Jehovah's Witnesses Banned by Russia's Supreme Court After 'Extremist' Tag Is Upheld

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There are around 175,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in Russian Federation.

Russia's Jehovah Witnesses have had several run-ins with law enforcement in recent years.

The church plans to appeal the decision, threatening to take Russian Federation to the European Court of Human Rights if it has to.

There are more than eight million Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide, with some countries classifying the group as a sect. Leaders of the group could face as many as 10 years in prison.

Jehovah's Witnesses will not be able to congregate for worship at their church or anywhere else.

Russia's Supreme Court outlawed the Jehovah's Witnesses Thursday, declaring the group a threat to national security and seizing its property.

The material obtained convinced officials that it was showing signs of "extremist activity", leading to several congregations being shut down, as well as bibles being impounded at customs and several of its publications banned as extremist.

The group, which has vowed to appeal the verdict, was earlier declared an extremist organization by a Moscow city court in January, state media reported.

The Justice Ministry began an investigation into the group's practices in February.

According to #Russia Jehovah's Witnesses are extremists and it is now illegal to be one.

Jehovah's Witnesses Russian branch, based near St Petersburg, has regularly rejected this allegation. "If the claim is satisfied, it would entail catastrophic consequences for the freedom of religion in Russian Federation". The closure order directly violates the pluralism of thought and belief that is foundational to a democratic society and as the court has repeatedly affirmed, is "at the very heart of the protection which [the convention] affords". "The Justice Ministry should withdraw the suit against the Jehovah's Witnesses organization and stop interfering with group's peaceful religious activity".



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