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Jehovah's Witnesses of Serov lose appeal in court


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Молоток судьи. Архивное фото

IN URALS, COURT RULES JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES' BROCHURE EXTREMIST
RIA Novosti, 22 August 2016
 
The Sverdlovsk provincial court upheld the decision of the Serov city court finding a brochure of the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses to be extremist material, the provincial court reported on Monday.
 
"The Sverdlovsk provincial court dismissed without consideration the appeals of persons who filed them, inasmuch as the rights and obligations of the latter were not affected by the decision of the court," the report says.
 
According to information of the court, in January 2015 representatives of the Jehovah's Witnesses organization in Serov distributed printed religious productions in one of the local shopping centers. The contents of the 16-page brochure titled "How did life appear?" caught the attention of the city prosecutor's office. The book was sent for several expert analyses which established that the publication contains statements intended to inflame hatred and hostility toward other religions.
 
On the basis of the conclusion of experts, the Serov city prosecutor filed in court a petition to find the brochure "How did life appear?" extremist material. During the judicial proceedings a comprehensive judicial religious studies psycho-linguistic expert analysis was ordered and arguments of specialists—philologists, religious studies scholars, philosophers, and psychologists—were heard, who agreed in the opinion that "the contents of the literature points to the exclusivity and superiority of the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses over other religions," the court specified. Also the report notes that in it the use of violence toward representatives of another faith is justified.
 
The Serov city court ruled the brochure to be extremist materials and issued a decision for the forfeiture of this material. However the respondents did not agree and they filed an appeal. The attorney for the members of the Jehovah's Witnesses association tried to persuade the court that forfeiture of the printed productions is a violation of the civil rights of members of a religious society to ownership of the brochures as property. He also petitioned to prohibit the Russian Ministry of Justice from publishing a list of extremist materials containing the aforesaid publication, the court reports.
 
Representatives of the Jehovah's Witnesses regularly have problems with the law in Russia. This year a court liquidated for extremism organizations in Belgorod and Stary Oskol, and in 2015, in Obninsk, Kaluga province.
 
In 2014, the Supreme Court of the RF ruled the website and three books of the Witnesses to be extremist. Also a Kurgan court ruled another several brochures of the Witnesses to be extremist. In late December 2013 there was a report about holding the leaders of the Tobolsk group of this organization criminally responsible, who were accused of extremism and forbidding blood transfusion, because of which one of the devotees nearly died.
 
In 2004 a court in Moscow dispersed the congregation of Witnesses and forbade its activity. The congregation was found guilty specifically of enticing children, encouraging believers to break up their families, and encouraging suicide and refusal of medical help. In 2010 the European Court for Human Rights ruled this court's decision illegal and required Russia to pay the victims 70 thousand Euros. 

Background articles: 
May 26, 2016
More Jehovah's Witnesses' materials added to extremist list

Appeal of Serov Jehovah's Witnesses denied by court

 

National Jehovah's Witnesses center defends member

DOCUMENT: LETTER OF PRESS SERVICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE CENTER OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES IN RUSSIA
"Law enforcement agencies of the RF mount aggressive attempts to accuse a peaceful religious organization of 'extremism'"
 
Esteemed editors of Portal-credo.ru
 
In response to your article "77-year-old Jehovah's Witness in Sverdlovsk province suspected of extremism," we communicate the following:
 
In the course of several years now, Russian authorities have been mistakenly applying the law "On combating extremist activity" for restricting the peaceful activity of Jehovah's Witnesses. At the present time, more than 80 items published by Jehovah's Witnesses have been entered into the Federal List of Extremist Materials. Jehovah's Witnesses consider this a mistake and have sought in courts the exclusion of their books and brochures from this list. Nevertheless they do not import and do not distribute these publications. However despite this, law enforcement agencies of the RF mount ever more aggressive attempts to accuse a peaceful religious organization, officially registered in Russia, of "extremism."
 
In particular, law enforcement agencies actively employ falsified evidence (planted materials from the Federal List of Extremist Materials, testimony of false witnesses) in order to fine believers.
 
In the course of expert investigation, the Russian Ministry of Justice established that the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses does not represent any kind of danger or threat for public welfare. This has also been confirmed repeatedly by judicial decisions issued by the authoritative European Court for Human Rights. The word "Russia," which was incorporated in 1999 into the official name of the centralized religious organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, testifies according to law to the fact of the existence of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia for a term of more than 50 years. For a century, Jehovah's Witnesses in the territory of Russia have demonstrated their unconditional peace loving ways, refusing to cause harm to people even under threat of prison confinement.
 
From Valentina Kuznetsova, an elderly woman from the city of Serov, more than 870 publications, of which only 51 have been entered into the Federal List of Extremist Materials, were seized. In the main these were magazines composed of stitched and glued sheets from years ago, which Valentina has preserved in her home in her domestic library for personal use. Of course the woman was not even able to think about distributing publications in this form to anybody. Besides, Valentina has not been a member of the founders of the local religious organization (legal entity) of Jehovah's Witnesses of Serov for more than a year now, which is confirmed by documents.
 
Valentina explains: "As a believing person, I have collected biblical literature since 1992, well before the creation of the local religious organization, and after its registration in 1998 I continued to assemble my library without its (the organization's) participation. I kept the seized materials in a personal library in my apartment, that is, in a place to which access is available to an unrestricted circle of persons, without the aim of distribution, and in single copies. I have not taken them out of my home and I have not distributed them to anybody."
 
Attorney Vitaly Svintsov, who is conducting this case, commented on the situation thus: "The judges did not take into account the explanation of the Russian Ministry of Justice that information in the Universal Registry of Legal Entities about 'founders' of a religious organization is entered only once and is not changed even in the event of the termination of their membership, since it pertains only to the moment of the creation of a noncommercial organization. In and of itself, membership in a religious organization cannot be viewed as evidence of committing civil violations of law, including the existence 'of goals of mass distribution,' while possessing extremist materials. Otherwise there occurs impermissible religious discrimination (article 19 of the constitution of the RF, article 14 of the above indicated convention, and article 26 of the above indicated international pact)."
 
With respect,
Press Service of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia
27 May 2016 Russian original posted on Portal-credo.ru site, 1 June 2016

 

 

 

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