Russia’s Supreme Court docket has begun listening to a authorities request to outlaw the Jehovah’s Witnesses and declare it an extremist organisation.
The justice ministry has already positioned its headquarters close to St Petersburg on a listing of extremist teams.
Greater than seven million individuals worldwide are a part of the Christian-based motion, greatest identified for going door to door searching for new converts.
It has 175,000 members in Russia and 395 branches throughout the nation.
Because the case started in Moscow on Wednesday, attorneys representing the motion submitted a counter swimsuit, asking the Excessive Court docket to declare its members victims of political repression and the justice ministry’s motion illegal.
The courtroom dominated that this was not a part of its jurisdiction, however didn’t say whose it was, Russia’s legal information agency reported. The case was ultimately adjourned till Thursday.
The ministry argues that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ actions “violate Russia’s legislation on combating extremism” and their pamphlets incited hatred towards different teams.
Jehovah’s Witnesses consultant Yaroslav Sivulsky instructed the BBC that the motion had nothing to do with extremism and he complained that in each case the courts by no means actually listened to their arguments.
One pamphlet quoted the novelist Leo Tolstoy, describing the doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church as superstition and sorcery, based on BBC correspondent Sarah Rainsford.
The group was based within the US within the late 19th Century and through Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror within the Soviet Union it was outlawed and hundreds of members have been deported to Siberia. Different Christian teams have been additionally persecuted.
Learn extra right here: Jehovah’s Witnesses at a glance
Because the Soviet Union collapsed, there was a revival of Christianity in Russia and the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses was lifted in 1991.
Step by step attitudes in direction of the motion hardened and in 2004 a gaggle was banned on prices of recruiting youngsters and stopping believers from accepting medical help.
Witnesses take many of the Bible actually and refuse blood transfusions. They aren’t seen by conventional Christian Church buildings as a mainstream denomination.
In 2009 a report commissioned by prosecutors in southern Russia discovered that they “undermined respect” in different religions.
Human rights group Sova has mentioned that an “official repressive marketing campaign” has been performed towards the motion for years and plenty of of their members have been bodily attacked.