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  1. ON 6/15/17 Just six weeks after Russia’s Supreme Court banned the practicing of their religion, two Jehovah’s Witnesses were given a parenting award by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The surprising move has fueled hope that the court could overturn the ruling that the Christian denomination constituted an “extremist” group when an appeal verdict is announced Saturday. “We view this award as an acknowledgment that the free Bible education provided by Jehovah’s Witnesses helps parents and their children to be productive citizens not only in Russia but all over the world,” David A. Semonian, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses at their world headquarters in New York, said in a statement last week. “We hope that this award presented by President Putin is considered on July 17, 2017, when the Russian Supreme Court reviews the decision to liquidate the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.” Valeriy and Tatiana Novik, from Karelia in the northwest of Russia, were given the Order of “Parental Glory,” bestowed annually to parents who are deemed to have raised seven or more children with “due care for their health, education and physical, spiritual and moral development.” The Noviks, who have eight children, were one of eight couples bestowed the award in a ceremony on May 31. “Families like yours, large and full of generous parental love, embody centuries-old traditions of empathy and kindness, show through their example that no obstacles stand before the desire to act constructively and do good, and offer beacons for those reflecting on their own choice of future road,” Putin said at the ceremony. It was on April 20 that Russia’s Supreme Court banned Jehovah’s Witnesses under the country’s anti-extremism law, liquidating all 395 of its local religious chapters and preventing its 175,000 members from attending worship meetings. In the time since, Jehovah’s Witnesses have faced harassment from police and violent attacks from the public. Jehovah's Witnesses sing at a meeting in Russia. Two Jehovah's Witnesses were recently given a prestigious parenting award, despite the group being regarded as "extremist."COURTESY OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES Just prior to the parenting award being handed out, a Danish Jehovah’s Witness was arrestedin the Russian city Oryol for attending a private meeting of the group. He is now facing up to 10 years in prison. The decision to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to the group’s Russian spokesman, Yaroslav Sivulskiy, did not come down to the evidence heard or the will of the court, but to politics. “It’s not this court, it’s not about justice, it’s not about a fair court hearing because even everyone who observed it said we won already, but even so we lost,” Sivulskiy told Newsweeklast month. “We have no big hope for the next level, only if some political wind will change somehow.” The religion of the Noviks was not brought up in the Kremlin’s reporting of the award—nor, the parents said, was it broached in their discussion with Putin. “There wasn't much time,” Valeriy Novik, a mechanic, told Radio Liberty’s Russian service this week. “You couldn't say everything. And I wanted to treat the head of state respectfully. A leader is a leader and we have to respect that. You don't express your problems, your complaints to him.” source Newsweek
  2. The decision vilifies the Witnesses and has emboldened some individuals and government officials to inflict further harm, as exemplified by recent incidents. Source
  3. 9 March 2017 A Jehovah’s Witness in London. ‘These were some of the most persecuted Christians of the 20th century.’ The small Siberian town of Birobidzhan is set in a mosquito-infested swampland on the far eastern end of the Trans-Siberian railway. It was to places such as this that the Soviets exiled various undesirables. In April 1951 more than 9,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses were rounded up and sent to Siberiaon Stalin’s instruction. They were allowed to take 150kg of their possessions with them. Everything else was confiscated by the state. You may walk past embarrassed as Jehovah’s Witnesses try and hand you cringeworthy religious literature on the high street. But these were some of the most persecuted Christians of the 20th century. And their persecution continues. A couple of months ago, the Russian police raided the Birobidzhan branch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and “discovered” extremist literature. The Jehovah’s Witnesses describe the incident thus: “Masked special police disrupted a religious meeting and planted literature under a chair in the presence of the attendees.” The police ordered the place to be permanently closed. A few weeks later, the Russian ministry of justice demanded that the Jehovah’s Witnesses HQ hand over all information on their 2,277 Russian congregations. After a brief examination of what the police allegedly found, it concluded that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were showing signs of “extremist activity”. Congregations in Belgorod, Stary Oskol and Elista have all been shut down. Bibles have been impounded at customs, their literature banned. Many expect that the Russians are gearing up for an outright ban. “Unfortunately, in today’s Russia, the will to confine Russians to restricted and state-determined religious beliefs has proved increasingly strong,” is how Andrew Wood, former British ambassador to Russia, described what has been going on. “Fabrication is always both repellent and a sign of desperation at the absence of credible proof of extremism.” So what is it about Jehovah’s Witnesses that the Russians find so objectionable? This week, I decided not to avoid the eye of the couple who hand out literature at my tube station. So many times I’ve ignored them, and their Olympic smiling endurance, brushing past grumpily. Reading about their history, I now feel guilty about my lack of respect. On open display was What Does the Bible Really Teach?, the book that the Russian authorities often plant in kingdom halls as an excuse to shut them down. I flicked through. It’s really not my thing. And the graphics are criminally cheesy. But it’s pretty bog-standard Christian fundamentalism, with an emphasis on the end of the world. “What makes the Jehovah’s Witnesses different?” I asked the smiling man. “We take the Bible literally,” he replied. “But so do others. What makes you distinctive?” “Take ‘thou shalt not kill,’” he replied. “We don’t participate in war.” Jehovah’s Witnesses were taken to Nazi death camps for that very reason. They refused to swear loyalty to a worldly government and refused to serve in the military. They wouldn’t say Heil Hitler either. So within months of the Nazis coming to power, their meetings were ransacked and a Gestapo unit was set up to register all known Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their children were taken off them to receive a proper patriotic German education. And they were given their own purple triangle to wear as identification. In 1942, Wolfgang Kusserow was beheaded in Brandenburg prison by the Nazis for refusing to fight. “You must not kill,” he said at his trial. “Did our creator have all this written down for the trees?” Jehovah’s Witnesses are right to fear what is happening to them again, right now, in Russia. They have seen it all before. It should be a warning to all of us that the idea under which they are now being persecuted is that of “extremism”. It’s a word that draws its persuasive force from those who would use their religion to plant bombs and sever heads. So anti-terror legislation is now also being used to target those whose faith is only “extreme” in terms of its commitment to non-violence. The Russians are using the fear of Islamism as an excuse to crack down on all religious activity that refuses to bow the knee to Mother Russia. “My parents were exiled to Siberia,” said Yaroslav Sivulskiy, a spokesman for the Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses. “They worshipped even while they were in those camps. We will continue too.” Respect, I say. Anti-terror legislation is being used to target those whose faith is only ‘extreme’ in terms of its commitment to non-violence. It should be a warning to us all. theguardian Russia: alleged "missionary activity" prosecutions continue
  4. RUSSIA. SCHOOL DIRECTORS FORCED TO REPORT CHILDREN WITNESSES ;-( Parents of child witnesses are being summoned to the school as the case accompanying this document, to warn them that if their child speaks of God to other classmates or sings songs from Jehovah's Witnesses, he will be reported to the police and will consider giving him ANOTHER FORM OF EDUCATION. Absolutely no other religion is receiving this bitter persecution even to their children. It is more than proven that the Russian government and its lover the Orthodox sect whore, have gone directly to the Jehovah's Witnesses. In connection with the decision of the Supreme Court, a schoolgirl faces a transfer to another form of education May 29, 2017 May 17, 2017 E. Mikhalevskaya, director of the school in Tomilino (Moscow region), in the presence of the school psychologist and the head of the guard, formally handed over to the parents of the 8-year-old student a document in which, referring to the decision of the Supreme Court against Jehovah's Witnesses, Notified about the ban on the school grounds "all actions that do not relate to the educational process." "If there is a violation of this prohibition," warns the director, "we will be forced to report a violation to the police officers, to the Education Department, and raise the issue of transferring the student to another form of training." In response to the questions of the parents, the director made it clear that she knew about the confession of the family. The girl sang songs of Jehovah's Witnesses, and also talked about God with a classmate. After the decision of the Supreme Court this is not the first case of pressure on schoolchildren, incidents took place in Bashkortostan, Rostov and Kirov regions. According to the legislation in force in Russia, parents have the pre-emptive right to educate and educate their children before all other persons. The duty of care for the "spiritual and moral development of their children" is placed on the parents' code by the Family Code.
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