Russia Supreme Court bans Jehovah's Witnesses

 20 Apr 2017 - 19:20

Russia Supreme Court bans Jehovah's Witnesses
Participants attend a hearing on the justice ministry request to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses at Russia's Supreme Court in Moscow on April 20, 2017. Russia's Supreme Court on April 20 issued a ruling banning Jehovah's Witnesses after finding the group to be extremist. AFP / Vasily Maximov

Associated Press & Reuters

Russia's Supreme Court has banned the Jehovah's Witnesses from operating in the country, accepting a request from the justice ministry that the religious organization be considered an extremist group.

The court ordered the closure of the group's Russia national headquarters near St Petersburg, and its 395 local chapters, as well as the seizure of its property.

The Interfax news agency on Thursday quoted Justice Ministry attorney Svetlana Borisova in court as saying that the Jehovah's Witnesses "pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security."

The Jehovah's Witnesses claim more than 170,000 adherents in Russia. The group has come under increasing pressure over the past year, including a ban on distributing literature deemed to violate Russia's anti-extremism laws.

Russian authorities have put several of the group's publications on a list of banned extremist literature, and prosecutors have long cast it as an organisation that destroys families, fosters hatred and threatens lives, a description the organisation says is false.