30 November 2012, 23:50

Taganrog: Jehovah's witnesses repeatedly accused of extremism

In the city of Taganrog of the Rostov Region, seventeen members of the organization Jehovah's Witnesses were repeatedly accused of extremism. The believers claim repeated violation of their rights to defence and plan to appeal against the charges.

The "Caucasian Knot" reported that the first charge was filed against the group of Taganrog Jehovah's Witnesses in May 2012. At the same time, investigator challenged the lawyers of the believers.

"On November 13 and 15, defendants faced repeated charges. The main reason for repeated charges is the fact that on May 31, 2012, when the charge were filed for the first time, the right of the defendants to the defence was violated," the "Caucasian Knot" was told by Anton Omelchenko, the lawyer of the defendants.

Four of the believers, the elders of the Jehovah's Witnesses communities, were charged of organizing a religious association, prohibited by the court for extremist activity (Part 1 of Articles 282.2 (o) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Besides, they were also accused of involving minors in activities, relating to incitement of religious hatred (Part 4 of Article 150 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) for the fact that the religious meetings were attended by minors with their parents. This was reported by the lawyer.

"The investigation has been going on for more than a year, and it is being prolonged and extended all the time," Grigory Martynov, Press Secretary of the Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, commented on the case.

In connection with the "case 17" and the situation with the prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Russian Federation in general, leading Russian human rights defenders sent an appeal to Yuri Chaika, General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, in which they emphasized the fact that in the face of the 17 accused Jehovah's Witnesses, the court judge all the followers of that religion in Russia. The human rights defenders point out to the fact that "the statement of its exclusive truth, peculiar to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, was treated by the prosecutor's office and the court as incitement of religious hatred and enmity, propaganda of religious superiority, and insult of the feelings of believers."

Author: Olesya Dianova; Source: CK correspondent

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