DECEMBER 19, 2016
The Moscow City Court has scheduled an appeal hearing in which Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia will challenge the legality of the warning issued to their Administrative Center. On January 16, 2017, at 11:10 a.m., Moscow Standard Time, the court will hear the appeal and will likely hand down its ruling that same day.
The Witnesses seek to establish that the accusations of “extremist activity” are based on fabricated evidence and false statements that have been manufactured by local authorities to portray sincere worship as criminal activity. In the October 12, 2016, hearing, Judge M. S. Moskalenko of the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow did not allow testimony or video that exposed the illegal actions of some authorities.
International human rights lawyer James Andrik stated: “Either way, this ruling may prove significant. If the Moscow City Court dismisses the appeal, the Prosecutor General’s Office could act on its threat against the Administrative Center. It could liquidate the Administrative Center and further harass the religious communities of Jehovah’s Witnesses and restrict their worship throughout Russia. If, on the other hand, the court upholds the appeal, it would be a breakthrough for justice.”