Russia has banned Jehovah’s Witnesses after the Supreme Court ruled the Christian sect to be an “extremist” group.
The Judge Yuri Ivanenko said “The Supreme Court has ruled to sustain the claim of Russia’s ministry of justice and deem the ‘Administrative Centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia’ organisation extremist, eliminate it and ban its activity in Russia.”
“The property of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation is to be confiscated to the state revenue.”
According to reports, a lawyer for the justice ministry, Svetlana Borisova, told the court adherents “pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security”.
Judges ordered the closure of the group’s Russian headquarters and 395 local chapters, as well as the seizure of its property.
Lawyers for the Jehovah’s Witnesses said they would appeal the court’s decision, which has not yet come into effect, and could take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
“We will do everything possible,” Sergei Cherepanov, a Jehovah’s Witnesses representative, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
The group, a United States-based non-trinitarian Christian denomination known for its door-to-door preaching and rejection of military service and blood transfusions, says this description is false.
The religious organisation has expanded around the world and has about eight million active followers. It has faced court proceedings in several countries, mostly over its pacifism and rejection of blood transfusions, but has Russia has been most outspoken in portraying it as an extremist cult.