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APRIL 13, 2016

Recent Court Hearings Targeting Witnesses in Russia

  • Taganrog, Rostov Region. On March 17, 2016, the Rostov Regional Court upheld the trial court decision convicting 16 Witnesses for their worship but lowered the fines of 12 of the defendants to 10,000 rubles ($147 U.S.). The exact effect of the suspended jail sentences and fines is yet unknown.

  • Prosecutor seeks to declare the Bible “extremist.” The Leningrad-Finlyandskiy Transport Prosecutor filed a claim to declare the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses, to be “extremist” material. This is a direct violation of Article 3-1 of the Federal Law on Counteracting Extremist Activity, which forbids the application of the legislation to the Bible. Although the New World Translation is without question a Bible, the prosecutor justifies his action by claiming that only translations produced according to the “sacred traditions” of the Russian Orthodox Church qualify as Bibles. The Vyborg City Court has scheduled the next hearing for April 26, 2016.