Russia’s supreme court has banned Jehovah’s Witnesses from operating in the country.But,
Sergei Cherepanov, a Jehovah’s Witnesses representative, was quoted as saying that the group will appeal the decision in the European court of human rights.
“We will do everything possible,” he said.
Jehovah’s Witnesses first registered as a religious group in Russia in 1991 and registered again in 1999.
The group, which was founded in the US in the late 19th century, was banned during Joseph Stalin’s reign in the Soviet Union.
The religious organisation has over 175,000 members in Russia.
The court declared the religious organisation an extremist group.
The Russian government had on March 16 filed a suit to outlaw the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“The Supreme Court has ruled to sustain the claim of Russia’s ministry of justice and deem the ‘Administrative Centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia’ organisation extremist, eliminate it and ban its activity in Russia,” said Yuri Ivanenko, a judge, in his ruling.
The court also ordered the closure of the group’s headquarters in Russia and its 395 local chapters.
“The property of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation is to be confiscated to the state revenue.”
Russia’s justice ministry attorney Svetlana Borisova was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the Jehovah’s Witnesses “pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security
The ruling, which affects more than 100,000 Jehovah’s Witness worshippers across Russia, is a serious breach of Russia’s obligations to respect and protect religious freedom.
The Justice Ministry, which had petitioned the Supreme Court to close the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, should withdraw the case and refrain from taking further measures that violate its obligations to respect the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization’s right to freedom of religion and to association. The Jehovah’s Witnesses organization said it will appeal the ruling to the European Court of Human Rights.