Since April 20, 2017, when the Russian Supreme Court effectively banned the worship of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country, our brothers and sisters have faced relentless persecution and imprisonment. Authorities have also progressively seized 131 of the properties owned by Jehovah’s Witnesses, with an additional 60 properties subject to confiscation. The total value of the properties is estimated to be over $57 million.
One of the seized properties was the former Russia branch complex in Solnechnoye—a property that was owned by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. (See picture above on left.) This property alone is valued at about $30 million. An additional 43 of the properties that were seized belong to foreign legal entities existing in Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. The seizures are illegal, since the Supreme Court decision banning Jehovah’s Witnesses did not give the government a legal basis for taking foreign-owned properties.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have filed a claim with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) concerning the illegal seizure of the former Russia branch property. Regardless of how the ECHR rules, our trust and confidence are in Jehovah. We pray that our brothers and sisters in Russia continue to be courageous as they refuse to let raids, arrests, or confiscation of meeting places stop them from worshipping Jehovah “with spirit and truth.”—John 4:23.