Over 175,000 Russian Jehovah's Witnesses in danger after unrepresented Russian Supreme Court Rul
By: Joseph Bonner
On July 17, 2017, the Russian Supreme Court upheld their decision to label Jehovah's Witnesses as extremist.
In a move instigated by the Russian Orthodox Church, the Ministry of Justice filed a complaint against the non-violent Christan organization of Jehovah's Witnesses, labeling their disciple making work, literature and peaceful assembly as extremist. Under this ruling, Jehovah's Witness's children as young seven would be regarded terrorist for sharing their bible based beliefs at school.
The decision puts the safety and welfare of over 175,000 of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia at great risk. Philip Brumley, General Counsel for Jehovah’s Witnesses, stated: “The worldwide community of Jehovah’s Witnesses are deeply concerned for the welfare of their spiritual brothers and sisters in Russia. The appellate chamber’s decision provides a legal veneer of legitimacy for the abuses already inflicted on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and exposes them to criminal prosecution and further abuse. They have become outcasts in their own country.”
This foolish ruling set's Russia back some 25 years when persecution against religious minorities thrived without reprisal under the former Soviet Union.
This comes only about a month after Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded the Order of “Parental Glory” to Valeriy and Tatiana Novik, Jehovah’s Witnesses from Karelia, who have eight children, during a ceremony in Moscow at the Kremlin.
The Order of “Parental Glory” was founded by presidential decree in May 2008. Russia bestows this honor to parents who have raised at least seven children and have shown exceptional care for their family’s wellness and training, including their physical, mental, and moral growth. Parents granted the Order are held as models that strengthen the family establishment.
In a clear misapplication of the law, judge Yuriy Ivanenko and the three-judge panel of the Appellate Chamber of the Supreme Court who rejected the Witnesses’ appeal have set Russia back some 25 years due to the instigation of the Russian Orthodox Church. President Putin has remained seemingly silent through this entire process leading many of Russias citizens and world leaders to seriously question his leadership capabilities.
Jehovah's Witnesses are determined to remain peaceable with all and are hopeful that the Russian government will change their stance.
In the meantime, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee in hopes that justice will prevail.