This week, Russia’s highest court officially labeled Jehovah’s Witnesses an “extremist” organization, banning the group from the country, Heat Street reported. On Thursday, Judge Yuri Ivanenko, who presided over the case, issued the following statement:
“The Supreme Court has ruled to sustain the claim of Russia’s Ministry of Justice and deem the ‘Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia’ organization extremist, eliminate it and ban its activity in Russia.”
Judge Ivanenko also announced that the Supreme Court will liquidate the group’s administrative center, as well as property from 395 local branches, for “state revenue.”
Speaking in court Thursday, Justice Ministry attorney Svetlana Borisova claimed Jehovah’s Witnesses “pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security,” the Associated Press reported.
It is unclear which actions or events relating to Jehovah’s Witnesses prompted such backlash. Thursday’s decision seems rather severe, especially in light of the recent religiously motivated attack in St. Petersburg, in which a jihadist killed 15 and injured dozens more. So far, there are no plans to label Islam an “extremist” religion.
Following the court’s ruling, Jehovah’s Witnesses representative Sergey Cherepanov told Russia’s Interfax news agency that the organization plans to appeal the decision.
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