12/05/2014, 00.00
RUSSIA
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New charges of extremism against Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia

The Russian Supreme Court rules against a website and three books used by the community. The latter talk about God and how to lead a happy life. The sect, which is one of the most ill-treated religious minorities in the former Soviet Union, continues to face legal problems.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Russia's Supreme Court has ruled that a website and three books by the Jehovah's Witnesses are extremist, the court's press service told the Russian Legal Information (RAPSI) agency.

Jehovah's Witnesses have faced many legal problems in Russia. In January, a court in Kurgan in the Urals decided to ban the organisation's booklets as extremist. The books talk about how to lead a happy life, what one can hope for, how to develop good relations with God and what one should know about God and its meaning.

In late December 2013, the leader of the sect's group in Tobolsk, Siberia, was charged with extremism and the prevention of a blood transfusion that nearly led to the death of a female member of the group.

In 2004, a court in Moscow dissolved and banned a Jehovah's Witnesses group on charges of recruiting children, encouraging believers to break from their families, inciting suicide and preventing believers from accepting medical assistance.

In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights overturned that court ruling and ruled that Russia should pay 70,000 euros to the defendants.

Jehovah's Witnesses are among the former Soviet Union's most ill-treated religious minorities.

Scattered across the Russian Federation, the 200,000-strong community have been accused of sectarianism, "religious extremism", "incitement to social isolation" and behaviours that undermine societal harmony.

Russian authorities also object to the Witnesses' practice of conscientious objection, opposition to military service, refusal to use weapons, hostility to blood transfusions and the claim made on community members for total devotion. (N/A.)

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