Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday declared Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination that rejects violence, an extremist organization, banning the group from operating on Russian territory. This seems that the 170,000 Russian worshipers are considered in the same category as Islamic State militants.
The ministry’s representative, Svetlana Borisova, told the Supreme Court on Thursday that Jehovah’s Witnesses had shown “signs of extremist activity that represent a threat to the rights of citizens, social order and the security of society.” The religious group repeatedly dismissed the extremist allegation arguing that reading the Bible and promoting its nonviolent message could in no way be construed as extremist. Jehovah’s Witnesses would appeal the ruling, one of their lawyers said. “We consider this decision an act of political repression that is impermissible in contemporary Russia,” he declared. Possibly the Jehovah’s Witnesses will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, France. Founded in the United States in the 19th century, Jehovah’s Witnesses has its worldwide headquarters in the United States and, along with all foreign-led groups outside the control of the state, is viewed with deep suspicion by Russia’s post-Soviet version of the KGB.