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  1. By Andrew Osborn MOSCOW (Reuters) – Advisers to President Vladimir Putin have questioned the legality of a slew of criminal cases opened against members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and asked the General Prosecutor’s office to protect the group’s freedom of belief. Russia’s Supreme Court ruled in April last year that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were an “extremist” organisation and must disband, a move the group unsuccessfully appealed. Since then, at least 19 members have been detained on criminal charges in Russia with one, Danish citizen Dennis Christensen, now held for more than a year and put on trial for extremism. The Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, which advises Putin but does not have policy-making powers itself, said it believed law enforcement agencies were flouting the constitution and misinterpreting last year’s ruling by locking people up for collective bible reading and praying. “It cannot but be a cause for concern because the criminal prosecutions and detentions have taken on a systemic character,” the council said in a statement which the Jehovah’s Witnesses publicised on Thursday. “The situation evokes associations with the Soviet period when Jehovah’s Witnesses suffered groundless repression because of their faith.” The fact that the council has intervened on the group’s behalf does not necessarily mean that Putin will take up their cause though the subject is likely to be raised at the council’s next meeting with the Russian leader. ‘GLIMMER OF OPTIMISM’ The Jehovah’s Witnesses, a United States-based Christian denomination known for its door-to-door preaching and rejection of military service and blood transfusions, has around 170,000 followers in Russia. The U.S. State Department on Monday said it was deeply concerned by what it described as the growing number of religious prisoners held in Russia, saying that people were being persecuted “in retaliation for peaceful religious practice.” And on Tuesday, more than 60 well-known Russian writers, historians and rights activists signed an appeal demanding the authorities stop prosecuting the group, describing the legal onslaught on its members as a test for Russian society. Yaroslav Sivulskiy, a member of the European Association of Jehovah’s Witnesses, said on Thursday the council’s intervention had given his group “a glimmer of optimism.” “We hope that common sense will prevail and that someone wise … will say that this has all gone too far,” he said. “If the authorities can do this to us they can apply the same logic to do the same to anyone in Russia.” (Editing by Andrew Heavens)
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  2. Billions of rubles of the Jehovah's Witnesses fell into the hands of the Kremlin. Legally ARTICLE OF THE NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE. The translation is not perfect, but you can understand most of it. _______________________________ Jehovah's Witnesses "(banned in the Russian organization - Ed ..) In Russia recently made a list of extremist organizations, which are present, for example," Al-Qaeda "and LIH (both organizations banned in Russia - Ed ..) The followers of this religious tendency, which the Bible prohibits killing, looked with amazement at the way the Kremlin takes their property.The other day, the Municipal Court of Saint Petersburg admitted that this procedure was legal. The cost of the property confiscated only in St. Petersburg can exceed $ 13.9 million, that is, several billion rubles. City Court confirmed the judgment of first instance, which at the end of last year ruled that the 16 properties (land and buildings) in the elite neighborhood, which belonged to "Watchtower Society" (another name of the organization "Jehovah's Witnesses", prohibited in Russia - ed. Ed.), It will be transferred to state property, specifies the radio station "Ekho Moskvy". Judgment: Jehovah's Witnesses are extremists Not on the road with the state In an interview with The New York Times, Sivak said that, because of his faith, he lost his job (he was a physical education teacher). It is curious that before joining the Witnesses, in 2000 he voted for Putin and then did not participate in any opposition activity, although he stopped going to the polls. "I do not do politics at all," he emphasized. "Jehovah's Witnesses exist parallel to the state," explains Geraldine Fagan, author of the book Faith in Russia: a religious policy after communism. "They do not interfere in politics, which in itself seems suspicious," he says in a conversation with The New York Times. As the Russian unit is subordinated to American structures, and its members adopt such a cautious stance, it is more difficult for the Russian Orthodox Church and special services to monitor them. However, around the "Witnesses" there are several rumors that inflame the imagination of the authorities and the FSB. In the course of last year's Sivak trial, the prosecutor put it this way: "They show disrespect to the state, destroy public ties and undermine the foundations of national and state security." As a result, Sivak and another convicted member of the "Witnesses" were acquitted, however, it later turned out that they had not been removed from the list of terrorists. It was also clear that the Ministry of Justice has been following Jehovah's Witnesses for many years and believes they are violating the law to counter extremism. As a result, all movement structures, including 400 communities, which linked approximately 175,000 followers, were ordered to suspend their activities. The decisions of the authorities received propaganda support, while the Russians joined in the prosecution of the Witnesses. All this reminds us of the times of Stalin, when the members of the movement were sent to Siberia. They say that now communities across Russia are under pressure and that their property is being stolen. The courts can not help you in any way. Why does Putin persecute Jehovah's Witnesses? Although "Witnesses" often cause irritation among Russians for going to preach at home, it is difficult to accuse them of inciting the riot. The followers of this movement do not drink alcohol, do not smoke and do not accept the bloodshed to such an extent that they even reject blood transfusions. Social "passivity" makes them an easy target. "They can be used to give a signal to society," says Alexander Verkhovsky, director of the Sova Analytical Center, which studies extremism in Russia. The message says: "everyone should support Putin." Anyone who refuses to do so is a saboteur who prevents Russia from getting out of the knee, and any violation of the rules set by the authorities falls under anti-terrorist legislation. Until recently, the concept of "extremism" in Russian legislation was closely related to the use of violence, but they have changed so that the article was found in every is practically any "unfair" disloyal person. The foreign organization of the Russian Federation took the complex to the price of 880 million: it was used by the Jehovah's Witnesses updated: 04-05-2018 (13:19) St. Petersburg City Court on May 3 confirmed the decision of the District Court, according to which a complex of 14 buildings at the expense of more than 880 million rubles is withdrawn in favor of the state, said the center "Sova" list mail, received Kasparov.Ru. The decision was taken Sestroretsk District Court December 7, 2017 at the request of the prosecutor's office of the Resort District of St. Petersburg and the territorial administration of the Federal Property Agency, "the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania . " The complex of 33 thousand square meters in the village of Solnechnoye foreign religious organization owned since 2000. This is an old camp of pioneers, purchased by the Company of one of the Russian companies, by which the organization paid all taxes owed to its due time during these years. Since 2000, the management center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, which was not the owner of the property, has enjoyed the complex. The court considered the 2000 agreement null and void. The Management Center was declared an extremist in April 2017 and liquidated together with its 360 local organizations with the confiscation of property. Keep in mind that this is the second great wave of persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses by the state. On April 1 and 2, 1951, a "North" operation was carried out for the mass relocation to Siberia of supporters of the Jehovah's Witness organization and their families. In total, more than 8.5 thousand people were evicted (more than 3 thousand families). The property of the evicted was confiscated and applied to cover the costs of state obligations. Evicted people were given two hours to collect and 150 kg of things per family. Only in 1965, restrictions on the special solution were lifted and released from administrative supervision, the participants of "sects" -. Jehovah's Witnesses, True Orthodox Christians, Adventist-Reformist Innochentism and Their Families "Decree, paragraph 2, states that" the lifting of restrictions on a special settlement for such persons does not entail the return of confiscated property after the eviction " And the presumption of innocence? These are empty words in Russia. Sivaku himself had to prove that he was not an extremist, but a citizen respectful of the law. "They call me a terrorist, but I just wanted people to pay close attention to the words of the Bible," he explained.
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  3. 2 March 2017 MOSCOW (AP) - The leader of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia is calling on the head of the Kremlin's human rights council to prevent what the denomination fears is an imminent total ban on the religion. The Jehovah's Witnesses, who claim more than 170,000 faithful in Russia, have come under increasing pressure in recent years, including a ban on distributing literature deemed to violate Russia's anti-extremism laws. In February, investigators conducted an inspection of the religion's headquarters in St. Petersburg, which could be a precursor to a ban. "A ban on its activity in Russia would cause uneasiness throughout the world," the religion's Russian leader, Vasily Kalin, said in a letter to presidential human rights council head Mikhail Fedotov. A copy was made available to The Associated Press on Thursday. MailOnline

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