Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Supreme Court bans Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia

Supreme Court bans Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia

According to Sputnik News, Judge Yuri Ivanenko said: 'The Supreme Court has ruled to sustain the claim of Russia's Ministry of Justice and deem the "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" organization extremist, eliminate it and ban its activity in Russian Federation'.

According to the Justice Ministry, since 2007, local courts have banned at least eight local Jehovah's Witnesses organizations, and 95 pieces of Jehovah's Witnesses' literature have been banned and placed on the federal registry of banned extremist materials.

The judge also ordered the seizure of all the property of Jehovah's Witnesses to "the state revenue".

A court in Moscow on October 12, 2016 warned Jehovahs Witnesses over what it ruled was extremist activities.

"I'm shocked", Yaroslav Sivulsky, who represents the group's administrative centre, told reporters.

The religious organisation has over 175,000 members in Russian Federation.

Under Russian law, the ban would not prohibit individual believers from following their creed, but congregating and proselytizing would become offenses punishable with up to five years in prison.

"Jehovah's Witnesses in Russian Federation are now given the heartrending choice of either abandoning their faith or facing punishment for practicing it".

The religious organization has expanded around the world and has about 8 million active followers.

The powerful Russian Orthodox Church has spoken out against the group, with one church official branding it a "destructive sect" last month.

Jehovah's Witnesses have received heavy criticism from mainstream Christianity, members of the medical community, ex-members and others regarding their beliefs and practices. They reject modern evolutionary theory and refuse blood transfusions.

Jehovah's Witnesses pray at a regional congress at Traktar Stadium in Minsk, Belarus, July 25, 2015.

The Moscow branch at the time had been accused of breaking up families, inciting its members to suicide and endangering their lives and health by not allowing its members to have blood transfusions.

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