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Delegates pictured from left to right: Alberto Rovira (Spain), Peter Hamadej (Slovakia), Andrejs Gevla (Latvia), Chong Ho (Korea), Yaroslav Sivulskiy (Russia), Johann Zimmermann (Austria), Stefan Steiner (Switzerland), Vasiliy Kalin (Russia), Tommi Kauko (Finland), Mark Sanderson (United States), Robert Delahaije (Netherlands), Marc Hansen (Belgium), Paul Gillies (United Kingdom), Lars-Erik Eriksson (Sweden), Tommy Jensen (Denmark), Jørgen Pedersen (Norway), Manfred Steffensdorfer (Germany), Teemu Konsti (Lithuania), Babis Andreopoulos (Greece), Tambet Ernits (Estonia), Jean-Claude Pons (France)

JULY 21, 2017

International Delegation of Brothers Shows Support for Russian Fellow Worshippers at Supreme Court Appeal Hearing

NEW YORK—The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses arranged for a delegation of brothers from three continents to travel to Moscow to demonstrate the global support for the brothers and sisters in Russia.

When the delegation arrived, they were met by the happy faces of their Russian brothers and sisters, some of whom traveled to Moscow from as far away as Siberia. The delegates assured the Russian brothers and sisters of their intense concern for them and the heartfelt prayers of the worldwide brotherhood. One member of the delegation stated: “I was truly moved by the courageous attitude of my Russian brothers, especially as there was very little expectation of a reversal of the unjust decision to ban their activity.”

Despite the negative decision by the three-judge panel, an atmosphere of genuine love and unity pervaded the courtroom. There was deep sadness at hearing Jehovah’s name reproached in such a public setting and a sober awareness that a time of testing lies ahead for the Witnesses in Russia. Yet, the dignity and affection displayed by the brothers and sisters in the courtroom was sufficient evidence to refute the erroneous charge of “extremism” upheld by the appeal judges.

Mark Sanderson, a member of the Governing Body, led the delegation. He warmly encouraged the brothers to “be strong and courageous” in the days ahead. As the visiting brothers left the courtroom, the local Witnesses embraced them and expressed appreciation for their support on this historic occasion.

The delegation also visited 21 embassies in Moscow to provide accurate information about the negative effects of Russia’s attack on Jehovah’s Witnesses. These include cases of arson on homes of Witnesses, jobs lost, harassment of children at schools, and criminal charges for organizing Christian meetings against several elders, including Brother Dennis Christensen, who remains in pre-trial detention. A number of ambassadors were visibly moved by a two-minute video that summarized these events. The most common question asked by officials was, ‘Why Jehovah’s Witnesses?’ In answer, our brothers gave a powerful witness by explaining that individuals of our organization are politically neutral and our preaching activity has positively changed the lives of many Russians. One ambassador responded: “The Orthodox Church does not like you fishing in their waters.” More than ten embassies sent representatives to the court hearing and stayed for the entire 8-hour duration.

The international delegation of brothers left Russia with their faith strengthened, heartened by their Russian brothers’ determination to remain loyal and the opportunity to give an effective witness to officials.

Media Contact:

David A. Semonian, Office of Public Information, +1-845-524-3000