MARCH 3, 2014
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia—Jehovah’s Witnesses won a major court victory on January 22, 2014, when an appellate court reversed a lower court’s ruling that banned jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, throughout Russia.
The Tver Regional Court overturned the August 7, 2013, decision of the Tsentralniy District Court. The regional court determined that the district court was unjustified in banning the website because Jehovah’s Witnesses, the owners, had not been given an opportunity to participate in the hearing. The local prosecutor in Tver brought the case to court because jw.org contained publications that Russian courts have ruled to be “extremist.” As soon as Jehovah’s Witnesses learned of the district court’s ruling, they removed these publications from jw.org in Russia. The Tver Regional Court confirmed that the Witnesses were in compliance with Russian laws and rescinded the ban.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are contesting the rulings by the Russian courts that have declared some of their publications to be “extremist” and have submitted several applications to the European Court of Human Rights to reverse these decisions.
Grigory Martynov, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, states: “We are pleased that the judges saw the benefits of our website and the reasonableness of our efforts to comply with Russian court decisions. We will continue to defend the integrity of our publications and the rights of Russian citizens to benefit fully from our Bible education work.”
“Witnesses around the world are rejoicing at this victory,” states J. R. Brown, a spokesman at the Witnesses’ world headquarters. “Thanks to this legal victory, all citizens of Russia will continue to have access to this excellent Bible-education website.”
International: J. R. Brown, Office of Public Information, tel. +1 718 560 5000
Russia: Grigory Martynov, tel. +7 812 702 2691