BREAKING NEWS: Russia lifts ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses


MOSCOW, March 17. Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky court has on today lifted a year-long ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, Moscow Herald reports.

The ban was lifted by the same court that rejected a lawsuit filed by the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious group against the Justice Ministry’s ruling on banning its activity in Russia.

The organization has earlier on last year asked the court to recognize the Justice Ministry’s ruling as illegal and order its cancellation. “The court decided to reject the lawsuit of the religious organization “Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center in Russia,” Judge Nelli Rubtsova said.

In a latest ruling after a Russian couple filed a fresh application to lift the ban on the religious group, a six-member jury led by Judge Ekaterina unanimously lifted the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses with immediate effect. The ruling added that, all assets of the organization in state custody should be handed over to the its Watchtower branch office in Russia.

On April 20, Russia’s Supreme Court declared Jehovah’s Witnesses to be an extremist organization and outlawed its activity throughout Russia, thereby upholding the Justice Ministry’s requests. The court declared the immediate shutdown of all 395 local chapters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and transferred the organization’s assets into state custody. Jehovah’s Witnesses said it would appeal the decision.

In its lawsuit, the Justice Ministry pointed to various violations by the organization’s activities revealed during a surprise inspection, including of the Law on Counteracting Extremist Activities.

On October 12, 2016, Moscow’s Tverskoy district court issued a warning to the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center based on revelations of extremism there. Under Russian law, a religious association or organization is subject to termination if it does not remedy the specified manifestations of extremism before the required deadline or displays any new ones.

Jehovah’s Witnesses is an international religious organization that supports offbeat views on the essence of the Christian faith and provides special interpretations of many commonly accepted notions.