With no public announcement, Russia's Justice Ministry lodged a suit at the Supreme Court today (15 March) to declare the Jehovah's Witness Administrative Centre "extremist", to liquidate it, and to ban its activity. If successful, this would ban all Jehovah's Witness activity across Russia.
Russia's Justice Ministry has submitted a suit to the Supreme Court to declare the Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses an "extremist" organisation, order it liquidated, and ban its activity. If the Justice Ministry wins the administrative suit, Jehovah's Witness activity would be banned across Russia. The suit reached the Supreme Court today (15 March) and was included in the list of forthcoming cases on the Court website late in the afternoon Moscow time.
If successful, this would be the first time a court has ruled a registered centralised religious organisation "extremist".
The Justice Ministry made no public announcement that it had lodged the suit.
The liquidation suit, which reached the Supreme Court on 15 March, was handed the same day to Judge Nikolai Romanenkov. "Once he has examined the case, the Judge will determine when the hearing will begin and whether it will be open or closed," a Court secretary told Forum 18 from Moscow on 15 March. "All the information will be posted on the court website."
Should the suit succeed, the Administrative Centre's property would be forfeit to the state and all its activity would be prohibited. The local religious communities for which it is responsible would also be dissolved, and their members would be liable to criminal prosecution if they continued to meet for worship. This would end Jehovah's Witnesses' open public life in Russia.
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