Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Prosecutor’s Office in Kirovo-Chepetsk (northeastern European Russia) is getting ready to ban the activities of the Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs), a religious group with many followers in the world, and about 400 branches in Russia.
“Work that was conducted in the past year jointly with the FSB* and the Prosecutor's Office has permitted us to identify the leaders and active participants of the organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses who engaged in distribution of forbidden extremist literature,” Police chief Oleg Luchinin said.
In August, police raided two branches of Jehovah's Witnesses in Karelia, beating up people found with “extremist” literature.
Russia’s law against religious extremism has created problems and allowed violent crackdowns against people for professing their faith.
In 2009, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation upheld a ruling by a court in Rostov to dissolve and ban the Witnesses in Taganrog, Neklinov and Matveeva Kurgan because of their extremism.
According to police, Pinegin Roman, head of the group’s branch in the city of Kirovo-Chepetsk, posted a link on his Odonklassniki* page to an entity considered extremist between 2013 and 2014. The link remained online between 20 and 30 December 2015.
Police also said that religious literature with negative statements against traditional Christianity was distributed at Witnesses’ religious gatherings.
According to some witnesses, Roman Pinegin was responsible for the distribution of destructive religious propaganda fuelling hostility towards traditional religions and representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church.
On 16 February 2016, the Kirovo-Chepetsk District Court found Roman Pinegin guilty of "production and distribution of extremist material" and was fined 2,000 rubles (US$ 33.5).
In some regions of Russia, Jehovah’s Witnesses have faced brutal repression from the federal government for years.
The reason for this lies with their objection to military service on religious ground and their refusal to accept blood donations.
For Russian authorities, this is dangerous and the reason for its harsh reactions.
* FSB, Russia’s Federal Security Service
** A social network service.