Supreme Court bans Jehovah’s Witnesses
Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses from operating anywhere in the country, accepting a request from the Justice Ministry that the religious denomination be considered an extremist group.
The court ordered the closure of the Christian group’s Russia headquarters and its 395 local chapters and the seizure of its property. The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim more than 170,000 adherents in Russia.
The Interfax news agency on Thursday quoted Justice Ministry attorney Svetlana Borisova in court as saying that Jehovah’s Witnesses “pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security.” Borisova also said the denomination’s opposition to blood transfusions violates Russian health-care laws.
Yaroslav Sivulsky, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, said in a statement that the faith group is “greatly disappointed by this development and deeply concerned about how this will affect our religious activity.”