April 6, 2017，Russian Supreme Court OKs Ban on Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is an international religious organization based in Brooklyn, New York. It has been classified an extremist organization by Russia government. The country’s Justice Ministry filed a request with the nation’s supreme court against the group potentially endangering the 175,000 members in the country.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, with a history of over 140 years worldwide, first filed to be a recognised religion, a requirement in Russia, in 1991. They were granted renewal in 1999, according to the group’s international website.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia
Despite the official recognition, Jehovah’s Witness groups have faced periodic harassment by law enforcement at the local level.
Since 2004 sever branches and chapters of the organization were banned and shut down in various regions of Russia.
In 2009, a court ruled a Russian-language version of the group’s publication The Watchtower an extremist publication and barred it. In 2015, a Russian court ruled the group’s website was also an extremist publication.
In 2016, a Moscow court issued a warning to the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia over extremist activities. Under the Russian legislation if a religious organization fails to eliminate the exposed violations or if new evidence of extremist activities is exposed, the organization is to be closed down. The Moscow City Court on January 16 upheld the warning.
On January 25, chairman of the Jehovah’s Witnesses branch in the town of Dzerzhinsk was fined 4,000 rubles ($67) for keeping and distributing extremist literature banned in Russia.
Russian officials raided the group’s national headquarters in February and confiscated a reported 70,000 documents that were turned over to the Russian General Prosecutor’s office.
Local prosecutors have likened the religion to a cult and have called it a danger to Russian families.
The international head of the Jehovah’s Witnesses estimated there are about 175,000 practicing members in Russia in some 2,200 congregations.
The press office for the Russian branch of the religion released a statement Thursday in response to the filing, saying it would represent “dire consequences” for religious freedom in Russia if approved. “Extremism is deeply alien to the Bible-based beliefs and morality of Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia
The Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been put on the list of non-governmental and religious organizations whose activity has been suspended for extremism. In its suit the Justice Ministry mentions a variety of violations of Russian legislation, including the federal law On Resistance to Extremist Activities.
April 6, 2017, Russia's Supreme Court has upheld the decision of a Russian city to ban Jehovah's Witnesses as an extremist group. The decision Thursday came amid proceedings on a Justice Ministry suit to ban the religious organization in Russia altogether. That means Russia has already declared Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization, will ban and terminate its activities in the country.
Jehovah Witnesses emerged from the Bible Student movement, founded in the late 1870s by Charles Taze Russell with the formation of Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society, with organizational and doctrinal changes under the leadership of Joseph Franklin Rutherford.
The name Jehovah witness was adopted in 1931 to distinguish themselves from other Bible Student groups and symbolise a break with the legacy of Russell’s traditions.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are best known for their door-to-door preaching, distributing literature such as The Watchtower and Awake!, and refusing military service and blood transfusions.