justice ministry mentions a variety of violations, including those of the federal law on resistance to extremist activities.

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ press-service has told TASS the organisation “finds this affair very worrisome, because the decision may affect 175,000 believers”.

Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman Ivan Bilenko said the organisation was prepared to press for its rights in any courts.

A court in Moscow on October 12, 2016, warned the administrative center of Jehovah’s Witnesses over extremist activities. It said that if the organisation failed to eliminate the exposed violations within the established deadlines, or if new evidence of its extremist activities surfaces, it would be closed down.

The Moscow city court on January 16 upheld the warning over extremist activities.

On Wednesday, when the Russian supreme court began hearing the justice ministry request for the outlaw of the movement, the movement filed a counterclaim demanding the court proclaim the ministry’s actions as political repression.

The court, however, rejected the request.

The supreme court decided that the counterclaim could not be reviewed during the session, as it was filed in an inappropriate court.

“The court ruled to reject the counterclaim taking into account the fact that the party violated the jurisdiction rules,” the judge announced.

The court also refused to let 395 local chapters of Jehovah’s Witnesses participate in the hearings.

Jehovah’s Witnesses had 21 local organisations but three of them were shut down for extremism.


Source: The Cable