Regional Congress of Jehovah's Witnesses. Photo by Yulia Kasheta for the 'Caucasian Knot'.

23 April 2017, 18:15

Lawyers treat as bluff Russian MoJ's statement on freedom of worship for Jehovah's Witnesses

In Russia, the right of Jehovah's Witnesses to freedom of conscience will be regularly and massively violated after the liquidation of their local religious organizations. This opinion was voiced by lawyers and human rights defenders questioned by the "Caucasian Knot".

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on April 20, the Supreme Court (SC) of Russia granted the requests of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to liquidate as extremist 396 religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.

Advocate Viktor Zhenkov, who represented at the Russian SC the interests of the Jehovah's Witnesses Administrative Centre, treated as bluff the statement of the Russian MoJ that the ban of local religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses would not affect the right of individuals to profess their religious faith. This was told to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent by Viktor Zhenkov himself.

At present, the law enforcement practice in Russia means that the negative consequences of the decision pronounced by the Russian SC will come for all people who profess the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses. This opinion was expressed by advocate Anna Stavitskaya.

"Now it is impossible to express publicly the views of Jehovah's Witnesses, alone or in groups, since their organizations are included in the list of extremist ones," Anna Stavitskaya told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.

According to the organization "Legal Initiative", Jehovah's Witnesses will file a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) about limits of their freedom in Russia, and the ECtHR will take seriously their complaints, since it concerns a large number of believers.

"It is difficult to predict the result of consideration of the complaint by the ECtHR. However, since it is actually about the ban on the organization's activities within the territory of the whole country, I believe that the ECtHR will take the case very seriously," the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent was told by Grigor Avetisyan, the director of the organization "Legal Initiative".

Full text of the article is available on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’.

Source: CK correspondents

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