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OCTOBER 14, 2016

Russian Court Dismisses Witnesses’ Appeal Against Warning

On October 12, 2016, the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow dismissed the Witnesses’ appeal that challenged the legality of the Prosecutor General’s warning to the Administrative Center, located near St. Petersburg. The warning, dated March 2, 2016, alleges that, not the Administrative Center itself, but some local religious organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses were involved in “extremist activity.” Because it is the national center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, the Administrative Center must be held responsible. The alleged “extremist activity” was actually the result of fabricated evidence and false statements orchestrated by local authorities. The judge refused to allow the defendants to present witnesses to testify at the hearing or video recordings confirming several incidents of so-called extremist literature being planted in places of worship of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Witnesses will appeal this decision to the Moscow City Court. If this court rules against them, the Prosecutor General’s warning will become enforceable, potentially threatening the religious freedom of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout Russia. As a result of this negative ruling and new fabricated evidence of “extremist activity” by local communities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Prosecutor General may begin court proceedings for the liquidation of the Administrative Center.