The Jehovah’s Witness situation in Russia has entered its fifth day of hearings.The fifth session of hearings on Jehovah’s Witnesses took place this morning after a week of recess. The court reviewed case materials pertaining to the actions against the Witnesses and identified no legal basis for liquidating the Witnesses’ Administrative Center.
The following is a statement released today by the Office of Public Information of the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses:
On Wednesday, April 19, 2017, some 300 people gathered (some as early as 2:00 a.m.) for the fifth day of hearings by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on a claim from the Ministry of Justice to liquidate the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The aggressive actions by Russian authorities against the Witnesses over the past ten years were summarized as the Court reviewed 43 volumes of documents submitted as case materials.
During the review, the attorneys representing the Ministry of Justice could not specify a legal basis for targeting the Administrative Center for liquidation or any extremist action on the part of either the Administrative Center or any Local Religious Organizations (LROs) used by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Yury Toporov, one of the attorneys for the Administrative Center, noted to the Court that a number of case materials include awards and letters of appreciation received by the Administrative Center from the government, documenting that the Administrative Center was previously recognized by authorities for positive contributions to society for several years. It was also noted that the LROs make similar positive contributions in their communities. Additionally, several volumes of case materials document that the Ministry of Justice has been inspecting LROs used by Witnesses in Russia since 2008 but did not find any extremist activity in the LROs, a point acknowledged by attorneys for the Ministry of Justice.
The Court is expected to resume the hearing on April 20, 2017, at 2:00 p.m.
Meanwhile, Jehovah’s Witnesses in America are gearing up for their annual convention. This year’s theme is “Don’t Give Up!” The convention is free and open to the public.