06/03/2015, 00.00
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Jehovah's Witnesses allowed to register as a religious organisation in Moscow

After years of problems, the religious group scores a rare legal victory. A Moscow court had banned them in 2004.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – Russia’s Jehovah's Witnesses have scored a rare legal victory. The Russian Justice Ministry had officially registered their Moscow branch as a religious organisation, this according to a statement issued yesterday by the group’s press service.

The press released noted that it had been banned in 2004 by a Moscow court, accused of recruiting children, encouraging the faithful to abandon their families, inciting suicide and preventing their followers from accepting medical treatment.

In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights called the ruling unjustified and ordered it be overturned.

For years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have faced legal problems in Russia (pictured: a meeting in Moscow).

The latest case came in March 2015 when a court in Krasnodar region described the local community as extremist and ordered the confiscation of its properties in the area.

In December 2014, the Supreme Court described the website of the group and three other religious movements as extremist.

Under the former Soviet Union, Jehovah's Witnesses were one of the most oppressed religious minorities.

The group has 200,000 members scattered across the territory of the Russian Federation, which has accused them of sectarianism, "religious extremism," "incitement to social isolation" and behaviour that undermines societal harmony.

Russian authorities have objected to a number of their practices, like conscientious objection to military service, refusal to bear arms, opposition to blood transfusions and the demand on followers to show total devotion to the community. (N.A.)

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