Berlin troubled over Jehovah’s Witnesses’ ban in Russia

BERLIN, April 21. /TASS/. Germany’s government has voiced concerns over the decision of Russia’s Supreme Court to rule that the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious group is an extremist organization and ban its activities, German Foreign Ministry Spokesman Martin Schaefer said on Friday.

“The federal government is concerned that Russia has banned the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Schaefer said.

On Thursday, Russia’s Supreme Court declared Jehovah’s Witnesses to be an extremist organization and outlawed its activity throughout Russia, thereby upholding the Justice Ministry’s requests. The court declared the immediate shutdown of all 395 local chapters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and transferred the organization’s assets into state custody.

The Supreme Court’s ruling has not taken effect yet. If the organization appeals it, the ruling will come into force as of the moment the appellate court pronounces its opinion or in 30 days’ time.

Earlier in the day, the European External Action Service said in a statement that Jehovah’s Witnesses “must be able to peacefully enjoy freedom of assembly without interference, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Russian Federation as well as by Russia’s international commitments and international human rights standards.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses is an international religious organization that supports offbeat views on the essence of the Christian faith and provides special interpretations of many commonly accepted notions. In Russia, it had 21 local chapters but three of them were shut down for extremism.

Source: TASS
Photo: German Foreign Ministry Spokesman Martin Schaefer