The Supreme Court confirms: Jehovah's Witnesses outlawed in Rostov
Moscow (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The community of Jehovah's Witnesses in the city of Taganrog, Neklinov and Matveeva -Kurgan are outlawed, they can not carry out any activities and must be withdrawn. So says a ruling of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation confirming the sentence issued by the Provincial Court of Rostov (see AsiaNews, 17/09/2009, "Court in Rostov bans Jehovah’s Witnesses for being religious extremists ").
In September, the religious organization was accused of spreading "extremist material" promoting a lifestyle that is sectarian and hostile to the peaceful coexistence in the Federation. The Public Ministry of the Federal Court confirmed the indictment by banning 34 of the 68 publications distributed by the Jehovah's Witnesses in the region. According to the charges they "contain outrageous expressions" and "virtually all the literature [distributed by the organisation] is crossed by a common thread that says that traditional Christianity is a false religion."
The organization is also accused of the "violation of the rights of non-believers" through "attempts to enter their homes to pray and perform intrusive activities of evangelization." They have also been banned from distributing magazines and pamphlets and have had property confiscated, such as offices and facilities of the organization, which will pass under the ownership of the Federation.
Vasily Kalin, director of the Audit Committee of the organization’s administrative Centre in Russia, fears now that "the decision will open a new era of persecution for the Jehovah's Witnesses" and that trials similar to those of Rostov will take place in other county courts ( See AsiaNews, 5/10/2009, "Altai court also condemns Jehovah’s Witnesses for “extremism” "). The representative of Organisation in the Federation said: "The right to peaceful assembly, to possession of Christian literature and sharing the hope of the Gospel with others, has suffered a severe restriction.”
For Arly Chimirov, one of the lawyers who followed the Jehovah's Witnesses case, "the Supreme Court's decision confirms the illegal application of the legislation on extremism”. The lawyer has announced an "appeal to the European Court" according to defensive lines followed since the beginning in the court in Rostov. The organization says it argued that the publications are the same distributed in hundreds of countries around the world, including European Union countries, where there are communities of Jehovah's Witnesses.