Russia: Jehovah's Witnesses Break Law by Refusing Blood Transfusions

To Russia With Love

Russia's Supreme Court began a hearing Wednesday to potentially ban the Jehovah's Witnesses and declare the group an extremist organization in the country.

The treatment of the Jehovah's Witnesses reflects the Russian government's tendency to view all independent religious activity as a threat to its control and the country's political stability.

Russia's Supreme Court won't let the 395 local chapters of Jehovah's Witnesses participate in the hearings.

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in. That law, which requires neither the use nor advocacy of violence for activity to be labeled extremist, was enacted after a sustained Russian campaign against this group began in early 2006.

David Semonian, a spokesman at its world headquarters in NY, said regarding the proposed national ban that the Jehovah's Witnesses hope "Russia's Supreme Court will uphold the rights of our fellow believers in Russian Federation to freely carry out their peaceful worship". Worldwide there are more than 7 million members.

Jehovah's Witnesses' press-service has told TASS the organisation "finds this affair very worrisome, because the decision may affect 175,000 believers".

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The Supreme Court's judgment regarding the Justice Ministry's motion is expected to be announced on April 5.

Russian struggle for Jehovah's Witnesses The group was founded in the United States in the late 19th Century and during Joseph Stalin's reign of terror in the Soviet Union it was outlawed and thousands of members were deported to Siberia.

On June 9, 2015, the Jehovah's Witnesses of Belgorod was banned as extremist organization. Thousands of members were deported to Siberia.

Russian officials raided the group's national headquarters in February and confiscated a reported 70,000 documents.

USCIRF calls on the Russian government and judiciary to respect the freedom of religion or belief and halt their harassment of the Jehovah's Witnesses and other religious groups.

"The constitution guarantees freedom of worship, and that is all we are asking, to have the same rights as other religious groups have so we can go about our ministry in a peaceful way". Since 2004 sever branches and chapters of the organization were banned and shut down in various regions of Russian Federation.

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