Jehovah’s Witnesses Ban in Moscow / Zeugen Jehovas in Moskau verboten

DEUTSCH / German text

Effects of Moscow Ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia

Documentary (PDF), May 2005: One Year Later: Effects of Moscow Ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Office of Public Information for Jehovah's Witnesses. Watch Tower House, The Ridgeway, London, NW7 1RN.
In June 2004 the Moscow City Court ruled to uphold a lower court decision to ban the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Moscow and to liquidate their legal entity. This is in stark contrast to the legal status of the Witnesses in the rest of Russia, where they are registered in 398 communities in 72 regions. Even before this ruling entered into legal force, Jehovah’s Witnesses experienced adverse consequences both in Moscow and in other parts of Russia.

Court Upholds, Enacts Jehovah’s Witnesses Ban

Created: 16.06.2004 16:14 MSK (GMT +3)


The Moscow City Appeal Court has upheld a lower court’s decision to ban the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Russian capital, stripping the religious organization of its status as a legal entity, in a six-year case seen by many as a reflection of religious freedom in Russia. The ruling, in effect, "outlaws 11,000 citizens with one swoop," Christian Presber, Russia’s representative for Jehovah’s Witnesses, told MosNews.

The religious group had appealed a March 26 ruling by the Golovinsky Intermunicipal District Court that the organization be banned in Moscow. The current ruling upholds that decision, allowing it to come into force.

The decision to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses was immediately seen as an attack on religious freedoms instead of a reaction to any wrongdoings on the part of the group. "[Judge Vera] Dubinskaya said Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate national holidays and don’t serve in the military," Presber said, quoting how the judge had explained her ruling.

"Does this mean authorities are going to go house to house to see what parents are teaching their children?" Presber told MosNews, "does it mean they’re going to force them to take up arms?"

Jehovah’s Witnesses, registered on a federal level in Russia, have already appealed to the European Court on the issue. The court inquired with the Russian government, and was given the answer that the religious organization had the status of a legal entity in the country, Presber said. But now that they no longer have this status in Moscow, the case will be updated both on a federal level, where Presber hopes for a positive response, and in the European Court.

In the meantime, Presber said, the ruling will mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses will be barred from renting spaces for meetings and from owning buildings. "People will now have to gather in their own apartments," he said.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses community was founded in Russia by Charles Russell in 1891, and currently has 11,000 adherents in Moscow and 133,000 throughout Russia.

The first lawsuit against the community was filed in 1998 by a regional prosecutor, accusing Jehovah’s Witnesses of inciting religious discord, breaking up families, violating individual Russian citizens’ rights, inclining people to commit suicide and luring teenagers and minors. In 2001, prosecutors of the capital’s northern district dismissed the complaints. Although the community is registered on the federal level, the City of Moscow Department of Justice has refused to register or re-register any community of Jehovah’s Witnesses under a 1997 law allowing a religion to be deemed "anti-state".


Moscow Court Bans Jehovah’s Witnesses
Created: 26.03.2004 18:19 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 18:42 MSK


A Moscow court has issued an order that the local Jehovah’s Witnesses society be closed down, representatives from the religious organization have said. A lawsuit had been filed earlier this year by the prosecutor’s office of Moscow’s northern district, in which the religious organization was accused of extremist activity.

The case against the Jehovah’s Witnesses society began in September 1998, when the Moscow prosecutor’s office decided that society’s activities were harmful: the activities included inciting religious hatred, breaking up families, and encouraging the ill to refuse medicine for religious reasons.

In 2001, however, Golovin District Court ruled in favor of the religious organization. The Moscow City Court stepped in, however, to overrule the district court’s ruling, and the case was reinitiated, Ekho Moskvy radio reported.

In February, after the prosecutor’s office filed a suit asking that the organization be liquidated, a representative from the local prosecutor’s office spoke out accusing the religious organization of violating several international treaties, including the Declaration of Human Rights, the radio station reported.

According to information posted on the religious organization’s site, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been preaching in Russia for over a century.


See also ...

U.S. Department of State. Taken Questions, Office of the Spokesman, Washington, DC, March 26, 2004. Russia: Banning Religious Activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Moscow

Jehovah's Witnesses, Office of Public Information. Press Release, June 16, 2004: Moscow Appeal Court outlaws 11,000 Jehovah's Witnesses who brace for return to Soviet era.

Moscow ruling vexes religious minorities

The Christian Science Monitor, USA. Date: 06/22/2004

By Fred Weir, Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

(MOSCOW) A district court decision here to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses, upheld by the city's top appeals court last week, is either an isolated event or a chilling sign of reviving religious intolerance in Russia, depending on whom you ask ...


Moskauer Stadtgericht ändert Entscheidung
über Auflösung der Moskauer Gemeinde der Zeugen Jehovas nicht
16-06-2004 Ticker Verschiedenes

russland.RU - Die Internet-Zeitung

Das Moskauer Stadtgericht bestätigte die Entscheidung über die Auflösung der Moskauer Gemeinde der Zeugen Jehovas. Das wurde RIA Nowosti am Mittwoch im Gericht bekanntgegeben. Damit hat das Gericht die von den Anwälten der Gemeinde vorgebrachte Kassationsbeschwerde abgelehnt.

Am 26. März 2004 hat das Bezirksgericht Golowino auf Anfrage der Staatsanwaltschaft des Stadtbezirks Nord beschlossen, die Gemeinde der Zeugen Jehovas aufzulösen. Die Staatanwaltschaft klagt die Mitglieder der Gemeinde der extremistischen Tätigkeit an.

Der Prozess gegen die Zeugen Jehovas begann im September 1998. Die Staatsanwaltschaft des Stadtbezirks Nord kam nach einer Überprüfung der Gemeindetätigkeit zu dem Schluss, dass diese auf die Entfachung von religiöser Intoleranz und die Zerstörung von Familien abzielte. Unter anderem überredeten die Mitglieder der Gemeinde schwer kranke Menschen, aus religiösen Gründen auf ärztliche Hilfe zu verzichten.

Doch im Jahr 2001 traf das Bezirksgericht Golowino eine Entscheidung zu Gunsten der Zeugen Jehovas, indem es den Antrag der Staatsanwaltschaft zur Auflösung der Gemeinde ablehnte.

Das Moskauer Stadtgericht, an das die Staatsanwaltschaft sich mit einer Kassationsbeschwerde wandte, hob diese Entscheidung auf und ließ den Fall erneut verhandeln. "Wir sind mit dieser Entscheidung zufrieden, weil das Gericht eine Entscheidung zu Gunsten der Staatsanwaltschaft getroffen hat", so Tatjana Kodratjewa, Vertreterin der Staatsanwaltschaft. (RIA)