Jehovah's Witnesses banned in Russia as court declares it 'extremist'

Russia labels Jehovah's Witnesses 'extremist group,' seizes property

According to Sputnik News, Judge Yuri Ivanenko said: '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 Russian Federation'.

A lawyer for the justice ministry, Svetlana Borisova, told the court that adherents "pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security".

On Thursday, Russia's Supreme Court ruled that Jehovah's Witnesses was an "extremist" organization after the justice ministry applied for an order to shut down the group's national headquarters near St Petersburg, Russian TASS news agency reported.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe in a distinct version of Christianity with its own interpretation of the Bible.

The ruling declares the Jehovah's Witnesses Administrative Center an extremist organization, closes the organization on those grounds, and bans all Jehovah's Witnesses' activities.

The court ordered the government to seize the Christian group's property, upholding a motion by Russia's Justice Ministry to terminate the group's activities in the country. The religious organization has expanded around the world and has about eight million active followers.

A member of the Council of Europe and a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, Russia is obligated to protect freedom of religion and association.

A number of books and pamphlets by Jehovah's Witnesses have also been banned in Russian Federation in the past years.

"We will do everything possible", Sergei Cherepanov, a Jehovah's Witnesses representative, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. People found to be leading such activity would face a maximum 10 years.

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

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

"It's not too late for the Russian authorities to make right this serious move against religious freedom", Denber said.