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21 March 2017

RUSSIA: Jehovah's Witness activity largely halted

Russia has summarily suspended most Jehovah's Witness activities. UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai told Forum 18: "The Russian government is claiming that the Jehovah's Witnesses are an extremist group, but in fact it's their move to ban them outright that appears to be extreme."

15 March 2017

RUSSIA: Justice Ministry seeks complete Jehovah's Witness ban

With no public announcement, Russia's Justice Ministry lodged a suit at the Supreme Court today (15 March) to declare the Jehovah's Witness Administrative Centre "extremist", to liquidate it, and to ban its activity. If successful, this would ban all Jehovah's Witness activity across Russia.

1 March 2017

RUSSIA: Alleged "missionary activity" prosecutions continue

Prosecutions continue under "missionary activity" restrictions, and have led to the first known deportation of a foreigner, Indian Victor-Immanuel Mani. This separates him from his Russian wife and young child. Separately, appeals have been made against two court orders to destroy Bibles, the Bhagavad Gita, and other texts.

16 February 2017

RUSSIA: Jehovah's Witnesses to be liquidated?

Russia appears to be moving to close the Jehovah's Witnesses' headquarters as "extremist". If this happens, all 406 registered local organisations and over 2,500 religious groups would be highly likely also to be liquidated, ending Jehovah's Witness open public communal life in Russia.

15 February 2017

RUSSIA: Warnings and forced community liquidations increase

Russia's forced dissolution of local communities, literature bans, and "extremism" prosecutions increasingly restrict Jehovah's Witnesses' freedom of religion and belief. On 16 January, their national Administrative Centre in St Petersburg lost its latest legal challenge of a prosecutors' warning threatening it with liquidation.

1 February 2017

RUSSIA: Long-running cases against Muslims for meetings

Eleven Russian Muslims currently face "extremism" criminal charges for meeting together and reading the works of theologian Said Nursi. Two have been detained before trial since March 2016, and one has not been allowed to pray. An atheist blogger's next hearing is on 2 February.

26 January 2017

RUSSIA: Ten years' imprisonment for religious meetings?

Prosecutors state Yevgeny Kim faces up to 10 years' imprisonment for studying a Muslim theologian's works with friends. His criminal trial began in Blagoveshchensk on 25 January after a year in prison. Two Jehovah's Witness elders face "inciting religious hatred" criminal charges in Moscow Region.

13 January 2017

RUSSIA: Religious freedom survey, January 2017

Russian laws restricting freedom of religion and belief have increased, as have prosecutions of people exercising this freedom. Given intensifying official hostility to independent public activities without state permission, freedom of religion and belief and interlinked human rights may in future be increasingly restricted.

20 December 2016

RUSSIA: Inconsistency of "anti-missionary" punishments

Confusion and inconsistency mark decisions whether to prosecute individuals and religious organisations for sharing beliefs under so-called "anti-missionary" punishments, which came into force in July, and what the outcome of court hearings is. Of 33 known prosecutions, 17 ended with convictions and fines so far.

24 October 2016

RUSSIA: Many meetings raided and evidence planted

Raids on Jehovah's Witness premises now take place more than three times per month. These raids on doctrinally pacifist religious communities often involve many heavily armed and camouflaged officials, with the "discovery" of apparently planted banned "extremist" literature. Legal dissolution of communities can follow.

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