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  1. The Russian Defense Ministry says the US missile strike on a Syrian airfield wasn't very effective, with only 23 out of 59 Tomahawk missiles reaching their target. The locations of the remaining 36 missiles’ impact is now unknown, the ministry added.
  2. Local Jehovah's Witnesses Defend Brothers, Sisters In Russia CapeNews.net - ‎Apr 7, 2017‎ “It is my understanding that the laws of the Russian government guarantee freedom of religion to all citizens. Jehovah's Witnesses strive to be good citizens,” Mariah's letter states. It continues and asks that the official consider God's word before ... Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia v. in the US Religion News Service - ‎Apr 7, 2017‎ The Jehovah's Witnesses have been on trial in St. Petersburg this week for violating a Russian law against extremism. The alleged extremism includes refusing blood transfusions, publishing pamphlets critical Russian Orthodox Church, and undermining ... Russia Supreme Court considers ban on Jehovah's Witnesses Fox News - ‎Apr 6, 2017‎ MOSCOW – State news agency RIA Novosti says Russia's Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the city court in Birobidzhan to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses, a decision that comes amid proceedings on a Justice Ministry suit to ban the religious ... Russia: Jehovah's Witnesses Break Law by Refusing Blood Transfusions Newsweek - ‎Apr 6, 2017‎ Jehovah's Witnesses break the law forbidding “extremism” when its members refuse blood transfusions, Russia's Justice Ministry said Thursday at a Supreme Court hearing on the question of banning the religious group in the country. The ministry added ... Russia Moves To Label Jehovah's Witnesses As 'Extremists' Huffington Post - ‎Apr 5, 2017‎ The Justice Ministry in Moscow has been investigating the Jehovah's Witnesses' Russian headquarters near St. Petersburg over the last year and claimed it discovered violations of a Russian law banning extremism. The ministry accused the organization of ... Russian Supreme Court Considers Outlawing Jehovah's Witness Worship TIME - ‎Apr 4, 2017‎ The Russian Supreme Court could declare the Jehovah's Witnesses an extremist organization in a Wednesday hearing, a move that would lead to the seizure of the church's headquarters near St. Petersburg and the outlawing of the group's organized ... Russia Moves to Ban Jehovah's Witnesses as 'Extremist' New York Times - ‎Apr 4, 2017‎ The Justice Ministry, in a preliminary adminstrative strike last month, put the headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, an office complex near St. Petersburg, on a list of the bodies banned “in connection with the carrying out of extremist ... Russian court mulls Jehovah's Witnesses ban Fox News - ‎Apr 5, 2017‎ Russia's Supreme Court began a hearing Wednesday to potentially ban the Jehovah's Witnesses and declare the group an extremist organization in the country. The Russian government filed a lawsuit on March 16 to outlaw the Christian-based movement. Proceedings on Ban on Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia Enters Day 3 World Religion News - ‎Apr 7, 2017‎ Crowd forms outside of Russian Supreme Court in Moscow. The court is considering a claim from the Ministry of Justice to liquidate the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. Courtesy of Jehovah's Witnesses. Russia's Supreme Court to consider Jehovah's Witnesses ban Atlanta Journal Constitution - ‎Apr 5, 2017‎ According to a New York Times report, the religious group is viewed by the Russian government as deviating too far from traditional norms that President Vladimir Putin has promoted. Jehovah's Witnesses do not vote or otherwise participate in politics ... Russia court considers Jehovah's Witnesses ban BBC News - ‎Apr 5, 2017‎ Russia's Supreme Court has begun hearing a government request to outlaw the Jehovah's Witnesses and declare it an extremist organisation. The justice ministry has already placed its headquarters near St Petersburg on a list of extremist groups. Russia Continues Proceedings on Jehovah's Witnesses in Supreme Court Thursday World Religion News - ‎Apr 6, 2017‎ 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 ... Spokane-area Jehovah's Witnesses wait anxiously for Russian court ruling The Spokesman-Review - ‎Apr 5, 2017‎ Russia's Justice Ministry filed a case with the Supreme Court to declare the administrative center for Russia's Jehovah's Witnesses an extremist organization on March 15. The court reviewed the case for about seven hours Wednesday before announcing a ... US: Russia's Ban of Jehovah's Witnesses as 'Extremist' Shows that Moscow Views All Independent Religions as a Threat Newsweek - ‎Apr 4, 2017‎ The Russian justice ministry's call for the country's Jehovah's Witnesses headquarters to be shut down represents an attempt to “eliminate the legal existence” of the religion, said the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Russian Government Seeks to Ban Jehovah's Witnesses Voice of America - ‎Apr 3, 2017‎ Several U.S. legislators have criticized the Russian government for plans to effectively ban the Jehovah's Witnesses, a nontraditional Christian movement, as an "extremist" organization. On March 15, Russia's Justice Ministry filed a claim with the ... Russia launches court bid to ban Jehovah's Witnesses over 'extremism' Evening Standard - ‎Apr 6, 2017‎ Russia's government has launched a Supreme Court bid to outlaw Jehovah's Witnesses and have the movement declared an extremist organisation. The Christian-based faith group's headquarters, near St Petersburg, has already been added to a list of ... Jehovah's Witnesses Face Russian Ban Transitions Online - ‎Apr 7, 2017‎ Jehovah's Witnesses are breaking the law against extremism when they refuse blood transfusions, a Russian Justice Ministry official said yesterday as the Supreme Court heard arguments that could see the religious group banned. The court began hearings ... Russia top court hears bid to outlaw Jehovah's Witnesses JURIST - ‎Apr 7, 2017‎ [JURIST] The Russian Supreme Court [official website, in Russian] began hearings on Wednesday on a request [RAPSI report] to outlaw the Jehovah's Witnesses religious group. The Russian Ministry of Justice [official website, in Russian] has named the ... RUSSIA: Russia Suspends Jehovah's Witnesses United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (press release) - ‎Apr 4, 2017‎ Washington, D.C. – Russia's Justice Ministry suspended the Jehovah's Witnesses on March 24, alleging that its activities “violate Russia's laws on combating extremism.” The Russian authorities have used their extremism law to systematically harass the ... Jehovah Witnesses here worried over Russian court ruling Barbados Today - ‎Apr 6, 2017‎ Members of the Jehovah's Witnesses faith here have expressed concern about the plight of fellow Witnesses in Russia, which is seeking to ban the religious organization altogether. Russia's Supreme Court Thursday upheld the decision of a Russian city to ... Russian court considers ban on Jehovah's Witnesses SBS - ‎Apr 6, 2017‎ Russia's Supreme Court has rejected a counter claim filed by Jehovah's Witnesses who are challenging a Justice Ministry order to cease operating in the country. The religious organisation had asked the court to declare the government's actions unlawful ... Russia's high court considers banning Jehovah's Witnesses UPI.com - ‎Apr 5, 2017‎ April 5 (UPI) -- Russia's Supreme Court on Wednesday considered a request by the government to ban Jehovah's Witnesses and declare the Christian group an extremist organization. On March 16, the Russian government filed suit to outlaw the organization ... Russia may ban Jehovah's Witnesses Catholic Culture - ‎Apr 6, 2017‎ “The Russian government is claiming that the Jehovah's Witnesses are an extremist group, but in fact it's their move to ban them outright that appears to be extreme,” said Maina Kiai, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of ... Russia Jehovah's Witnesses Could Be Labeled Extremist, Worship Banned Newsmax - ‎Apr 4, 2017‎ Russia's Supreme Court may declare Jehovah's Witnesses an extremist organization at a hearing Wednesday, which means the Jehovah's Witnesses headquarters would be seized and their organized worship banned in the country. "If the Supreme Court ... UN experts voice concern over possible ban on Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia TASS - ‎Apr 4, 2017‎ GENEVA, April 4. /TASS/. A total of three rapporteurs of the UN on human rights have said the moves taken by the Russian authorities to declare the Jehovah's Witnesses Administrative Center in Russia an extremist organization are "extremely worrying ... RUSSIA: Police harassment as Supreme Court considers ban Forum 18 - ‎Apr 7, 2017‎ 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 ... High-Profile Case Against Jehovah's Witnesses Started Today in Russia's Supreme Court World Religion News - ‎Apr 5, 2017‎ On March 24, 2017, Russia's Ministry of Justice suspended Jehovah's Witnesses with the allegation that their religious activities are in violation of Russian law and fighting extremism. The Russian government, under the authority of their extremism law ... Russian court turns down Jehovah's Witnesses' bid for 'victim of repression' status TASS - ‎Apr 5, 2017‎ Earlier in the day, the Russian Supreme Court began hearings on the Justice Ministry's appeal to ban the activities of the Jehovah's Witnesses Managerial Center in Russia as extremist. Jehovah's Witnesses filed a counterclaim demanding to recognize the ... Russia Moves To Ban Jehovah's Witnesses 360Nobs.com - ‎Apr 6, 2017‎ The Supreme Court in Russia has begun hearing a government request to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses and declare it an extremist organisation. BBC reports that the justice ministry has already placed its headquarters near St Petersburg on a list of ... Russia's Supreme Court Begins High-Profile Case Against Jehovah's Witnesses PR Newswire (press release) - ‎Apr 5, 2017‎ NEW YORK, April 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 ...
  3. Tribunal russo julga proibição das Testemunhas de Jeová no país; acompanhe. Por: Nellysson Silva 07/04/2017 - 08:02/ Editado em 07/04/2017 - 08:47 Reprodução / JW Está acontecendo o julgamento pelo Supremo Tribunal da Rússia referente a suspensão das atividades religiosas das Testemunhas de Jeová. Segundo o governo russo, as práticas são consideradas extremistas. A audiência que teve início no dia 05 de abril, foi suspensa hoje até o próximo dia 12, às 10h00. "As Testemunhas de Jeová violam a lei que proíbe o "extremismo" quando seus membros se recusam a receber transfusões de sangue", disse o Ministério da Justiça da Rússia nesta quinta-feira em uma audiência da Suprema Corte sobre a questão da proibição do grupo religioso no país. O ministério acrescentou que se a organização for proscrita, seus membros poderiam ser processados individualmente pelo extremismo. Os seguidores acreditam que a Bíblia proíbe a ingestão de sangue e assim se recusam a permitir transfusões de sangue ou doações. Numa sessão do Supremo Tribunal na última quinta-feira, um porta-voz do Ministério da Justiça argumentou que a posição significava que a organização violou a lei anti-extremismo que foi aprovada após a segunda guerra da Rússia na Chechênia em 1999 e 2000 e os ataques terroristas de 11 de setembro de 2001 nos Estados Unidos. O grupo tinha sido advertido em março de 2016 de que poderia ser banido se mais evidências do suposto extremismo fossem encontradas nos 12 meses seguintes. "A organização religiosa Testemunhas de Jeová tem sido repetidamente avisada pelos tribunais, mas não tomou medidas necessárias para eliminar as violações", disse a porta-voz do Ministério da Justiça. Representantes das Testemunhas de Jeová negaram firmemente as acusações contra eles, argumentando que "o extremismo é profundamente estranho às crenças e moralidade baseadas na Bíblia" dos membros da fé. A Comissão dos Estados Unidos para a Liberdade Religiosa Internacional (USCIRF) disse na quarta-feira que a decisão do Ministério da Justiça "reflete a tendência do governo russo de considerar todas as atividades religiosas independentes como uma ameaça ao seu controle e a estabilidade política do país". O grupo foi fundado nos Estados Unidos no final do século 19, e durante o reinado de terror de Joseph Stalin na União Soviética, foi proibido e milhares de membros foram deportados para a Sibéria. Outros grupos cristãos também foram perseguidos. Quando a União Soviética entrou em colapso, houve um ressurgimento do cristianismo na Rússia e a proibição das Testemunhas de Jeová foi levantada em 1991. Entenda o caso: O Centro de Direção das Testemunhas de Jeová na Rússia foi incluído na lista de organizações não governamentais e religiosas que foram suspensas por extremismo, informação dada através de um comunicado do Ministério. A organização é acusada em todos os processos de espalhar pelo país literatura religiosa de caráter extremista. Ivan Belenko, porta-voz das Testemunhas de Jeová na Rússia, fez uma denuncia à Agência Efe de que esta decisão vai contra o direito à liberdade ao culto dos mais de 175 mil seguidores da comunidade no país. "Todas as decisões judiciais contra nós se baseiam em uma única acusação: que alguns de nossos livros e discursos estão na lista de literatura extremista que existe neste país", explicou Belenko. O porta-voz ainda explicou que, a inclusão de algumas literaturas da organização na lista negra "foram tomadas com base em opiniões de falsos especialistas e sentenças judiciais ditadas às costas dos crentes". Se você deseja acompanhar o julgamento ao vivo, basta CLICAR AQUI. Ative a função de tradução do seu navegador. http://www.1news.com.br/noticia/10906/religiao/julgamento-das-testemunhas-de-jeova-na-russia-acompanhe-ao-vivo-07042017
  4. Threat of international tension over Jehovah's Witnesses case NOW TRUMP MAY BE ANGERED BY "PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS" IN RUSSIA Izvestiia, 7 April 2017 If the Russian response to the missile attack of the USA in Syria becomes a military-political game on steroids, then the subterfuge of the new confrontation inevitably will touch the topic of so-called "spiritual security" that is sensitive for our country. Passions have been inflamed over the lawsuit of the Russian Ministry of Justice for the liquidation of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses. In response, the movement rolled out a worldwide campaign #stopjwban, an appeal to put pressure on Russia so that the authorities would abandon their claim on the religious organization, known for their active evangelism. Year after year the Jehovah's Witnesses consistently wind up in reports of the USA State Department about recognition of freedom of conscience in various countries. Sometimes these charges bypass the ears, but in moments of international tension they are recalled. Our average persons consider Jehovists an "alien sect," in opposition to the traditional—Orthodox—Christianity. But the representatives of the movement themselves stress that the attacks are directly against a movement that spreads biblical teaching. The recent seizure of a batch of Bibles, which "did not correspond" with the synodal edition, was bad for Russia's reputation. Almost all protestant denominations in Russia came to the defense of Sacred Scripture in the JW translation. In the USA, with its tradition of free diversity of religious currents, any action against people who declare themselves to be preachers of evangelical teaching is taken as "persecution of Christians." Donald Trump, who is now turning Reagan-style emotions into grand policy, may use the conflicts in the religious sphere for pressure on Russia. The bad memory of the expression "evil empire" has returned, to the amazement of Russian Christians and in spite of the rhetoric of the religious renaissance. It may be a dangerous trend to roll out the reaction in the area of ensuring "spiritual security," if it is now that other religious currents, beside Jehovah's Witnesses, that have American origins and ecclesiastical centers in the West, fall under the blow of justice. In addition, there may be dangerous consequences in the propaganda campaign that is now developing around the fate of various persons suspected of committing recent terrorist acts in Russian cities. Media resources, several of which are located in Turkey, methodically speak of "persecution of Christians," while the main story is the dismissal from work and refusal to board on an airplane of Andrei Nikitin, who originally was suspected of committing a terrorist act in the St. Petersburg subway. The Muslim topic may be used for justifying a break of allied relations with Turkey, which now hang by a thread. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 April 2017)
  5. APRIL 6, 2017 RUSSIA Russia’s Supreme Court Will Resume Hearing on April 7 in the Case to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses The Russian Federation Supreme Court hearing today began with the Ministry of Justice arguing that it is necessary to ban all the legal entities of Jehovah’s Witnesses because lower court decisions have concluded that some engaged in extremist activity. The judge then asked the representative of the Ministry of Justice how the actions of the 8 impugned entities can justify action against the Administrative Center and all 395 entities in Russia. The judge also asked how liquidating all the entities would affect the worship of the Witnesses, and he repeatedly asked how the Witnesses are a threat to public order and safety. Lawyers for the defense also posed questions that exposed the intent of the Ministry of Justice to ban the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses, not merely to liquidate their legal entities. The hearing will reconvene on April 7, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. Russia’s Supreme Court Will Resume Hearing on April 7.pdf
  6. APRIL 7, 2017 RUSSIA On Third Day of Russian Supreme Court Case, Jehovah’s Witnesses Present Testimony NEW YORK—The third day of the hearing before the Russian Supreme Court has concluded, and the Court has declared a recess until Wednesday, April 12, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. During today’s proceedings, the Court heard the testimony of four of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who presented key arguments against the Ministry of Justice’s claim to liquidate the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses and ban their activities. The judge directed multiple questions toward the Ministry of Justice, asking them to produce evidence regarding their accusations that Jehovah’s Witnesses are extremists and distribute extremist literature. The Ministry of Justice was unable to do so. Vasiliy Kalin, a member of the presiding committee for the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, stated while addressing the Court: “I want to remind the Ministry of Justice that your request to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses would hurt the very people who wish you a peaceful, happy life.” Media Contacts: International: David A. Semonian, Office of Public Information, +1-845-524-3000 Russia: Yaroslav Sivulskiy, +7-911-087-8009 Jehovah’s Witnesses Present Testimony on Third Day of Russian Supreme Court Case.pdf
  7. APRIL 7, 2017 RUSSIA Hearings Continue for a Third Day in the Case to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses The Russian Federation Supreme Court continued hearings for a third day in the case to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Among others who testified, two directors of the Administrative Center presented objections to the Ministry of Justice’s claim against Jehovah’s Witnesses. Sergey Cherepanov objected to the Ministry’s demand that the Administrative Center stop violations of the extremism law. However, the Ministry never clarified how the Administrative Center allegedly violated the law or how it could eliminate violations. Another director, Vasiliy Kalin, observed that the Administrative Center has been active for 26 years, and asked: “At what point did we become extremists?” He added that Jehovah’s Witnesses have not changed—they obey the authorities and always adhere to principles of peace. He expressed his concern that persecution of the Witnesses has already begun. The judge set the hearing to continue on April 12, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. Hearings Continue for a Third Day in the Case to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses.pdf
  8. Jehovah’s Witnesses break the law forbidding “extremism” when its members refuse blood transfusions, Russia’s Justice Ministry said Thursday at a Supreme Court hearing on the question of banning the religious group in the country. The ministry added that if the organization is outlawed, its members could be prosecuted individually for extremism. The Justice Ministry last month suspended the organization’s headquarters in St. Petersburg, alleging that its activities “violate Russia’s law on combating extremism." The country’s Supreme Court Wednesday began hearing a case that could outlaw the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which has 175,000 members and 395 branches across the country, as an extremist organization. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the Bible prohibits the ingesting of blood and so refuse to allow blood transfusions or donations. At a session of the Supreme Court Thursday, a spokesperson for the Justice Ministry argued that the stance meant the organization violated the anti-extremism law that was passed following Russia’s second war in Chechnya in 1999 and 2000 and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. “Checks have found that the organization is in breach of the law on resistance to extremism,” she said, according to Russian news agency TASS. “In particular, the organization’s religious literature forbids blood transfusion for its members in defiance of the doctors’ recommendation.” The group had been warned in March 2016 that it could be banned if further evidence of alleged extremism was found in the following 12 months. “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 spokeswoman said. A representative for the ministry asserted that the Jehovah’s Witnesses promoted the idea of their exceptionalism and supremacy over other religions, which similarly violated anti-extremism legislation. The Supreme Court dismissed a counterclaimfrom the Jehovah’s Witnesses that its members were victims of repression. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have strongly denied the accusations against it, arguing that “extremism is profoundly alien to the Bible-based beliefs and morality” of members of the faith. The federal United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said Wednesday that the Justice Ministry’s move “reflects the Russian government’s tendency to view all independent religious activity as a threat to its control and the country’s political stability.” http://www.newsweek.com/russia-jehovahs-witnesses-ban-case-580227
  9. Report: Supreme Court to hear the case to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses religion April 5, 2017 Trying to complete ban Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia The Russian Supreme Court began hearings on the suit on the Elimination of Jehovah's Witnesses. It conducted a text report from the courtroom. 10:58 Big beautiful courtroom crowded. There are more than 200 people, including many journalists, representatives of public organizations and foreign embassies. The hearing began at 10:30. A little less than 250 people were left on the street waiting for the results of the hearing. Cook Street in Moscow is filled with cars with transmitting television antennas. Occurring remove numerous chamber. Of police radios periodically hear the message "All is calm, without incident." In the hall representatives of embassies and international organizations in the headphones listening to the process of translation. The case was heard Judge Yuri Ivanenko. The defendant, "the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" are 6 persons, including Vasily Kalin of the Steering Committee, as well as lawyers. The representative of Ministry of Justice of Russia - Svetlana Borisova. Attached to the case with the defendant's objections to the applications in 35 volumes. The court allowed the photographing and video recording only when the announcement of the final act. However, there is no record of obstacles. In the hall there are about 40 members of the media, they occupy the first rows of the audience. 11:00 The court refused to accept a counter claim for recognition of the Ministry of Justice acts of political repression. The judge described the passage of objections to the claim sufficient measure of protection for the defendant. 11:15 Representatives of Jehovah's Witnesses apply for admission to participation in the case of representatives of all 395 local religious organizations. Lawyer little wife: "If believers throughout Russia will be deprived of their rights, let them hear it here in court." Local religious organizations, contrary to the logic of the Ministry of Justice, are not the structural units of each other, but separate legal entities. 11:20 The lawyer Lew gives an example: "The logic of the Ministry of Justice, it turns out, it is necessary to impose a sentence: Shoot chieftain. And his whole platoon. " 11:25 The court rejected the enlistment of the 395 local organizations as a respondent. 11:30 Jehovah's Witnesses have asked the court to allow audio broadcasting the trial. The court refused. 11:35 Lawyers for the Jehovah's Witnesses are asking the court to adjourn the hearing pending the outcome of another case in another court. It is an appeal to the Court of Justice order the suspension of the activities of organizations . 11:42 The Ministry of Justice objected, because it believes that the authorities had every right to suspend the activities of organizations. 11:45 The court refused to postpone the hearing. 11:50 Omelchenko lawyer seeks the abandonment of the claim without consideration of the Ministry of Justice. The plaintiff is not complied with the pre-trial procedure for settling claims to the 395 communities of Jehovah's Witnesses. Before you make a claim for the liquidation of 395 local religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, the authorities, by law, had to make an official warning each of them and to give time to correct them. 11:55 The second reason for the abandonment without consideration of this claim lies in the fact that the Russian courts have treated similar cases of liquidation and recognition of the "extremist" 2 out of 395 local Jehovah's Witnesses organizations (Karachay-Cherkessia and the Samara region). 12:05 The Court dismissed the petition on the abandonment without consideration. 12:10 Representatives of Jehovah's Witnesses are asked to postpone the hearing for one week due to the fact that the Ministry of Justice sent a statement of claim to the defendant in time. It came in the mail only to March 28, 2017. In addition, the Ministry of Justice to provide the defendant not all documents specified in the annexes to the statement of claim. 12:17 The Ministry of Justice does not object to the adjournment of the case. 12:19 The court refused to postpone the case. 12:20 Lawyer little wife seeks the suspension of the case due to the fact that in a number of Russian vessels submitted applications for consideration in force decisions of the courts on newly discovered evidence. We are talking about the revision in force of affairs on the Elimination of 8 local religious organizations (MPO) and the introduction of 88 publications of Jehovah's Witnesses in FSEM. The fact that all those court decisions were made without the involvement of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, since the Ministry of Justice insisted that the court decisions in relation to the LRO not affect the rights of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. In the present case the Ministry of Justice changed position and now all accusations against MPO, imputed to the Administrative Center. 12:30 The Ministry of Justice objected to the suspension, considering that, in cases involving MPO attended the same lawyers as in the case of liquidation of the MPO. 12:33 The court retired to the deliberation room. 13:50 The Court went out of the deliberation room. The suspension of the case was denied. 13:55 Little wife's lawyer said the petition to bring to participate in the case of experts, namely the religious scholars and linguists. Specialists may clarify whether are really extremist and dangerous texts that form the basis of the requirements of the Ministry of Justice to ban an entire religion in Russia. 14:00 Asked by the judge whether to propose lawyers to arrange a "revision" of court decisions, which was included in the literature FSEM lawyers explained that this information will be important to determine the proportionality of the Ministry of Justice requirements. 14:04 The representative of the Ministry of Justice objected to the admission of experts for the hearing. 14:05 The court refused to attract specialists to the hearing. 14:06 The lawyer asks little wife get to take part in the 9 foreign legal persons representing the religious communities of Jehovah's Witnesses in Europe and America. The reason is that the Ministry of Justice in its lawsuit asks the court to confiscate properties belonging to these organizations. 14:14 The court refused to attract foreign companies to participate in the case. 14:15 Omelchenko said the lawyer about bringing a motion to participate in the proceedings as interested parties of eight Russian citizens who were rehabilitated as victims of political repression. These people present in the room. Lawyers argue convincingly that these people rehabilitated from the turn in the case of satisfaction of the claim to the "extremists". 14:20 The Ministry of Justice said that the court decides on the liquidation of legal entities, it does not apply to individuals. In his reply the lawyer reminded the little wife that such considerations were guided by Soviet authorities, banning the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, however, repression of painful blow it for the people, so that they have been rehabilitated. 14:25 Court denies the petition. 14:30 Lawyers apply for the interrogation of individual citizens, followers of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses who can testify about what measures have been taken by Jehovah's Witnesses in order to prevent extremist activity. 14:35 The Ministry of Justice does not object. The court granted. 14:40 Lawyers say the request for interrogation as witnesses of persons recognized as victims of political repression. The Ministry of Justice objected. Court refuses. 14:43 Representative of Jehovah's Witnesses Nowak said petition for interrogation as witnesses of persons who witnessed falsification of evidence against those who believe in things that the Ministry of Justice uses in his lawsuit as "further evidence of the offense." 14:45 On the judge's objection that it comes to an effective decision, Novak says that in the present case can not be used prejudicial approach, because it is a different legal entity. The court must examine the evidence directly. Novakov tells the court about the circumstances and tossed perjuredly indications in a number of Russian cities. 15:00 The Ministry of Justice objected, arguing that the questioning, they believe authorities, aims to "to review the decision to enter into force." The court refused to examine witnesses evidence of fraud simple local Jehovah's Witnesses organizations.
  10. Le autorità russe considerano i Testimoni di Geova alla stregua di un gruppo estremista. La Corte suprema dovrà prendere posizione il prossimo 5 aprile Roma (NEV), 4 aprile 2017 – Domani, 5 aprile, la Corte Suprema della Federazione Russa si esprimerà sulla liceità delle attività religiose dei Testimoni di Geova. La diffusione della notizia, ripresa nei giorni scorsi anche dalle principali testate italiane, si deve anzitutto al sito ufficiale dei Testimoni di Geova nel mondo (www.jw.org), che dal 21 marzo scorso porta avanti una campagna di sensibilizzazione internazionale al fine di scongiurare una “proscrizione religiosa” che sembrerebbe riportare indietro le lancette della storia: al tempo in cui, sotto al regime sovietico, i Testimoni di Geova vivevano la propria fede nell’illegalità. Secondo diverse fonti e testimonianze internazionali, in Russia azioni governative di contrasto alla predicazione locale dei Testimoni di Geova si registrano da più di un decennio. Nel 2006, tra le attività “estremiste” da vietare per legge, il Cremlino incluse “l’incitamento alla discordia religiosa”: in un momento in cui l’allarme terrorismo è ai massimi storici è proprio “l’estremismo” il reato che dal 15 marzo scorso il Ministero della giustizia russo contesta anche formalmente agli appartenenti della minoranza religiosa. Stando a quanto dichiarato alla stampa italiana da Yaroslav Sivulskij, portavoce della congregazione a Mosca, in Russia i Testimoni di Geova sono accostati all’“estremismo religioso”, al “settarismo” all'”isolamento sociale”: “In questo difficile contesto politico il timore delle autorità è che la predicazione mini l’armonia della società, divida le famiglie e indottrini i più giovani”. Accuse contro le quali si è alzata la voce di David Semonian, portavoce dei Testimoni di Geova presso la sede mondiale di New York: “Perseguire cittadini pacifici e rispettosi della legge come se fossero terroristi è chiaramente un’applicazione impropria della legge contro l’estremismo. È evidente che leggere la Bibbia, cantare e pregare con i propri compagni di fede non sono atti criminali. Speriamo che questa campagna mondiale spinga i funzionari della Russia a porre fine a questo trattamento ingiustificato”. Degli otto milioni di Testimoni di Geova sparsi nel mondo, si stima che circa 175.000 viva in Russia. Secondo jw.org, nel caso in cui la Corte suprema accogliesse l’istanza del Ministero della giustizia, la sede nazionale dei Testimoni di Geova – attualmente nei pressi di San Pietroburgo – verrebbe chiusa, le 400 associazioni locali registrate verrebbero sciolte e le attività di oltre 2.300 congregazioni verrebbero considerate illegali. A rigor di logica, le proprietà e i luoghi di culto potrebbero quindi essere confiscati dallo Stato, mentre i singoli testimoni potrebbero essere perseguiti per il loro impegno religioso. http://www.nev.it/nev/2017/04/04/russia-i-testimoni-di-geova-a-rischio-proscrizione/
  11. By Victoria Arnold, Forum 18 Eleven Muslims charged or on trial for meeting to study Turkish theologian Said Nursi's works face up to six years' imprisonment if convicted. The trial of three men began in Dagestan, while another continues in Blagoveshchensk. Two Jehovah's Witnesses also remain on criminal trial. The trial of three Muslims charged with "extremist activity" for meeting to study the works of Turkish theologian Said Nursi has begun in the Dagestani capital Makhachkala, with the first full hearing on 3 April. The trial of a further Muslim on the same grounds continues in Blagoveshchensk in the Far Eastern Amur Region. Criminal proceedings against another two are due to begin next month in Krasnoyarsk. The FSB security service has extended until 2 May its investigation of a further four Muslims in Novosibirsk who read Nursi's works (see below). The eleven now charged or on trial for meeting to study Nursi's works face large fines or up to six years' imprisonment if found guilty. Two Jehovah's Witnesses charged with "extremism"-related "offences" in Moscow Region have faced repeated delays to their criminal trial since the judge ordered further "expert analysis" in November 2016 (see below). The trial of Stavropol atheist Viktor Krasnov has ended with the expiry of the two-year time limit on criminal prosecutions. He was prosecuted under Criminal Code Article 148, Part 1 ("Public actions expressing obvious disrespect for society and committed with the intention of insulting the religious feelings of believers") (see below). Nursi cases All four ongoing prosecutions of Muslims who study Nursi's works have arisen from circumstances similar to those of previous cases: people who have met to read and discuss Nursi's books are accused of creating "cells" of the banned "extremist" organisation "Nurdzhular", which Muslims in Russia deny exists. Prosecutors then bring charges under Criminal Code Article 282.2, either under Part 1 ("Organisation of the activity of a social or religious association or other organisation in relation to which a court has adopted a decision legally in force on liquidation or ban on the activity in connection with the carrying out of extremist activity") or Part 2 ("Participation in the activity of a social or religious association or other organisation in relation to which a court has adopted a decision legally in force on liquidation or ban on the activity in connection with the carrying out of extremist activity") (see Forum 18's "extremism" Russia religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=2215). The 11 accused Muslims are being prosecuted under the pre-July 2016 version of Criminal Code Article 282.2. If convicted under Part 1, they could receive fines of 300,000 to 500,000 Roubles, compulsory labour of up to five years, or prison sentences of up to six years. If convicted under Part 2, courts could hand down fines of up to 300,000 Roubles, compulsory labour of up to three years, or prison sentences of up to four years. The so-called Yarovaya anti-terrorism package introduced harsher penalties for extremism-related offences in July 2016. These included an increase in the maximum prison sentence to ten years under Article 282.2, Part 1, and six years under Part 2 (see Forum 18's "extremism" Russia religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=2215). No prosecutions under these amended terms are known to have been initiated between 20 July 2016 and early April 2017. Financial penalties even if not convicted Officials have placed both Jehovah's Witness defendants and all eleven of the Muslims currently being prosecuted on the list of "terrorists and extremists" maintained by the Federal Financial Monitoring Service (Rosfinmonitoring). (Krasnov has never appeared as he was not charged with an extremism-related offence.) Banks are thereby obliged to freeze their assets. On 30 January 2014, the law was relaxed to allow small transactions not exceeding 10,000 Roubles per month. (For a detailed description of this financial blacklisting, see Forum 18's Russia Extremism survey http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2215.) Dagestan trial begins Three Muslims who read Nursi's works have gone on trial in the Dagestani capital Makhachkala. Ziyavdin Badirsoltanovich Dapayev (born 12 May 1982) is facing charges under Article 282.2, Part 1, for allegedly organising a "Nurdzhular cell". On trial with him on the same charges are the brothers Sukhrab Abdulgamidovich Kultuyev (born 13 November 1981) and Artur Abdulgamidovich Kultuyev (born 15 June 1986). After a preliminary hearing on 20 March, their first full hearing took place on 3 April before Judge Magomed Nasrutdinov at Makhachkala's Lenin District Court. The case is being heard in open court and three relatives of the defendants were present, Dapayev's lawyer Murzatali Barkayev told Forum 18 on 3 April. It is unlikely that there will be a verdict soon, he added. The next hearing is due on 12 April at 14.30 Makhachkala time. Dapayev is still being held in an investigation prison, Imam Ilhom Merazhov, who has been following the case, confirmed to Forum 18 on 30 March. He has been detained there since March 2016, when 14 Muslims were arrested in a series of raids across Dagestan (most of whom were later released) (see F18News 11 April 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2166). FSB officers seized hundreds of books, as well as phones and computers, from suspects' homes. The Kultuyev brothers remain under travel restrictions. All three men appear on the Rosfinmonitoring list of terrorists and extremists. Dapayev's prison address is: 367012 Respublika Dagestan Makhachkala ulitsa Levina 45 Sledstvenny Izolyator No. 1 Russia This is the second time Dapayev has been charged with "extremist activity" for studying Nursi's works. In May 2011, he received a three-year suspended sentence, which was upheld on appeal, and the court decided that books belonging to him should be destroyed (see F18News 21 June 2011 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1582). After Dapayev challenged the destruction ruling, some books were returned, but up to 70 copies of Nursi's writings in translation were again ordered to be destroyed (see F18News 21 March 2012 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1682). Krasnoyarsk trials imminent Andrei Nikolayevich Dedkov (born 16 June 1979) is due to appear in court in April on charges of organising a "cell" of "Nurdzhular". He was released from pre-trial detention on 3 March (after nearly a year in custody) and placed under travel restrictions, Imam Merazhov, who has been following his case, told Forum 18 on 5 March. Dedkov has been charged for the third time under Article 282.2, Part 1, for arranging gatherings of Muslims to read the works of Said Nursi. Prosecutors have submitted the case to Krasnoyarsk's Soviet District Court and the first hearing is due on 18 April, a fellow Muslim who reads Nursi's works told Forum 18 on 27 March. Andrei Gennadyevich Rekst (born 14 March 1994) was charged at the same time as Dedkov under Article 282.2, Part 2, for "participation in" the alleged cell. He will soon go on trial at Sverdlovsk District Court, but no hearing date has yet been set. He is currently free on bail. Prosecutors are also seeking to have religious literature seized from Rekst's home declared "extremist". A preliminary hearing was held before Judge Natalya Bogdevich at Sverdlovsk District Court on 27 March, at which the first full hearing was scheduled for 25 April, according to the court website. Law enforcement agents confiscated the books during a search of Rekst's flat in March 2016. FSB-appointed "experts", who also examined surveillance recordings of several Muslims' conversations in Krasnoyarsk over much of 2015, determined that Rekst possessed "some titles in a quantity greater than necessary for personal use, which indicates the possibility of spreading the ideas of the teachings of Said Nursi" (see F18News 1 February 2017 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2251). Both Rekst and Dedkov appear on the Rosfinmonitoring list of terrorists and extremists. Blagoveshchensk trial continues The trial of Yevgeny Lvovich Kim (born 5 October 1974) continues at Blagoveshchensk City Court before Judge Aleksei Salnikov. The next hearings are due on 18 and 19 April. The most recent hearings, on 28 and 30 March, focused on the questioning of prosecution witnesses, a fellow Muslim who reads Nursi's works told Forum 18 from Blagoveshchensk on 4 April. These witnesses, all Muslims whom the FSB had initially detained alongside Kim, "refused to corroborate the testimonies they had given during the preliminary investigation, explaining that they had not said these things [and] that they had been interrogated in handcuffs". Both the court and the Amur Region FSB, which conducted the investigation, have repeatedly refused to answer any of Forum 18's questions about the reasons for and progress of the case. The FSB completed their investigation of Kim and submitted it to Amur Regional Prosecutor's Office on 14 November 2016. The case file, seen by Forum 18, runs to 135 pages, including witness statements, reports of raids and searches, inventories of confiscated materials, and the results of expert analysis of seized religious literature. According to the formal charges, Kim "systematically organised the carrying out of religious gatherings, united by one theme – the study of the works of Said Nursi, which are the foundation of the ideology of the international religious organisation Nurdzhular, which threatens inter-ethnic and inter-confessional stability in society and the territorial integrity of the state". Kim is accused of storing teaching materials and religious books in his flat, "some of which are recognised as extremist literature", and of reading and commenting on Nursi's "Risale-i Nur" (Messages of Light) collection at the alleged gatherings, at which he reportedly took on a "leading role". The case file notes that Kim refused to admit guilt throughout the investigation period, does not recognise the existence of "Nurdzhular", and does not consider himself a member. Kim has also been charged under Article 282, Part 1 ("actions aimed at the incitement of hatred or enmity, as well as humiliation of a person or group", based on gender, race, nationality, language, origin, attitude to religion, or social group). According to the FSB investigators, "by verbal and non-verbal means .. he exerted a leading, directing, unifying and active effect on the subconsciousness, consciousness, will, and behaviour of people attending the gatherings, with the aim of formulating in them a feeling of hatred and enmity, and also of humiliating the dignity of a person or group of people on grounds of religion and social grouping" and "inculcating a belief in the social and religious superiority of the followers of the teachings of 'Risale-i Nur'". This additional charge is unusual for a Nursi-related case. Forum 18 knows of only two other individuals who read Nursi's writings who have been taken to court for this alleged offence since the works began to be banned in 2007 – Ilham Islamli was convicted under Article 282, Part 1, alone in August 2010; in September 2011, Rashid Abdulov was convicted under Article 282, Part 2(v), as well as Article 282.2, Part 1 (see F18News 14 October 2011 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1625). Kim and several friends were detained and interrogated after an armed FSB unit raided Kim's flat on 26 December 2015, during a gathering to celebrate the birthday of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed (see F18News 21 January 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2141). All but Kim were later released. Kim's friend Anton Pavlovich Starodubtsev (born 4 April 1980) has also been charged under Article 282.2, Part 2, but his whereabouts remain unknown. After their initial detention, Starodubtsev complained of the treatment they received during both arrest and questioning, including threats and attempted blackmail, and has categorically denied any involvement in extremist activity (see F18News 11 April 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2166). Both Kim and Starodubtsev have been added to the Rosfinmonitoring list of terrorists and extremists. Novosibirsk investigation extended The FSB investigation of Imam Komil Olimovich Odilov (born 18 August 1975) and three other Muslims in Novosibirsk has been extended until 2 May, Odilov's lawyer Yuliya Zhemchugova told Forum 18 on 16 March. She expects that the case will then be submitted to the city's October District Court. The four men will then have been under investigation for seventeen months, Forum 18 notes. During this time, Odilov was held in pre-trial detention for nine months, before he was released and placed under travel restrictions in early September 2016. Two of his fellow defendants - Uralbek Karaguzinov (born 21 July 1954) and Mirsultan Takhir-ogly Nasirov (born 8 October 1997) – are also under travel restrictions. The whereabouts of the third, Timur Muzafarovich Atadzhanov (born 21 April 1988), remain unknown, and he has been added to the federal wanted list. Prosecutors have charged Odilov under Criminal Code Article 282.2, Part 1 for the alleged "organisation" of a "Nurdzhular" cell. Karaguzinov, Nasirov, and Atadzhanov have been charged under Article 282.2, Part 2, for alleged "participation" in a "Nurdzhular" cell. Odilov, Karaguzinov, Nasirov and Atadzhanov were among nine Muslims originally detained by the FSB security service at an Azerbaijani cafe in Novosibirsk on the night of 5 December 2015 (see F18News 29 June 2016 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2193). Most were released the next morning after questioning, but officers searched their homes and confiscated copies of Nursi's books from Odilov's flat, along with his computer and phone. All four men appear on the Rosfinmonitoring list of terrorists and extremists. Why the campaign against Nursi readers? Nothing in Nursi's writings appears to advocate hatred, violence, or the violation of any human right. Despite this, numerous lower courts across Russia have ruled that various Russian translations of his works (and of some other Islamic and Jehovah's Witness texts) are "extremist", and have had them added to the Justice Ministry's Federal List of Extremist Materials (see Forum 18's "extremism" Russia religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=2215). The grounds for Russia's ongoing nationwide campaign against readers of Nursi's works are obscure, with quite different reasons offered for banning Nursi writings and "Nurdzhular" in different contexts. The primary cause, however, appears to be state opposition to "foreign" spiritual and cultural influence (see Forum 18's "extremism" Russia religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=2215). Little or no reasoning is given in the court decisions which have added Nursi's works to the Federal List, Forum 18 notes. Among the few specific instances of "extremism" cited, for example, are Nursi's descriptions of non-Muslims as "frivolous", "philosophers" and "empty-talkers". The freedom to criticise any religious or non-religious belief is, however, a central part of the freedom of religion and belief (see Forum 18's "extremism" Russia religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=2215). Sergiyev Posad Jehovah's Witness trial delayed again The "extremism" trial of Vyacheslav Yuryevich Stepanov (born 20 March 1977) and Andrei Petrovich Sivak (born 28 March 1974) was delayed on 22 March for the seventh time since Judge Lidiya Baranova ordered further expert analysis to be carried out in November 2016. The hearing is now due on 10 April, according to the website of Sergiyev Posad City Court. Sivak and Stepanov have been charged under Criminal Code Article 282, Part 2, with inciting religious hatred (see F18News 26 January 2017 http://forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2250). The two men were originally acquitted of this offence in March 2016, when Judge Yelena Aminova concluded that the religious gatherings they had organised had "an educational, discursive character" and that "views inherent in the religion are evaluated as true and correct, which is an integral important feature of religious discourse". In May 2016, however, Moscow Regional Court overturned Judge Aminova's ruling at the request of prosecutors, and sent the case back for re-examination. Criminal Code Article 282, Part 2, punishes publicly performed "actions aimed at the incitement of hatred or enmity, as well as humiliation of a person or group", based on gender, race, nationality, language, origin, attitude to religion, or social group, when committed a) with violence or the threat of violence; b) by a person using their official position; c) by an organised group (of which Stepanov and Sivak are accused). If found guilty, Stepanov and Sivak face a fine of up to 600,000 Roubles, up to 5 years' compulsory labour, or up to 6 years' imprisonment. They have already been added to the Rosfinmonitoring list of terrorists and extremists. Stavropol atheist's trial ends On 15 February, a Stavropol magistrate halted the trial of atheist blogger Viktor Krasnov (known on social media as Viktor Kolosov) on the grounds that the two-year limit on criminal prosecution had expired. Krasnov was being tried under Criminal Code Article 148, Part 1 ("Public actions expressing obvious disrespect for society and committed with the intention of insulting the religious feelings of believers"). In January, he had requested that his trial should continue beyond the expiry of the statute of limitations. At what would be his final hearing, however, Krasnov stated that he saw "no point in further court proceedings, since the court is ignoring all the arguments of the defence" and asked "to stop this circus", according to a 15 February post on his VKontakte page. According to the court's written decision, seen by Forum 18, the two-year limit was reached on 1 November 2016. Prosecutors accused Krasnov of "crimes" committed online on the Vkontakte social network, including stating that "there is no God" and calling the Bible "a collection of Jewish fairy tales". Krasnov also described as "rubbish" a verse in St Paul's first letter to the Corinthians claiming that: "Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ". Among other comments, Krasnov described attending church at Easter and Christmas as "herd mentality". The freedom to criticise any religious or non-religious belief is part of Russia's international freedom of religion and belief obligations (see F18News 3 December 2015 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2128). A total of 19 hearings took place before Judge Aleksandr Filimonov of Stavropol Magistrate's Court No. 6 over 15 months (including a suspension of proceedings for further "expert analysis" to be carried out). During this time, the "victims" of Krasnov's alleged offence repeatedly failed to appear, and Stavropol's Moscow Patriarchate Diocese failed to send a representative (as requested by Krasnov's lawyer) to establish exactly who was being defended by the state – Krasnov's online interlocutors or all Russian Orthodox believers (see F18News 1 February 2017 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2251). (END) http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2270
  12. The Supreme Court decided that the counterclaim could not be reviewed at the moment, as it was filed in an inappropriate court source TASS Next hearing is tomorrow at 2 pm (Moscow time). Keep praying and stay tuned The court adjourned to April 6, 2017 at 2 pm Our brothers, mostly lawyers
  13. Russia Moves to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses as ‘Extremist’ By ANDREW HIGGINS APRIL 4, 2017 Jehovah’s Witnesses gathered in a house in the village of Vorokhobino, north of Moscow, where they meet for services. CreditJames Hill for The New York Times VOROKHOBINO, Russia — A dedicated pacifist who has never even held a gun, Andrei Sivak discovered that his government considered him a dangerous extremist when he tried to change some money and the teller “suddenly looked up at me with a face full of fear.” His name had popped up on the exchangalee bureau’s computer system, along with those of members of Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other militant groups responsible for shocking acts of violence. The only group the 43-year-old father of three has ever belonged to, however, is Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination committed to the belief that the Bible must be taken literally, particularly its injunction “Thou shalt not kill.” Yet, in a throwback to the days of the Soviet Union, when Jehovah’s Witnesses were hounded as spies and malcontents by the K.G.B., the denomination is at the center of an escalating campaign by the authorities to curtail religious groups that compete with the Russian Orthodox Church and that challenge President Vladimir V. Putin’s efforts to rally the country behind traditional and often militaristic patriotic values. The Justice Ministry on Thursday put the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, an office complex near St. Petersburg, on a list of the bodies banned “in connection with the carrying out of extremist activities.” Last month, the ministry asked the Supreme Court to outlaw the religious organization and stop its more than 170,000 Russian members from spreading “extremist” texts. The court is scheduled to hear — and is likely to rule on — the case on Wednesday. Extremism, as defined by a law passed in 2002 but amended and expanded several times since, has become a catchall charge that can be deployed against just about anybody, as it has been against some of those involved in recent anti-corruption protests in Moscow and scores of other cities. The Jehovah’s Witnesses elders Vyacheslav Stepanov, 40, left, and Andrei Sivak, 43, are facing trial on charges of inciting division and hatred. CreditJames Hill for The New York Times Several students who took part in demonstrations in the Siberian city of Tomsk are now being investigated by a special anti-extremism unit while Leonid Volkov, the senior aide to the jailed protest leader Aleksei A. Navalny, said he had himself been detained last week under the extremism law. In the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the putative extremism seems to derive mostly from the group’s absolute opposition to violence, a stand that infuriated Soviet and now Russian authorities whose legitimacy rests in large part on the celebration of martial triumphs, most notably over Nazi Germany in World War II but also over rebels in Syria. Jehovah’s Witnesses, members of a denomination founded in the United States in the 19th century and active in Russia for more than 100 years, refuse military service, do not vote and view God as the only true leader. They shun the patriotic festivals promoted with gusto by the Kremlin, like the annual celebration of victory in 1945 and recent events to celebrate the annexation of Crimea in March 2014. Mr. Sivak, who says he lost his job as a physical education teacher because of his role as a Jehovah’s Witnesses elder, said he had voted for Mr. Putin in 2000, three years before joining the denomination. He added that while he has not voted since, nor has he supported anti-Kremlin activities of the sort that usually attract the attention of Russia’s post-Soviet version of the K.G.B., the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B. “I have absolutely no interest in politics,” he said during a recent Jehovah’s Witnesses Friday service in a wooden country house in Vorokhobino, a snow-covered village north of Moscow. Around 100 worshipers crammed into a long, chilly room under fluorescent lights to listen to readings from the Bible, sing and watch a video advising them to dress for worship as they would for a meeting with the president. “From the Russian state’s perspective, Jehovah’s Witnesses are completely separate,” said Geraldine Fagan, the author of “Believing in Russia — Religious Policy After Communism.” She added, “They don’t get involved in politics, but this is itself seen as a suspicious political deviation.” “The idea of independent and public religious activity that is completely outside the control of — and also indifferent to — the state sets all sorts of alarm bells ringing in the Orthodox Church and the security services,” she said. That the worldwide headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses is in the United States and that its publications are mostly prepared there, Ms. Fagan added, “all adds up to a big conspiracy theory” for the increasingly assertive F.S.B. Photo Jehovah’s Witnesses arriving at a Friday evening service in Vorokhobino. CreditJames Hill for The New York Times For Mr. Sivak, it has added up to a long legal nightmare. His troubles began, he said, when undercover security officers posed as worshipers and secretly filmed a service where he was helping to officiate in 2010. Accused of “inciting hatred and disparaging the human dignity of citizens,” he was put on trial for extremism along with a second elder, Vyacheslav Stepanov, 40. The prosecutor’s case, heard by a municipal court in Sergiyev Posad, a center of the Russian Orthodox Church, produced no evidence of extremism and focused instead on the insufficient patriotism of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Their disregard for the state,” a report prepared for the prosecution said, “erodes any sense of civic affiliation and promotes the destruction of national and state security.” In a ruling last year, the court found the two men not guilty and their ordeal seemed over — until Mr. Sivak tried to change money and was told that he had been placed on a list of “terrorists and extremists.” He and Mr. Stepanov now face new charges of extremism and are to appear before a regional court this month. “There is a big wave of repression breaking,” Mr. Stepanov said. In response to written questions, the Justice Ministry in Moscow said a yearlong review of documents at the Jehovah’s Witnesses “administrative center” near St. Petersburg had uncovered violations of a Russian law banning extremism. As a result, it added, the center should be “liquidated,” along with nearly 400 locally registered branches of the group and other structures. For the denomination’s leaders inside Russia, the sharp escalation in a long campaign of harassment, previously driven mostly by local officials, drew horrifying flashbacks to the Soviet era. Vasily Kalin, the chairman of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Russian arm, recalled that his whole family had been deported to Siberia when he was a child. “It is sad and reprehensible that my children and grandchildren should be facing a similar fate,” he said. “Never did I expect that we would again face the threat of religious persecution in modern Russia.” Mr. Stepanov led a Friday evening service. CreditJames Hill for The New York Times In Russia, as in many countries, the door-to-door proselytizing of Jehovah’s Witnesses often causes irritation, and their theological idiosyncrasies disturb many mainstream Christians. The group has also been widely criticized for saying that the Bible prohibits blood transfusions. But it has never promoted violent or even peaceful political resistance. “I cannot imagine that anyone really thinks they are a threat,” said Alexander Verkhovsky, director of the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis, which monitors extremism in Russia. “But they are seen as a good target. They are pacifists, so they cannot be radicalized, no matter what you do to them. They can be used to send a message.” That message, it would seem, is that everyone needs to get with the Putin program — or risk being branded as an extremist if they display indifference, never mind hostility, to the Kremlin’s drive to make Russia a great power again. “A big reason they are being targeted is simply that they are an easy target,” Ms. Fagan said. “They don’t vote, so nobody is going to lose votes by attacking them.” Attacking Jehovah’s Witnesses also sends a signal that even the mildest deviation from the norm, if proclaimed publicly and insistently, can be punished under the anti-extremism law, which was passed after Russia’s second war in Chechnya and the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. Billed as a move by Russia to join a worldwide struggle against terrorism, the law prohibited “incitement of racial, national or religious strife, and social hatred associated with violence or calls for violence.” But the reference to violence was later deleted, opening the way for the authorities to classify as extremist any group claiming to offer a unique, true path to religious or political salvation. Even the Russian Orthodox Church has sometimes fallen afoul of the law: The slogan “Orthodoxy or Death!” — a rallying cry embraced by some hard-line believers — has been banned as an illegal extremist text. The Cathedral of the Assumption in Sergiyev Posad. Jehovah’s Witnesses say that the local authorities have avoided giving them permission to build a Kingdom Hall in the town, and that they have to use a large house in a village 12 miles away for services. CreditJames Hill for The New York Times To help protect the Orthodox Church and other established religions, Parliament passed a law in 2015 to exempt the Bible and the Quran, as well as Jewish and Buddhist scripture, from charges of extremism based on their claims to offer the only true faith. The main impetus for the current crackdown, however, appears to come from the security services, not the Orthodox Church. Roman Lunkin, director of the Institute of Religion and Law, a Moscow research group, described it as “part of a broad policy of suppressing all nongovernmental organizations” that has gained particular force because of the highly centralized structure of Jehovah’s Witnesses under a worldwide leadership based in the United States. “They are controlled from outside Russia and this is very suspicious for our secret services,” he said. “They don’t like having an organization that they do not and cannot control.” Artyom Grigoryan, a former Jehovah’s Witness who used to work at the group’s Russian headquarters but who now follows the Orthodox Church, said the organization had “many positive elements,” like its ban on excessive drinking, smoking and other unhealthy habits. All the same, he said it deserved to be treated with suspicion. “Look at it from the view of the state,” he said. “Here is an organization that is run from America, that gets financing from abroad, and whose members don’t serve in the army and don’t vote.” Estranged from his parents, who are still members and view his departure as sinful, he said Jehovah’s Witnesses broke up families and “in the logic of the state, it presents a threat.” He added, “I am not saying this is real or not, but it needs to be checked by objective experts.” Mr. Sivak, now preparing for yet another trial, said he had always tried to follow the law and he respected the state, but could not put its interests above the commands of his faith. “They say I am a terrorist,” he said, “but all I ever wanted to do was to get people to pay attention to the Bible.” Correction: April 4, 2017 An earlier version of this article misstated Andrei Sivak’s age. He is 43, not 42. The error was repeated in a picture caption, which also misstated the age of Vyacheslav Stepanov. He is 40, not 39. And because of an editing error, the article also misidentified the person who said he was detained last week under Russia’s extremism law. It was Leonid Volkov, not Aleksei A. Navalny. NICE THAT THE EDITOR PUT A PICTURE OF ELDERLY WITNESSES THAT RUSSIA IS CALLING DANGEROUS EXTREMIST.
  14. Jehovah's Witnesses on brink of catastrophe WATERSHED 5 APRIL by Anton Chivchalov Radio Svoboda, 3 April 2017 You probably do not know what is happening on 5April unless you read the recent text by Alexander Podrabinek on the Svoboda website. For the rest, I suggest that you get up to date as quickly as possible because the date is extraordinarily important. On this day the Supreme Court of the Russian federation may for the first time in the modern history of the country liquidate . . . a religion. Not a company, not a legal entity, not an organization—a whole confession, a whole faith. By the stroke of a judge's pen, about 200 thousand believers of this confession may be declared outside the law, their religious property may be confiscated, and a mass of criminal cases will be opened against them throughout the country, with real prospects of prison terms. The issue is about one of the largest confessions in the country, the Jehovah's Witnesses. "Prosecution of Witnesses has been going on for a long time, although there are no bases for it. This is not an extremist sect but serious Christians, who are no worse in any way than our Orthodox. It is all explained by the fact that they constitute competition for our official church," explains the chairman of the Civic Assistance committee, Svetlana Gannushkina. And rights advocate Liudmila Alekseeva called what is happening criminal. Few know about this date and about the tectonic shift in Russian public life and thoughts that is being prepared. Although religious websites write about the situation (see how the main pages of the Credo and Religiia i Pravo websites look), the overwhelming portion of the intelligentsia remains in complete ignorance about what is happening. Even on the rights advocacy websites and opposition portals one finds almost no information on this subject. The problem is that all Russian intellectuals, rights advocates, and opposition figures may wake up on 6 April in a completely different country without noticing it. In a country in which the state has banned a religion—an unheard-of, absurd, savage thing by any civilized (European, democratic, humanistic, it should be stressed) standards. On 15 March the Ministry of Justice filed in the Supreme Court a lawsuit for finding all 395 local religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses to be extremist and for liquidating them, along with their parent organization, the Administrative Center, located outside St. Petersburg. This court is supposed to issue its decision on 5 April or a bit later—a month is given for everything, and this month is calculated from 15 March. Consequently, everything should be finished no later than 15 April. A temporary suspension of all activity has already been introduced at the request of the Ministry of Justice, as a temporary injunction for the period of the consideration of the case. In a real sense, we are standing on the brink of a catastrophe, after which we will return directly to 1937. In the event of a satisfaction of the ministry's lawsuit, confession of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Russian federation will become practically impossible. The issue is, I remind you, about a large, generally recognized religious movement, which operates freely and officially in all countries of Europe, without exception. But Russia has now managed to become the first country in the world in which the official website of the movement has been forbidden (which is among the three most popular religious websites in the world), the first country in which importation of its edition of the Bible is forbidden, and now it may also become the first country in which this movement will be banned as a whole for extremism, and people are accused of that who on principle refuse to bear arms. In order to prove that peaceful citizens are extremists, officials have had to take recourse to years-long titanic efforts, including false expert analyses and planting of compromising material. The Jehovah's Witnesses may become the first victims, after which come the second and third. In the opinion of religious studies scholar Stanislav Panin, now new technologies of struggle with unwelcome religions are being rolled out on the Witnesses. Russia may enter a historical phase in which the state declares war on believers and on faith as such. "The only way out that the state has found is to declare the entire religious sphere potentially dangerous," says religious studies scholar Roman Lunkin. In these very days, millions of fellow believers of the Russian Jehovah's Witnesses throughout the world are writing letters to the Russian president and other high officials, and hashtags with videos posted by them are roaming the Internet. All of this is a kind of gesture of despair, witnessing merely that judicial means of struggle have been exhausted. In a real sense, we are standing on the brink of a catastrophe, after which we return directly to 1937. And this will be done so quickly that nobody will notice. The preparatory work has been done, and what remains is a formality. Anatoly Pchelintsev, a doctor of jurisprudence and member of the expert council of the State Duma, explains: "The Ministry of Justice has made a colossal juridical and religious studies mistake. All of history testifies to the fact that an attempt to ban and liquidate will lead to nothing. The Jehovah's Witnesses will simply exist in the underground." He said that even Orthodox clergy ask him in bewilderment what is happening. They now understand: tomorrow they may come for them. We all must wake up as quickly as possible and realize what may happen by the day after tomorrow. (tr. by PDS) Thursday, March 30,
  15. Thursday, March 30, Worldwide Letter-writing Campaign Protests Proposed Religious Ban A huge news story is being almost completely ignored by the media. Post offices across the country are running out of international stamps. Facebook is blowing up with pictures of people writing letters. The Guinness people are watching to see if this letter-writing campaign will make it into their Book of World Records. (The current record-holder for a letter-writing campaign is 900,000 letters written for Amnesty International.) What’s the story? While the news is busy arguing about to what extent Russia may have interfered in the recent American election, Russia has been quietly, dramatically restricting the freedoms of one specific group of their citizens. Maybe you read that and say, ‘Well, it is Russia, after all; aren’t they always restricting their citizens?’ No, actually. After the Soviet Union ended, Russia became a democratic society, with a constitution and everything. Section One Chapter 2 of that document reads: “Everyone shall be guaranteed the right to freedom of conscience, to freedom of religious worship, including the right to profess, individually or jointly with others, any religion, or to profess no religion, to freely choose, possess and disseminate religious or other beliefs, and to act in conformity with them.” That’s even clearer than the freedom of religion guaranteed by the United States constitution. In spite of that guarantee, the government of Russia has petitioned their Supreme Court to brand Jehovah’s Witnesses as extremists, in the same league as ISIS. If that move succeeds it will become illegal for the 170,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in that country to meet for worship, to discuss the bible with others, or even to read the bible in their own homes. The case is scheduled to be heard on April 5, 2017. In response, the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses has asked all 8,000,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide to write to six key officials in Moscow, including Vladimir Putin himself. From the United States, mailing those six letters to Moscow costs about $7. In some other countries, it could cost a family a significant portion of their monthly income. Yet, based on reports on Facebook, Jehovah’s Witnesses, their friends and business associates are pitching in with a will. Total cost of postage, according to one Facebooker, will be over $55 million, based just on the U.S. rate. If 8,000,000 people each send six letters, another Facebook mathematician calculated, the Moscow post office can expect a stack of mail nearly 19 miles high! A handful of other websites have circulated the news about the impending court decision and the letter-writing campaign against it: Rochester, NY: Jehovah’s Witnesses plead for freedom, mercy, in Russia crackdown The University of Missouri’s Religion News Service: Jehovah’s Witnesses Fear Russian Government may Ban Them The Philippines: Pinoy Jehovah’s Witnesses join call vs threat of Russia ban Sierra Leone: Jehovah’s Witnesses Mobilize Global Response to Threat of Ban in Russia Michigan’s Mission Network News: Religious Freedom and the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia Spokane, Washington: Jehovah’s Witnesses protest label Trinidad and Tobago: Russia: Witnesses a terrorist group Ghana, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Zambia websites also reposted the news release from jw.org. Headlines from pro-Russian news sources have a somewhat different outlook. Russia’s English-language Sputnik reads: Enough is enough! Jehovah’s Witnesses face Ban On Tuesday, the Helsinki Commission, which includes U.S. Senators and congressmen, condemned the planned Russian legal move. While their sentiments are appreciated, the millions of letters pouring in from around the world are far more likely to sway Moscow than a handful of American politicians. If your local news outlet hasn't covered this story, please feel free to send them the link to this column. http://www.biblefriendlybooks.com/2017/03/worldwide-letter-writing-campaign.html?m=1
  16. Russian Government Seeks to Ban Jehovah's Witnesses April 03, 2017 5:00 PM Victor Vladimirov FILE - Stacks of booklets distributed by members of Jehovah's Witnesses are seen during the court session in the Siberian town of Gorno-Altaysk, Dec. 16, 2010. Share Print See comments MOSCOW — Several U.S. legislators have criticized the Russian government for plans to effectively ban the Jehovah's Witnesses, a nontraditional Christian movement, as an "extremist" organization. On March 15, Russia's Justice Ministry filed a claim with the country's Supreme Court, calling on it to designate the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia an "extremist" organization and liquidate the group's national headquarters and 395 local chapters in Russia. Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian Christian group founded in the United States in the 1870s. It is known, among other things, for door-to-door preaching and refusing to perform military service, salute national flags or accept blood transfusions. Its adherents have frequently been persecuted by authoritarian governments, including that of the former Soviet Union. "At stake in the upcoming court case is the legality and, perhaps, the survival of the Jehovah's Witnesses — and, in fact, basic religious freedom — throughout the Russian Federation," said Congressman Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who co-chairs the U.S. Helsinki Commission. "If the Supreme Court of Russia declares this faith group an extremist organization, it is an ominous sign for all believers and it marks a dark, sad day for all Russians." Russia's Justice Ministry reported on its website last week that since 2009, it has identified 95 materials of "an extremist nature" that were brought into Russia and circulated in the country, according to the Tass news agency. Tass quoted the website saying, "As many as eight local cells of the organization were recognized to be extremist ones, banned and disbanded since 2009." FILE - The iconic Watchtower sign is seen on the roof of 25-30 Columbia Heights, the current world headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Dec. 9, 2015. However, Anatoly Pchelintsev, chief editor of the magazine Religion and Law, said the accusations are incompatible with the principle of freedom of religion. "Formally, the semblance of legitimacy is observed [by the Justice Ministry]," he told VOA's Russian Service. "However, there is actually no extremist activity and, in fact, it is baseless and bogus. There are multiple videotapes showing how banned literature is planted [on Jehovah's Witnesses]." If the Supreme Court rules against Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, its 175,000 followers face the threat of criminal prosecution. That, according to Pchelintsev, would be "total madness." "Of course, there will absolutely be prison sentences, just like it was in Taganrog [in southern Russia's Rostov region], where 15 innocent people were sentenced," he said. "But a majority [of the Jehovah's Witnesses] will go underground. They will also be congregating, praying and so on. Stalin couldn't do anything about them even though he deported them to the North. Hitler also couldn't do anything about them, even though he sent them to concentration camps and physically destroyed them." Pchelintsev recalled that the Jehovah's Witnesses were recognized in the early 1990s as having been victims of political repression during the Soviet period, and received official documents to that effect. "If they're being banned now, should their documents be revoked?" he asked. "And then, after a while, when a new president is elected, should they receive their documents back? It's a bizarre logic. We cannot live according to the constitution; we're constantly looking for an enemy, either external or internal." Pchelintsev added: "You may not share their beliefs and there can be different attitudes toward them," he said. "However, from the standpoint of law and the constitution, they have every right to exist. Otherwise, we will become the first country in the modern world to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses." Valery Borshchev, a veteran human rights activist and member of the Russian branch of the International Association of Religious Freedom, agrees that harassment of the Jehovah's Witnesses violates the principles of religious freedom. "The Jehovah's Witnesses are not involved in any extremist activity," he told VOA. "Yes, they have some controversial views that confuse others — for example, the ban on blood transfusions. But it's a debatable issue." In any case, said Borshchev, this has nothing to do with extremist activity. "All the accusations against them are unfair and anti-constitutional," he said. "It violates the principles of the freedom of belief and conscience enshrined in the constitution." According to Borshchev, those calling for the Jehovah's Witnesses to be banned do not understand the nature of religious organizations. "They would do well to learn the history of religious movement in the Soviet Union, where nobody could do anything about the alternative churches," he said. "The same thing will happen now. More than that, this adversarial position will escalate the conflict. The members of the organization will feel like they have a mission and it will strengthen their rigor." According to the Helsinki Final Act, which was signed by the 57 participating countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation Europe (OSCE), including Russia, "the participating States will recognize and respect the freedom of the individual to profess and practice, alone or in community with others, religion or belief acting in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience." VOA's Svetlana Cunningham contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with VOA's Russian Service.
  17. GENEVA (4 April 2017) – Moves by the Russian Government to ban the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses using a lawsuit brought under anti-extremism legislation have been condemned as “extremely worrying” by three United Nations human rights experts*.  “This lawsuit is a threat not only to Jehovah’s Witnesses, but to individual freedom in general in the Russian Federation,” the experts said.  “The use of counter-extremism legislation in this way to confine freedom of opinion, including religious belief, expression and association to that which is state-approved is unlawful and dangerous, and signals a dark future for all religious freedom in Russia,” they stressed.  The condemnation follows a lawsuit lodged at the country’s Supreme Court on 15 March to declare the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Centre ‘extremist’, to liquidate it, and to ban its activity.   A suspension order came into effect on that date, preventing the Administrative Centre and all its local religious centres from using state and municipal news media, and from organizing and conducting assemblies, rallies and other public events.  A full court hearing is scheduled for 5 April and if the Supreme Court rules in favour of the authorities, it will be the first such ruling by a court declaring a registered centralized religious organization to be ‘extremist’.  Concerns about the counter-extremism legislation have previously been raised in a communication by the three experts to the Russian authorities on 28 July 2016.   The Suspension Order imposed on 15 March is the latest in a series of judicial cases and orders, including a warning sent to the organization last year referring to the ‘inadmissibility of extremist activity’. This has already led to the dissolution of several local Jehovah’s Witness organizations, raids against their premises and literature being confiscated.   “We urge the authorities to drop the lawsuit in compliance with their obligations under international human rights law, and to revise the counter-extremism legislation and its implementation to avoid fundamental human rights abuses,” the UN experts concluded.  (*) The experts: Mr. David Kaye (USA), Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. Maina Kiai (Kenya), Special Rapporteur on freedoms of peaceful assembly and of association, and Mr. Ahmed Shaheed (the Maldives), Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.   The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.   UN Human Rights, country page: Russian Federation   - See more at
  18. Comissão de Direitos Humanos condena processo contra as Testemunhas de Jeová na Rússia O presidente da Comissão de Segurança e Cooperação da Europa, conhecida como Comissão de Helsinque, senador Roger Wicker, juntamente com o representante e co-presidente da comissão, Chris Smith e o representante e comissário Richard Hudeson, condenaram o pedido de processo do governo russo para proibir as Testemunhas de Jeová de praticar sua adoração no país. “É um erro aplicar leis falhas contra o terrorismo àqueles que querem praticar sua fé. Existem realmente ameaças de extremismo violento, mas o governo russo está se aproveitando delas para prejudicar a liberdade de religião naquele país. Isso desvia a atenção dos verdadeiros esforços para combater o terrorismo. Eu apelo que o governo russo desista do caso imediatamente", disse o presidente. “O que está em jogo no julgamento que vai ocorrer é a legitimidade e talvez a sobrevivência das Testemunhas de Jeová. Se o Supremo Tribunal da Rússia declarar esse grupo religioso como uma organização extremista, será um mau sinal para todos os crentes e um dia triste e sombrio que vai marcar para sempre vida de todos os cidadãos russos", completou o co-presidente Smith. Por fim, o comissário Hudson declarou: “Como forte apoiador da liberdade de religião, estou chocado com o governo russo por tratar um grupo religioso como ameaça à segurança nacional. Nunca se deve perseguir pessoas por causa da religião". No dia 15 de março, o Ministério da Justiça da Rússia entrou com um pedido no tribunal para classificar o Centro Administrativo das Testemunhas de Jeová, do país, como um grupo extremista. Se a decisão do Supremo Tribunal for contra o Centro Administrativo, as 175 mil Testemunhas de Jeová na Rússia poderão ser processadas criminalmente por praticar sua fé. De acordo com a Ata Final de Helsinque, assinada por todos os 57 estados participantes da Organização de Segurança e Cooperação na Europa, incluindo a Rússia, “os estados participantes reconhecerão e respeitarão a liberdade que todo indivíduo tem de pertencer e praticar, sozinho ou com outros, uma religião ou ato religioso de acordo com o que a sua consciência permite". http://atarde.uol.com.br/mundo/noticias/1850932-comissao-de-direitos-humanos-condena-processo-contra-as-testemunhas-de-jeova-na-russia
  19. Jehovah's Witnesses counter sue Ministry of Justice JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES ASK SUPREME COURT TO FIND JUSTICE MINISTRY'S ACTIONS TO BE POLITICAL REPRESSIONS Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 2 April 2017 An unprecedented lawsuit was filed on 30 March 2017 in the Supreme Court of Russia: to rule the actions of the Ministry of Justice against the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses to be political repressions. Comprehensive and reasonable, the aforesaid lawsuit is a counterclaim with respect to the lawsuit of the Ministry of Justice of 15 March 2017, in which the ministry asks for banning and recognizing as extremist the "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia," and also 395 local organizations of this religion on the territory of Russia. The actions of the Ministry of Justice possess the indicators of political repressions, from the point of view of Russian and international law. They violate articles 18, 9, and 6 of the Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Liberties. In Russia, the concept of repressions is defined by the law "On rehabilitation of victims of political repressions." Repressions include politically motivated action of organs of government for restriction of the rights and liberties of citizens who are considered to be dangerous for the state, including on the basis of religious identity. The lawsuit of the Ministry of Justice is aimed at associations of citizens selected exclusively on the basis of their confessing the faith of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Analysis of the actions of the Ministry of Justice with respect to Jehovah's Witnesses gives evidence of arbitrariness and discrimination. For example, laboratories and centers of forensic expert analysis that are subordinate to the Ministry of Justice have come to diametrically opposite conclusions about the presence or absence of indicators of "extremism" in the very same publications of Jehovah's Witnesses. Such a contradiction in and of itself is evidence of the unacceptable weakness of the methods. But, instead of striving to establish the truth, ensuring the unity and consistency of proper expert conclusions, the Ministry of Justice has used in courts only those conclusions that have led to finding books of Jehovah's Witnesses to be "extremist," and consequently to finding their organizations to be "extremist." In the lawsuit numerous instances are cited testifying to the fact that prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses is politically motivated. Believers of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses have already been recognized as victims of political repressions, by the order of the Russian president "On measures for rehabilitation of clergy and believers who have been victims of unjustified repressions." Russian legislation has condemned the years-long terror and massive persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses as incompatible with the ideals of right and justice, has expressed deep sympathy for the victims of unjustified repressions and to the relatives and neighbors, and has declared the unwavering attempt to achieve real guarantees of maintaining legality and human rights. The Russian Supreme Court will begin consideration of the lawsuit on 5 April 2017. (tr. by PDS, posted 3 April 2017)
  20. LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES FILE 395 PETITIONS IN SUPREME COURT FOR ENTRY INTO CASE Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 31 March 2017 All 395 local religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, which the Ministry of Justice is trying to ban behind their backs, have filed petitions in the Supreme Court to be involved in the case in the capacity of co-defendants. According to existing legislation, all local religious organizations are individual legal entities, with their own property, and they are not structural subdivisions, affiliates, nor representatives of one another. They are united to the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia only by unity in the faith and internal canonical relations. An absolute majority of these organizations have never been accused of violating the law. They are puzzled why the Ministry of Justice is demanding their liquidation, prohibition, and recognition as "extremist," especially behind their back. They are especially alarmed that after the liquidation of the organizations, believers may be held criminally liable merely for joint reading of the Bible, as shown by the criminal "Case of the Sixteen" in Taganrog. ----------------- Jehovah's Witnesses not properly notified of suspension JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES APPEAL IN COURT JUSTICE MINISTRY ORDER SUSPENDING ACTIVITY OF THEIR ORGANIZATIONS Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 31 March 2017 The Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia appealed in court the order of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian federation regarding suspension of the activity of all 396 registered organizations of this religion in Russia. The order was issued by the ministry simultaneously with the filing of the plaintiff's declaration in the Supreme Court of the RF for prohibition of all their organizations. Although this order of suspension pertains to all 396 organizations, the Ministry of Justice sent it only to the address of their Administrative Center, and even then, judging by the stamp on the envelope, only five days after it was signed. Believers hope that the court will rule the aforesaid order to be invalid.
  21. Google translate: The Christian Assembly of Jehovah's Witnesses April 1, 2017 TO ALL MEETINGS Theme: Using the Synodal Translation of the Bible in New Conditions Dear brothers! From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank you for your active participation in the campaign to write letters. Your participation in this campaign was a clear testimony of brotherly love in action (1 Peter 2:17). At the same time, we realize that the most important thing that we can do to support our brothers facing persecutions is to offer our prayers to Jehovah for them.(Read 1 Timothy 2: 1--4.) As already reported, the Ministry of Justice wants to impose a ban on the activities of the Christian congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. If the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation decides to ban, this will negatively affect more than 175,000 of our brothers and sisters, on their honorable duty to carry God's words from door to door. Perhaps opponents think in this way to hinder the preaching work, but our main tool is the Bible, and we can participate even more diligently in the preaching work (1 Corinthians 15:58, Ephesians 6:17). Although the translation of the New World has helped us for many years to better understand the truth and carry the message of the Kingdom of God to other people, but in the new conditions that have arisen in Russia, we must start using the synodal translation of the Bible again. This is necessary to avoid accusations of distortion of God's word from the world of Satan and discourage our opponents until the verdict of the Supreme Court. Your brothers, A copy of the district overseers Note for coordinators of councils of elders. Please ensure that this letter is read at the next meeting on weekdays, and also at a weekend meeting. Do not post this
  22. 22 CRIMEAN JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES ORGANIZATIONS SUBMIT DECLARATION TO RUSSIAN SUPREME COURT Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 30 March 2017 The Ministry of Justice is demanding to liquidate, find extremist, ban, and confiscate the buildings of all 396 registered organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, including 22 organizations in Crimea. For the 8,000 believers on the peninsula, who have professed their religion freely for decades, this news was completely unexpected. These 22 local religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in the republic of Crimea were registered on the initiative of Russian authorities in May 2015. Since then they have not received from the state any charges, fines, or warnings. Therefore they are extremely perplexed with regard to the initiative of the Ministry of Justice to ban them and to recognize them as extremist. Most disturbing is that the Ministry of Justice considered it possible to declare all these organizations outside the law—behind their back and without involving them in the case. The plaintiff's declaration—with much delay—was sent only to the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. For this reason, 22 Crimean local religious organizations filed in the Supreme Court a petition for involving them in the case in the capacity of an administrative co-defendant. They recall that in the Russian federation the right to judicial protection is among the basic inalienable rights.

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