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The Russian Orthodox Church can be soon banned in Ukraine

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The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church) can be de facto banned in Ukraine. And this is more than half of all parishes of the ROC. The Church will be deprived of most of its flock and influence and will cease to be the largest Orthodox church in the world. Patriarch Kirill hurriedly wrote letters to world leaders asking for help.
"Such restrictive religious legislation did not work in Ukraine even during the communist regime, and in the rest of Europe something like this existed only during Nazi rule in Germany," Kirill said. The new laws will become "a blatant example of the violation of human rights to freedom of religious confession," the patriarch is indignant.
Earlier the temples of the UOC-MP had already been subjected to seizures, acts of vandalism, attacked and beaten the believers. Laws do not work? The rights are not respected? Terrible situation? Of course. And now it will intensify.
"All of the above arguments in defense of the Orthodox in Ukraine - in practice, the proof of the arguments in defense of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia", writes the religious expert Dmitry Klyachin.
The patriarch asks for protection, in particular, for Angela Merkel, whose opinion about the persecution of Jehovah's patriarchal witnesses was completely uninterested.
We will not gloat, but it is impossible not to remember: "Do not dig another pit ..."

 


 

 

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      On 20 April, the Russian Supreme Court found the activity of the "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" to be extremist and banned its work. Not long before that, the Russian Ministry of Justice put a stop to the work of the central office of the Jehovah's Witnesses organization because of rulings that 95 of the books the organization distributes are extremist. Telegraf talked with adherents of the organization in Russia and abroad and found out how their life will change after the ban.
       
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      Jehovah's Witnesses are law-abiding and they respect authority, whatever it is and however they are treated. Sergei Afanasiev says that followers of the teaching will not organize pickets or protest demonstrations. They will not be saboteurs, spies, terrorists, or pests. They will continue to be peaceful and honest people, and the only opposition will consist in their continuing to believe, gather together, fellowship, and speak about their faith with others.
       
      He said that if Jehovah's Witnesses are imprisoned, they will be model prisoners. "This is known from historical experience. In nazi camps, Jehovah's Witnesses accepted the rules of camp order as the law of the state and they obeyed them very precisely, but without violating their own principles. The Jehovah's Witness Elza Abt, a prisoner of Auschwitz, wrote in her memoirs that during the evacuation of the camp in January 1945, she and other women Jehovah's Witnesses were put on an ordinary passenger train. The convoy allowed them to occupy seats in various cars and practically did not guard them. They did not know the locality and they accidentally missed the station where they were supposed to transfer to another train. If they had escaped, nobody would look for them. But Elza and several of her fellow believers turned themselves in to the first SS they met and were put into the right camp. If they had acted differently, it would have placed the lives of hundreds of their fellow believers at risk," Sergei Afanasiev said.
       
      He added that all Jehovah's Witnesses' property is supposed to be confiscated. But the Kingdom Halls that the Jehovah's Witnesses use have various forms of ownership and some of them belong to foreign legal entities. That is, confiscating immovable property will not be as simple as the Ministry of Justice suggests. Practically all the buildings that the Jehovah's Witnesses use were built by the adherents themselves and wth their donations. "In light of this, confiscation of the property of religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses will possibly seem even more savage and blasphemous than the confiscation of property from the Orthodox Church after 1917," Sergei Afanasiev summed up.
       
      The ban of the Jehovah's Witnesses was a purely political decision, and the Russian Orthodox Church had nothing to do with it. "As regards possible pressure on the political authorities on the part of the RPTs, the dominant religious tradition in the country, which has a ramified structure, with the aim of eliminating competitors and changing the general cultural and world view field, and the public space and information field is saturated with these speculations. I think that they all are far from the truth, and on the "political" level everything is not so far," Viliam Shmidt, a professor of the Russian Academy of State Service and a religious studies scholar, explained for Telegraf.
       
      The expert said that adherents of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia are not as many as adherents of religiosity that is untraditional for Russia on the whole. "For the RPTs it would be more desirable if such small, untraditional religions did not have the status of 'religious,' but this is impossible, the religious studies scholar explained.
       
      In the event of a ban, Jehovah's Witnesses will go underground. "What is expected from the Jehovah's Witnesses after the ban? A rather strange question. What can one expect from 'fundamentalist' pacifists? They will live as before, to be sure now without the right of public associations. A large portion of them will find themselves in a compulsory shadow, in 'the religious underground,' as it was in the soviet period, when religious traditions were fought as public worldview vestiges. In the 21st century, fighting with ideas, not of a social and political order but of a metaphysical one, at the state level, is unfortunately extremely vulgar political views and practices," Viliam Shmidt concluded.  (tr. by PDS, posted 1 May 2017)
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      The U.S.A. Commission for Religious Liberty represents itself as a bi-partisan consultative agency within the federal American government, which is authorized to make political recommendations to the head of state, the secretary of state, and members of Congress. (tr. by PDS, posted 30 April 2017)

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      The U.S. State Department has condemned the Russian ban on Jehovah's Witnesses.
      "The United States is extremely concerned by the Russian government's actions targeting and repressing members of religious minorities, including Jehovah's Witnesses, under the pretense of combating extremism," Acting State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner told U.S. News by email late Thursday night.
      Earlier Thursday, the Russian Supreme Court called the pacifist religious sect extremist and ordered the shuttering of more than 300 chapters in the country.
      "We call on the Russian authorities to ensure that Russia's anti-terrorism and anti-extremism legislation is not misused to target members of peaceful religious minorities, including the Jehovah's Witnesses," Toner said. "The prosecution of peaceful religious minority groups for 'extremism' creates a climate of fear which itself undermines efforts to combat the threat of radicalization."
      Russian prosecutors had argued in court that the group is "a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security."
      The Justice Ministry showed pamphlets from the group that it argued posed "a threat to health."
      But the U.S. questioned the legal underpinning of such a ban.
      "Freedom of religion is critical to a peaceful, inclusive, stable, and thriving society. All religious minorities should be able to enjoy freedom of religion and assembly without interference, as guaranteed by the Russian Federation's constitution," Toner said.
      The Jehovah's Witnesses say they will appeal, within the appellate division of the Russian Supreme Court, and possibly to the European Court of Human Rights. 
      Corrected on April 21, 2017: This story has been updated to reflect the Russian court's actions and Toner's response took place on Thursday.

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    • By ARchiv@L
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    • By Ann O'Maly
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      BY  Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. APRIL 20TH 2017 The Supreme Court of Russia has a decision to make this week about whether to label the Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization and liquidate its assets. This act would transform the religious community into a criminal network, and make individual Witnesses vulnerable to arrest simply for speaking about their faith with others. While the court case has attracted recent media attention, this move is the culmination of two decades of increasing state hostility to Witnesses. In the late 1990s, Moscow took the Witnesses to court to deny them legal standing in the city limits. After several years of court hearings, the city banned the organization. In more recent years, anti-extremism laws drafted in the wake of domestic terrorism have been turned against Witness magazines and books. Currently, over eighty publications have been placed on the federal list of extremist materials. Even their website is now illegal. So is My Book of Bible Stories, an illustrated book for children, listed alongside publications by terrorist organizations.
      If the state criminalizes the Witnesses, it will represent a major deterioration in religious toleration in post-Soviet Russia. It will also put Russia at odds with the European Court of Human Rights, which has repeatedly ruled in favor of the Witnesses in the past two decades. It may make other minority faiths vulnerable to similar legal challenges. In the 1990s, scholars spoke of a newly opened religious marketplace, in which post-Soviet citizens, freed from the constraints of state-enforced atheism, shopped around among the faith traditions. It is fair to say that these days, this marketplace has fewer customers, fewer stalls, and more regulations.
      If history is any guide, Russia will find it nearly impossible to eliminate Jehovah’s Witnesses. Soviet dissident author Vladimir Bukovsky once admiringly wrote of the Witnesses’ legendary persistence under ban. When the Soviet Union barred religious literature from crossing its borders, Witnesses set up underground bunkers to print illegal magazines for their congregations. When Soviet officials prohibited Witnesses from hosting religious services, they gathered in small groups in their apartments, often in the middle of the night. Sometimes they snuck away to nearby woods or out onto the vast steppe, where they could meet with less scrutiny. When the state told believers that they could not evangelize their faith to others, Witnesses chatted up their neighbors, coworkers, and friends. When these actions landed them in labor camps, Witnesses sought out converts among their fellow prisoners. Witnesses are certain to revive many of these tactics if placed in similar circumstances in the future.
      Moreover, technology makes it far more difficult for Russia to control the religious practices of its citizens. Although the Witnesses’ official website is no longer available in Russia, individual members can easily share religious literature through email or dozens of other social media platforms and apps. While Soviet Witnesses had to write coded reports and hand-deliver them through an underground courier network, Witnesses today can text this information in seconds. Technology will also facilitate meeting times for religious services in private homes.
      The Russian government simply does not have the manpower to enforce its own ban. It is hard to imagine that local officials could effectively prevent over 170,000 people across more than 2,000 congregations from gathering together multiple times per week, as Witnesses do worldwide. The case of Taganrog is instructive. Several hundred Witnesses lived there in 2009, when the city declared the organization illegal. A few years later, it convicted sixteen Witnesses for ignoring the ban and continuing to gather their congregations for services. The state spent over a year in investigations and court hearings for sixteen people, a tiny fraction of the total congregation, and then suspended the sentences and fines rather than waste more resources in following through on its punishment guidelines. There are not enough police officers in Russia to monitor the daily activities of each and every Witness, and the Witnesses know it. Under a ban, everyone will face more scrutiny, a few will be dealt more serious consequences, and most will continue practicing their faith regardless.
      Russia may nonetheless decide that all of this conflict is worth it. After all, Soviet officials were fairly successful in relegating Witnesses to the margins of society. Few Russians will complain if Witnesses no longer come to knock on their door. After all, even Americans rarely have kind words for religious missionaries at their own doorsteps. In my own research, I have never heard a single Russian, other than a scholar, say anything positive about Witnesses. For the record, my experience with Americans has been similar. On a more basic level, Russian citizens may not even notice the Witnesses’ absence from public life. While the post-Soviet period saw a religious revival for all faiths, far fewer joined the Witnesses than the Russian Orthodox Church. For all their recent growth in membership, the Witnesses remain a tiny minority in a largely secular society.
      The vocal determination of Witnesses not to acquiesce to state demands should not cause observers to overlook the very real damage a ban would do to this community. Yes, Witnesses have faced similar challenges before and have dealt with them. For decades, they held their baptisms in local rivers and lakes under cover of night. In the post-Soviet period, new members were finally able to celebrate their baptisms in full view of their fellow believers at public conventions. A long-time Witness who attended one of these events in the early 1990s recalled, “What happiness, what freedom!” A new ban would mean a return to this underground life, to a hushed ceremony in cold waters. This is not what freedom of conscience looks like in modern states.
      Emily B. Baran is the author of  Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. . Her work explores the shifting contours of dissent and freedom in the Soviet Union and its successor states. She is Assistant Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University.
    • By B Myers
      Russia’s Supreme Court Begins High-Profile Case Against Jehovah’s Witnesses
      NEW YORK—Today, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation began consideration of a claim from the Ministry of Justice to liquidate the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. The Court announced a recess, and the hearing will resume Thursday, April 6, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. The Witnesses had filed a counterclaim with the Court on March 30, 2017, against the Ministry of Justice. Today, however, the counterclaim was dismissed by the Court prior to the recess of the hearing. The Court also refused to allow experts to testify about the basis for the claim of the Ministry of Justice and refused to allow those who witnessed the falsification of evidence against local religious organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses to testify.
      The high-profile nature of the case is sparking coverage by international news outlets, including an article in Time magazine posted online on April 4 (“Russian Supreme Court Considers Outlawing Jehovah’s Witness Worship”) and a front-page article in the print edition of The New York Times (“Pacifist, Christian and Threatened by Russian Ban as ‘Extremist’”) on April 5.
      “We certainly hope that Russia’s Supreme Court will uphold the rights of our fellow believers in Russia to freely carry out their peaceful worship,” adds David A. Semonian, a spokesman at the Witnesses’ world headquarters in New York. “Millions of people around the world will be watching carefully to see how the case progresses and if Russia acts to protect its own law-abiding citizens who are Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
      https://www.jw.org/en/news/releases/by-region/russia/supreme-court-begins-case-against-jehovahs-witnesses/
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Baku. April 10. INTERFAX – the state Committee for work with religious organizations in cooperation with law enforcement bodies of Azerbaijan have stopped the illegal activities of members of the sect “Jehovah’s Witnesses”, the press service of the Ministry.
      “GCRs together with law enforcement bodies held on 9 April on the territory of Garadagh district of Baku swift action on two addresses. As a result of the activities was identified and stopped an illegal meeting of members of nontraditional religious movements “Jehovah’s Witnesses”, – stated in the message.
      It is noted that out of 33 participants of meetings in two locations ten were young children.
      In addition, were found and withdrawn in a large amount of propaganda literature of “Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
      The investigation is ongoing.

      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.
    • By ARchiv@L
      now translated in english (from russian)
      download

      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  
      (for our archives):
      russiareport_proof-3.pdf
       
    • By ARchiv@L
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.     APRIL 7, 2017

      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. 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

    • By ARchiv@L
      APRIL 7, 2017

      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. 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
       
       
    • By ARchiv@L
      APRIL 6, 2017

      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. 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
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