APRIL 21, 2017
On April 20, 2017, despite global denunciation, Russia’s Supreme Court ruled to criminalize the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Judge Yuriy Grigoryevich Ivanenko of the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the claim filed by the Ministry of Justice “to liquidate the religious organization ‘Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia’ and the local religious organizations that are part of its structure [and] to turn over to the Russian Federation all property of the liquidated religious organization.”
Judge Ivanenko added that, effective immediately, this decision terminates all activity of the Witnesses’ legal entities throughout Russia. Although Jehovah’s Witnesses are appealing the decision to the Appellate Chamber of the Supreme Court, the ruling effectively bans their worship.
Vasiliy Kalin, who at the age of four was deported to Siberia with his parents because of their faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses, stated: “From the moment today’s judgment was pronounced, the entire way of life of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, as individuals and families, fundamentally changed. They are now under threat of criminal prosecution and imprisonment merely for practicing their faith.”
Philip Brumley, General Counsel for Jehovah’s Witnesses, stated: “Today’s decision is a great disappointment. Any objective review of the written pleadings and of the evidence presented leads to only one legitimate conclusion—the Administrative Center never engaged in any so-called extremist activity. We are appealing this ruling.”