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Religious Persecution in Russia

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Russia’s Supreme Court Begins High-Profile Case Against Jehovah’s Witnesses

NEW YORK—Today, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation began consideration of a claim from the Ministry of Justice to liquidate the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. The Court announced a recess, and the hearing will resume Thursday, April 6, 2017, at 2:00 p.m.

The Witnesses had filed a counterclaim with the Court on March 30, 2017, against the Ministry of Justice. Today, however, the counterclaim was dismissed by the Court prior to the recess of the hearing. The Court also refused to allow experts to testify about the basis for the claim of the Ministry of Justice and refused to allow those who witnessed the falsification of evidence against local religious organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses to testify.

The high-profile nature of the case is sparking coverage by international news outlets, including an article in Time magazine posted online on April 4 (“Russian Supreme Court Considers Outlawing Jehovah’s Witness Worship”) and a front-page article in the print edition of The New York Times (“Pacifist, Christian and Threatened by Russian Ban as ‘Extremist’”) on April 5.

“We certainly hope that Russia’s Supreme Court will uphold the rights of our fellow believers in Russia to freely carry out their peaceful worship,” adds David A. Semonian, a spokesman at the Witnesses’ world headquarters in New York. “Millions of people around the world will be watching carefully to see how the case progresses and if Russia acts to protect its own law-abiding citizens who are Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

https://www.jw.org/en/news/releases/by-region/russia/supreme-court-begins-case-against-jehovahs-witnesses/

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      12 Be glad in YHVH, you righteous ones,
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      “The Jehovah’s Witnesses are simply peacefully exercising their right to freedom of religion,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Jehovah’s Witness faith is not an extremist organization, and authorities should stop this religious persecution of its worshipers now.”
      Human Rights Watch interviewed four lawyers defending JehovahÂ’s Witnesses in five regions and a representative of the JehovahÂ’s Witnesses. Human Rights Watch also reviewed court documents, media reports, Russian government statements, and Federal Security Service (FSB) photos and videos purporting to show the raids.
      The raids and arrests stem from an April 2017 Russian Supreme Courtruling that banned all Jehovah’s Witnesses organizations throughout Russia. The ruling declared the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center, the head office for 395 Jehovah’s Witnesses branches throughout Russia, an extremist organization and ruled that all 395 be shut down. The ruling, which affects more than 100,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses across Russia, blatantly violates Russia’s obligations to respect and protect religious freedom and freedom of association.
      Russian authorities should reverse the ban on the organization’s activities and remove the “extremist” designation, Human Rights Watch said. Meanwhile, they should leave Jehovah’s Witnesses free to practice their faith.
      Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and other former USSR countries have faced persecution in the past. During the Soviet era, they were arrested and imprisoned in labor camps, including in Siberia. Within the past decade, worshipers across Russia have faced persecution, intrusive home searches, and arrests, and have been denied rights to freedom of assembly, association, and religion.
      In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Russia for closing the Moscow branch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and refusing to allow the group to re-register. The court found violations of articles 9 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protect freedom of religion and association, respectively. In addition to awarding monetary damages, the court said that Russia should review the domestic decisions that led to the violations. Russia has refused to carry out the judgments in that case and several others brought by members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. On the contrary, Russia has continued to persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses, seeking the group’s complete dissolution in Russia.
      From April to June 2018, law enforcement raids targeted Jehovah’s Witness communities in at least 11 regions throughout Russia, from Saratov region in southwestern Russia to Primorsky Krai in Russia’s far east. Police carried out the raids, often accompanied by a combination of FSB officials wearing masks, armed personnel of the Interior Ministry Special Task Police Force or National Guard, and representatives from the Investigative Committee, Russia’s criminal investigation service.  
      The authorities, who obtained search warrants or entry permits in most cases, confiscated personal computers, mobile phones, bank cards, passports, religious literature, and, in some cases, housing deeds. Dozens of JehovahÂ’s Witnesses, including at least one child, were taken to local investigative offices for questioning. Others were detained and later charged.
      A lawyer representing a Jehovah’s Witness who is in pretrial detention in Murmansk Region told Human Rights Watch that the authorities’ actions contradict religious freedom guarantees in the Russian Constitution. “The [Russian] constitution says that you can practice your faith together with others, but as it turns out, that’s a crime,” said Yegiazar Chernikov, of the Sverdlovsk Lawyers’ Association.
      In at least two regions, armed officers threatened the worshipers with firearms, in one case pointing a gun at a personÂ’s head, a lawyer familiar with the incident told Human Rights Watch.
      A JehovahÂ’s Witnesses representative told Human Rights Watch that approximately 160 JehovahÂ’s Witnesses have fled Russia to seek refuge abroad.
      On June 20, Russia’s Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights announced that it had asked the prosecutor general’s office to verify the legality of criminal prosecutions against Jehovah’s Witnesses practicing their faith. A week earlier, several of the spouses of the men in pretrial detention had sent a letter to the chair of the council, Mikhail Fedotov, urging him to ask President Vladimir Putin to end the raids and arrests and to restore freedom of religion in Russia.
      Over 150 Russian activists, journalists, and academics – including several members of Memorial, Russia’s foremost human rights group – signed and published an open letter urging the authorities to immediately release those in detention and to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision to liquidate the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organization.
      Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia – like all people in Russia – should be able to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of religion and association, Human Rights Watch said. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Russian Constitution as well as the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a party.
      Under international law, freedom of religion includes the freedom to practice one’s religion or belief both individually and in community with others, in public or in private, and through worship, practice, and teaching. Russia already has many rulings against it for its failure to respect the freedom of religion of faith communities and minority religious groups, such as the Church of Scientology, the Salvation Army, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses
      “Russia should do right by its national and international obligations to respect freedom of religion,” Denber said. “Russian leadership should make sure that law enforcement is honoring and protecting that right, not trampling on it.”
      Raids Aimed at Intimidation
      The Jehovah’s Witnesses are a peaceful religious community. The consistent show of force in raids in many locations in Russia was disproportionate and seemed aimed at sending a strong message of intimidation, Human Rights Watch said. 
      In most regions, the authorities arrested people they singled out as leaders and organizers of the local Jehovah’s Witnesses community for such actions as recruiting new members and distributing religious literature that the authorities label “extremist.”
      On May 16 in the Orenburg Region, in southwest Russia, law enforcement personnel searched 18 homes in four cities and charged nine people. Two are in pretrial custody and another is under house arrest.
      On May 17 in Birobidzhan, in southeast Russia, representatives of the Jehovah’s Witnesses reported that about 150 law enforcement personnel raided the homes of at least nine Jehovah’s Witnesses, confiscating photos, bank cards, money, and computers. An official reportedly saidthat the operation was code-named “Judgment Day.” One person was arrested and charged with organizing activities of an “extremist organization” but was released from pretrial detention eight days later.
      On April 18 in the town of Polyarny in the Murmansk Region, in northwest Russia, armed law enforcement agents raided at least seven homes and arrested two men. They took several others into custody for questioning and later released them. Police also took a 16-year-old girl into custody and questioned her at the local investigative unit for several hours. A video posted on the Murmansk Investigative Committee’s website shows men wearing camouflage uniforms and helmets forcing open a door to an apartment.
      The arrest and raid campaign took place as the trial of a Jehovah’s Witness who is a Danish citizen, Dennis Christensen, continues in Orel, a city in western Russia. Christensen, who was arrested in May 2017, is being tried on charges of organizing activities of an “extremist organization” and faces a maximum 10-year prison sentence if convicted. He has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rightsalleging, among other things, that his arrest constituted unlawful interference with his right to freedom of religion.
      Another Jehovah’s Witness in Orel, 55-year-old Sergei Skrynnikov, was charged on May 8, 2018, with participating in the activities of an “extremist organization.”
      A lawyer who is defending three Jehovah’s Witnesses in two regions said that throughout the past eight months, FSB agents in the Orenburg Region and the Republic of Bashkortostan conducted wiretapping, videotaping, and other surveillance of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activities – for which they said they had warrants – as part of the investigation. In some cases, the lawyer said, authorities placed recording devices in Jehovah’s Witnesses’ homes.
      Earlier in 2018, police raided more than two dozen JehovahÂ’s WitnessesÂ’ homes in Belgorod and Kemerovo. Two JehovahÂ’s Witnesses in Belgorod are facing extremism charges.
      Saratov and Shirokoe, Saratov Region
      On June 12, authorities in Saratov Region, southwestern Russia, raided at least seven homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Saratov and village of Shirokoe. According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, special forces officers broke down doors and confiscated computers, books, notebooks, photographs, bankbooks, and passports. The authorities took at least 10 people to FSB offices for questioning.
      Three were detained and charged with organizing activities of an “extremist organization.” They are: 43-year-old Konstantin Bazhenov, 35-year-old Aleksei Budenchuk, and 33-year-old Felix Makhammadiyev. On June 14, the Frunzensky District Court placed all three in pretrial detention until August 12.
      Tomsk, Tomsk Region
      Law enforcement raided several homes and cars belonging to Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tomsk between 10 a.m. on June 3 and about 2 a.m. the next day, the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia reported. Officers confiscated Bibles, mobile phones, tablets, computers, photographs, money, bank cards, and other personal possessions. They took about 30 people to the police anti-extremism center for questioning.
      According to a statement by the Tomsk Investigative Committee, the searches were part of a joint FSB and Internal Affairs Ministry investigation into meetings of Jehovah’s Witness residents in Tomsk. Investigative authorities allege that worshipers studied prohibited, “extremist” religious materials and carried out organized religious activities in violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling against the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center.
      Representatives of the Jehovah’s Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that 48-year-old Sergei Klimov was detained after a search of his home on June 3, was charged with organizing activities of an “extremist organization,” and will remain in pretrial detention until August 4.
      Magadan, Magadan Region
      The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia reported that on May 30, FSB and law enforcement officers arrested Konstantin Petrov, 31; Yevgeny Zyablov, 41; and Sergei Yerkin, 61, after searching their homes in the city of Magadan (Magadan Region). On the same day, authorities in Khabarovsk (Khabarovsky Krai) detained Ivan Puyda, 39, based on a court order from Magadan. All four are accused of organizing activities of an “extremist organization” and will remain in pretrial detention until July 29.
      Naberezhnye Chelny, Republic of Tatarstan
      Police and FSB officials searched the homes of 10 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Naberezhnye Chelny, in south-central Russia, on the evening of May 27. The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia reported that the searches lasted “well into the night.”
      Investigators arrested Ilham Karimov, 37; Vladimir Myakushin, 30; Konstantin Matrashov, 25;   Aydar Yulmetyev, 24, on suspicion of organizing and participating in the activities of an “extremist organization” and placed them in pretrial detention until July 25. The Naberezhnye Chelny City Court displays records of all four hearings. According to the religious freedom monitoring group Forum 18, Karimov, Myakushin, and Matrashov have appealed their pretrial detention.
      Perm, Perm Krai
      The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia reported that on the evening of May 22, Aleksandr Solovyev, 48, and his wife, Anna, were detained at the railway station in Perm, in the Ural Mountains region, after returning from a trip abroad. Law enforcement then searched the couple’s home and reportedly seized property deeds, photographs, several Bibles, and a Wi-Fi router.
      Anna was released, but her husband was held for two days. He was released on May 24, and the Sverdlovsk District Court ordered him confined to house arrest. According to Forum 18, he is being investigated on charges of participating in the activities of an “extremist organization.”
      Before the 2017 Supreme Court ruling banning the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center, Solovyov chaired the Perm Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation, according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia website.
      Birobidzhan, Jewish Autonomous Region
      On May 17 in Birobidzhan, southeast Russia, police raided the homes of at least nine Jehovah’s Witnesses. The raids were carried out by approximately 150 law enforcement officers. An official reportedly saidthat the operation was code-named “Judgment Day.”
      On May 18, 55-year-old Alam Aliev was placed in pretrial detention until July 13 under suspicion of organizing activities of an “extremist organization.” The FSB stated that its request to detain Aliev “was motivated by the fact that the crime is classified as grave” and because “[t]he suspect may impede the criminal proceedings, put pressure on witnesses, and also evade investigative and judicial authorities.” Following an appeal by Aliev’s lawyer, Aliev was released from detention on May 25 but still faces charges.
      Orenburg, Orenburg Region
      On May 16 in Orenburg Region, Investigative Committee authorities, FSB officials, and armed National Guard officers searched 18 homes in four cities. Vitaly Svintsov, a lawyer representing two Jehovah’s Witnesses in the region, told Human Rights Watch that nine people were charged with organizing or participating in the activities of an “extremist organization.” Two of them, Aleksandr Suvorov and Vladimir Kochnev, both 38, remain in pretrial custody until July 14. Twenty-six-year-old Vladislav Kolbanov remains under house arrest. The other six remain under travel restrictions while the investigation is ongoing, Svintsov said.
      Photographs of some of the raids posted on the Orenburg Investigative Committee website show FSB officials and riot police in bulletproof vests and masks approaching Jehovah’s Witnesses’ residences.
      A statement by the Orenburg Investigative Committee said that investigative operations were “carefully planned and organized” by law enforcement with the aim of “seizing documents and items relevant to the criminal case, as well as identifying other persons involved in unlawful activities.” Investigators allege that the suspects “organized activities of a subdivision of Jehovah’s Witnesses [Administrative Center] by calling and holding meetings, organizing the recruitment of new members, and communicating the contents of religious literature to meeting participants.”
      Shuya, Ivanovo Region
      Forum 18 reported that law enforcement raided four homes in the town of Shuya, western Russia, early on the morning of April 20.
      Dmitry Mikhailov, 33, was arrested on May 29, over a month after his home was searched and placed in pretrial custody until July 19. He is being accused of “financing extremist activities.”  
      On April 20, the Ivanovo Region Investigative Committee released a statement about the home searches, alleging that since the beginning of 2018, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Shuya had been studying literature “containing statements degrading human dignity . . . and elements of propaganda of the exclusivity of one religion over another.”
      Vladivostok, Primorsky Krai
      Several homes belonging to Jehovah’s Witnesses were reportedly raidedon April 19 in the far-east city of Vladivostok.
      Human Rights Watch was able to confirm that on April 23 Valentin Osadchuk, 42, was placed under arrest by Frunzensky District Court on charges of participation in the activities of an “extremist organization” after authorities searched his home and confiscated computers, notebooks, and other devices. He remains in pretrial detention until September 20. Representatives of the Jehovah’s Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that five others face the same charges but remain at liberty subject to travel restrictions.
      Polyarny, Murmansk Region
      On the evening of April 18 in the town of Polyarny in the Murmansk region, armed law enforcement raided at least seven homes and arrested two JehovahÂ’s Witnesses, Roman Markin, 44, and Viktor Tifimov, 61. Others whose homes were searched were taken to the local investigative unit for questioning and later released without charge.
      The Murmansk Region Investigative Committee stated on its websitethat National Guard officers and FSB officials who led the home searches confiscated computer drives and religious literature. A video posted to the website shows men wearing camouflage uniforms and helmets forcing open a door with a pry bar. The Investigative Committee said that beginning in April 2017, the suspects had allegedly “organized activities of the religious organization [Jehovah’s Witnesses] by convening and holding meetings, organizing the recruitment of new members, and leading studies of religious texts at meetings.”
      MarkinÂ’s lawyer, Arli Chimirov, told Human Rights Watch that armed officers broke down MarkinÂ’s door and told him and his 16-year-old daughter, who was at home with him, to lie on the floor while law enforcement threatened them with firearms and searched the apartment. MarkinÂ’s daughter was escorted to the investigative unit and was questioned for several hours along with her mother, who arrived some time later.
      On April 23, 2018, the Polyarny District Court placed Markin in pretrial custody until June 11. Markin’s lawyer unsuccessfully appealed the decision. According to court documents on file with Human Rights Watch, investigative authorities requested that Markin be placed in pretrial detention because of the risk that he “may continue criminal activities, threaten participants in the legal proceedings, hide or destroy evidence, and also fail to attend preliminary court hearings.” On June 4, Markin’s pretrial detention was extended to October 11.
      TifimovÂ’s lawyer, Yegiazar Chernikov, told Human Rights Watch that beginning in October 2017, investigators had been collecting as evidence audio and video recordings of conversations among JehovahÂ’s Witnesses. Chernikov said that on several occasions, a woman involved in the investigation invited Tifimov to her home, where audio and video recording devices were in place, and asked him questions given to her by investigative authorities and designed to incriminate him.
      Tifimov was originally detained until June 12, 2018, but his pretrial detention was extended until October 11.
      Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan
      The religious freedom group Forum 18 reported that approximately 60 law enforcement officers, some of them armed, raided eight homes in the city of Ufa, south-central Russia, on the morning of April 10. Investigators confiscated personal belongings, books, and photographs. The lawyer representing one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who was detained said that authorities threatened worshipers with weapons, in one case holding an automatic weapon to a person’s head.
      At least 20 people were reportedly taken to the Lenin District Investigative Department for questioning and fingerprinting but were later released. One girl was called for questioning, but when she showed up for the meeting with her mother and the director of her school, the investigator failed to appear.
      On April 12, Anatoly Vilikevich, 32, was arrested on suspicion of organizing activities of an “extremist organization,” and placed in pretrial detention. Vilikevich’s lawyer, Vitaly Svintsov, who appealed the order, told Human Rights Watch that on June 21 the Supreme Court of Bashkortostan overturned the lower court’s decision and placed him under house arrest.
      A statement by the Bashkortostan Republic Investigative Committeealleged that Vilikevich had organized a local chapter of the banned Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center. Investigators who searched his home confiscated “prohibited literature,” the statement said.

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      Since 2007, dozens of pieces of JehovahÂ’s WitnessesÂ’ literature have been banned and placed on the federal registry of banned extremist materials. Pictured here, stacks of booklets distributed by a local leader of a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation in the Siberian town of Gorno-Altaysk are seen during a court session on December 16, 2010.
       ©2010 Reuters/Alexandr Tyryshkin
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Officials from the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization say Russian law-enforcement officers have carried out “mass searches” on members’ homes in the Urals region of Orenburg and in the Far Eastern city of Birobidzhan.
      Jarrod Lopes, a spokesman for the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York, on May 17 said 150 law-enforcement personnel raided more than 20 adherents’ homes in Birobidzhan, the capital of Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region.
      The raids came after searches had been carried out on May 16 in the Orenburg region near the border with Kazakhstan in which 18 Jehovah’s Witnesses were questioned and three were taken into custody, Lopes said.
      The spokesman said a criminal case had been initiated against an adherent of the Christian sect, Alam Aliyev, and that a trial was expected on May 18.
      Russia’s Supreme Court in July 2017 upheld a ruling that the Jehovah’s Witnesses should be considered an extremist organization, effectively banning the denomination from the country.
      The original ruling, issued in April 2017, was the first time an entire registered religious organization had been prohibited under Russian law.
      Long viewed with suspicion in Russia for their positions on military service, voting, and government authority in general, the Jehovah’s Witnesses -- which claim some 170,000 adherents in Russia and 8 million worldwide -- are among several denominations that have come under increasing pressure in recent years.
      The sect began operating in Russia and across the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
      Russia's treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses has raised concerns from governments and religious organizations in the West.
      “The treatment of the Jehovah’s Witnesses reflects the Russian government’s tendency to view all independent religious activity as a threat to its control and the country’s political stability,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said after the Supreme Court ruling last year.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Polls conducted by ABC News and The Washington Post revealed 36 percent of U.S. respondents in 2017 term themselves as Protestant faith members. A sharp drop from 2003's 50 percent. The statistics include a drop of eight points in evangelical white Protestant numbers. The number of Christians all in all has mirrored the predicament of Protestants. From the 83 percent of 2003 to 72 percent in 2017, the declining numbers are in stark contrast to the section of the U.S. population responding with “no religion” which have almost doubled to 21 percent. Self-identification of Catholics at 22 percent remain constant during this time. The number of adults who identify with other strands of Christianity like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses went up marginally, from 11 percent to 14 percent. Trends are more pronounced among the American youth; only 19 percent of all adults under 30 years of age in 2003 claimed to have no religion. In 2017, that percent went up to 35 percent. These figures can be compared with the 22 percent who term themselves to be affiliated with any kind of Protestantism. These figures are significant as they denote a perceptible shift in power.

      Read more at World Religion News: "Sharp Drop in White Evangelicals in U.S." https://www.worldreligionnews.com/?p=51977

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    • By James Thomas Rook Jr.
      FSB starts detaining Jehovah’s Witnesses on Kola, dozens flee to Finland
      Criminal cases are initiated after FSB and Rosgvardia raided six addresses in the closed navy town of Polyarny.
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      April 20, 2018
      Last April, a ruling by Russia’s Supreme Court banned all Jehovah’s Witnesses organizations throughout the country, arguing the religious group to be extremist.
      On Friday, Murmansk regional authorities’ newspaper Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. reports about raids made by FSB and the National Guard of Russia (Rosgvardia) in Polyarny on the Kola Peninsula.
       
      Two local residents were detained under suspicions of being members of the administrative centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, organizing teaching and meetings where reading of banned religious literature took place. Searches were carried out at six addresses in Polyarny.  
       
      The town is home to a naval yard and several of the diesel-powered submarines and other warships of the Northern Fleet have Polyarny as homeport.
       
      The extremist law banning Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia provides for a maximum sentences of 6 to 10 years in jail.
      Meanwhile, a wave of practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses are fleeing Russia. More than a thousand people are now seeking asylum in several European countries, including Finland, the newspaper Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. reported earlier this winter.
       
      It all started last summer, and that’s when the first Witnesses sought asylum in Finland, spokesperson Veikko Leininen with the organization’s Finnish branch told the newspaper.  Many dozens at least are still to come, he said.
      Press adviser Therese Bergwitz-Larsen with the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) can’t go into details about particular reasons for asylum seekers coming to Norway.
      Unfortunately, we can’t say anything in general on the background for reasons to apply for asylum, since the number [from Russia] is so small, Bergwitz-Larsen tells the Barents Observer.
      Statistics from UDI show that 15 persons came from Russia the Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. this year. In Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. , 58 Russian asylum seekers came to Norway.
      In Russia, the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses are estimated to about 175,000. That be, before the organization was declared extremist. Viewed with skepticism for denying military service, voting and refusal to take blood, the members are seen as both a threat to themselves, their children and public safety.
      Also during Soviet times, the Witnesses were persecuted.   
      Human Right Watch recently called on Russian authorities to drop charges against Danish citizen Dennis Christensen adherent for practicing his faith. Christensen has been in pretrial custody for 11 months in the town of Orel. Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. argues that Russia is a member of Council of Europe and  a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, and therefore is obligated to protect the rights to freedom of religion and association.
      My note: Russia passed a law in 2015 that basically stated that any CE or ECHR resolution or ruling they disagreed with could be ignored. I think it is a very good idea when governments start rounding up people for gas chambers, concentration or slave labor camps, or prison ... just be somewhere else.
      You may have to abandon everything you and your family ever worked for, with the clothes on your back, but at least when they upholster the living room furniture you left behind ... it won't be with YOUR SKIN.
       
       
       
    • By Anna
      The God delusion- are Jehovah's Witnesses the exception?
      Religion seems to be more divisive and destructive than any other belief system. Why does the belief in a superhuman power bear such "rotten fruit"? 
      Each religion claims they are the one and only true religion. Is there such a thing as the only true Religion, and one that actually bears "good fruit"?
      Please watch the documentary below and feel free to share any observations you might have, or comment on the problem of religion and belief you have identified and/or the areas where Jehovah's Witnesses differ....etc.
      At the end of the video Dawkins asks imploringly, appealing to our sense of gratitude: “People sometimes say there must be more to this life....but how much more do you want”?
      I guess you can present that question to someone who was born in poverty and disease, and has no way out. Or you can ask someone who has been diagnosed with a fatal illness and has no way of getting better. Or you can ask someone who has lost loved ones who cannot be brought back.  I am sure they would tell you they wished for more.....  
       
       
    • By The Librarian
      Belote Dage - Is There a True Religion From Gods Standpoint.mp3
      Agape!
      @The Librarian
    • By The Librarian
      Sinutko Charles - Bearing Up Under Persecution.mp3
       
       
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Copia_de_1951_(1953)_-_¿Qué_ha_hecho_la_religión_para_la_humanidad.pdf
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      La lujosa iglesia de $20 millones de dólares que construía en El Bronx, el pastor Amaurys Mella, hallado muerto en un río la semana pasada. (Fotos vía facebook)
      EL NUEVO DIARIO, NUEVA YORK._ El pastor dominicano Amaurys Mella, de 61 años de edad y cuyo cadáver fue encontrado en un río de el Bronx la semana pasada, completamente vestido, construía una suntuosa iglesia con una inversión de $20 millones de dólares en ese condado.
      Mella, quien era líder de la iglesia “Dando a Conocer a Cristo”,  había sido acusado por los padres de una adolescente de 17 años de edad en 2014, de haberle “seducido”, se destacaba por los lujos que lo rodeaban y se transportaba en un carro deportivo último modelo.
      También vestía impecablemente.
      Su congregación cuenta con más de 500 feligreses activos, que según una fuente cercana, aportaron millares de dólares para la construcción del templo.
      Acorde con la maqueta, publicada hace unos meses en su página facebook, Mella mostraba una iglesia que supera en estructura, espacio, modernidad y lujos a los templos de la Iglesia Universal, los mormones, Testigos de Jehová, adventistas  y otros templos de gran inversión económica.
      Hasta el momento, la Oficina del Médico Forense de la ciudad, no ha entregado los resultados de la autopsia.
      La congregación de Mella, es parte de la Organización de Ministros Cristianos, que lidera el reverendo y senador estatal Rubén  Díaz (padre), quien se negó ayer a responder preguntas de este reportero sobre el desenlace de la muerte de Mella.
      Díaz, que un día después de ser hallado el pastor en el río, se explayó en el tema, dijo que ya no quiere seguir tocándolo y remitió a este reportero a comunicarse con el co-pastor de la iglesia y hablar con los feligreses.
      Pero numerosas llamadas hechas a la congregación, no han sido respondidas desde la iglesia que pastoreaba Mella.
      Tras su muerte, se dijo que hay preocupación entre sus fieles por el curso que tomará ahora la construcción de la lujosa iglesia en El Bronx.
      No se ha confirmado si la policía mantiene una investigación respecto a la muerte del pastor, debido a que la feligresía descarta el suicidio.

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    • By Outta Here
      Cant see this under Russian news yet:

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    • Guest Nicole
    • By jenjsings
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    • By Ronny Stoyan
      Ich habe seit kurzem einen Blog zu Kultur , Wissenschaft und Religion gestartet. Die Schwerpunktfrage im weltanschaulichen Kontext soll hier lauten: Ist die Beschränkung der Wissenschaft auch eine Beschränkung der Realität, oder gibt es jenseits des Empirismus eine Realität die wir Gott nennen?
      „Die Wissenschaft fängt eigentlich da an, interessant zu werden, wo sie aufhört.“
      Justus von Liebig (1803–1873)
       

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      An appeal against a ban of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia has been set by the country’s Supreme Court for July 17. The liquidation of the Christian denomination’s 395 local religious chapters in the country was put in place by Russia’s justice ministry in March and upheld by the country’s Supreme Court on April 20. After receiving the court’s written decision, the group launched an appeal a month later.
      The Supreme Court accepted the justice ministry’s verdict that Jehovah’s Witnesses violated Russia’s anti-extremism law, putting it into the same category as organizations like the Islamic State group (ISIS). Among the arguments used in the court hearing were that Jehovah’s Witnesses' belief in refusing blood transfusions made it extremist. That stance has been credited with encouraging doctors to develop less risky alternatives to using blood.
      The group has alleged that it was prohibited from mounting a real defense in the Supreme Court case. Notably, it criticized the judge for refusing to hear evidence concerning bans of its local religious chapters.
      “The basis for the liquidation of our organization’s center was totally based on the ban of local religious organizations,” Yaroslav Sivulskiy, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, told Newsweek recently. “All cases were fabricated and on that fabricated evidence now you want to ban the whole religion in Russia? How is it not connected to the case?”
      A big part of the appeal will rest on trying to get that evidence heard, Sivulskiy added.
      Participants attend a hearing on the justice ministry request to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses at Russia's Supreme Court in Moscow on April 20.VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
      Yet the group, which has operated in the country since 1991 and counts 175,000 members among its ranks, has said it does not hold out much hope that the decision will be overturned.
      “Very, very little [hope],” Sivulskiy said. “Usually the court decision is upheld in most cases. There’s little hope. We have some hope of course. It’s clear that there is no case from the ministry of justice’s side. But from our side, it is well based on law, with solid arguments.”
      The ban, Sivulskiy suggested, was not based on the interpretation of the court, but on a decision that goes right to the top of Russia’s government and President Vladimir Putin.
      “It’s not this court, it’s not about justice, it’s not about a fair court hearing because even everyone who observed it said we won already, but even so we lost,” he said. “We have no big hope for the next level, only if some political wind will change somehow.”
      Speaking after the Supreme Court decision, the chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Thomas J. Reese, told Newsweek that it represented the “paranoia” in the Russian government.
      Since the decision, Jehovah's Witnesses have reported being harassed by police, while a Danish citizen was arrested after taking part in a private worship service and faces up to 10 years in prison.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      MOSCOW, May 26 (RAPSI) – The Supreme Court of Russia has upheld a ruling declaring a branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization in Cherkessk extremist and liquidating it, RAPSI learnt in the courtroom on Friday.
      The court has dismissed an appeal against the February 10 ruling of the Supreme Court of the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic. In addition to the organization’s declared extremist status and it liquidation, its real estate property was ruled to be transferred to the state. On Friday, this ruling came into force.
      On April 20, Russia’s Supreme Court banned the Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses as extremist organization. According to the ruling, the Centre and its local branches are to be liquidated.
      The Justice Ministry said that violations of the law “On Combatting Extremism” had been revealed during inspection conducted in the organization. The Prosecutor General’s Office’s notice concerning inadmissibility of carrying out extremist activities by Jehovah's Witnesses has taken effect, the Ministry said.
      Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization has had many legal problems in Russia. Since 2009, 95 materials distributed by the organization in the country have been declared extremist and 8 Jehovah's Witnesses’ branches have been liquidated, according to the Justice Ministry.
      Jehovah's Witnesses is an international religious organization based in Brooklyn, New York. Since 2004 several branches and chapters of the organization were banned and shut down in various regions of Russia.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      "Los terroristas no veneran a Dios. Veneran la muerte", ha declarado el presidente de Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, en la cumbre árabe-islámica-estadounidense en Riad.

      Donald Trump ofrece un discurso en la cumbre árabe-islámica-estadounidense en Riad, Arabia Saudita, el 21 de mayo de 2017.
      Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
      Un día después de llegar a Arabia Saudita, este domingo el mandatario de Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, ofrece un discurso en la cumbre árabe-islámica-estadounidense en Riad. Durante su primer viaje al extranjero en el cargo actual, el presidente estadounidense busca "fortalecer antiguas amistades de EE.UU. y buscar nuevos socios para lograr la paz". "EE.UU. no buscará imponer su estilo de vida a otros, sino tender manos con espíritu de cooperación y confianza", ha asegurado.
      Trump ha declarado que EE.UU. aboga por la creación de una "coalición de naciones" en Oriente Medio, con el fin de "erradicar el extremismo". Ha calificado la lucha contra los extremistas como una "batalla entre el bien y el mal" y ha precisado que combatir al terrorismo "no es una batalla entre diferentes creencias, diferentes sectas o diferentes civilizaciones", sino "una batalla entre quienes buscan aniquilar la vida humana y quienes buscan protegerla".
      "Los terroristas no veneran a Dios. Veneran la muerte", ha destacado. También ha recordado que "el 95 % de las víctimas de los ataques terroristas son los propios musulmanes", en su mayoría, "inocentes de naciones árabes, musulmanas y de Oriente Medio".
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