Russia has banned Jehovah's Witnesses as an extremist organisation
Russia’s Justice Ministry applied for an order to shut down the group’s St Petersburg headquarters.
Today, the state’s Supreme Court granted the order, branding Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organisation.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are expected to appeal the decision in the European Court of Human Rights, according to Russian news agencies.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are expected to appeal the decision in the European Court of Human Rights
Sergei Cherepanov, a Jehovah's Witnesses representative, told Interfax news agency: “We will do everything possible.”
Russian authorities have put several of the group's publications on a list of banned extremist literature.
Prosecutors have long cast the Christian group as an organisation that destroys families, fosters hatred and threatens lives.
The group, a United States-based Christian denomination known for its door-to-door preaching and rejection of military service and blood transfusions, says this description is false.
Worldwide the religious organisation has around eight million active followers.
It has faced court proceedings in several countries, mostly over its pacifism and rejection of blood transfusions, but Russia has been most outspoken in portraying it as an extremist cult.
Russia's Surpreme Court ruled the group is an extremist organisation
THE WASHINGTON POST
It is thought there are around 175,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia
Jehovah’s Witnesses Russian branch, based near St Petersburg, has regularly rejected this allegation.
It has said a ban would directly affect around 400 of its groups and have an impact on all of its 2,277 religious groups in Russia, where it says it has 175,000 followers.
The ruling comes after a Moscow court warned Jehovah’s Witnesses over its “extremist activities” in October 2016.