On Thursday, Russia’s Supreme Court deemed Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist group and ordered the closure of all its chapters. Judge Yuri Ivanenko:
The Supreme Court has ruled to sustain the claim of Russia’s Ministry of Justice and deem the ‘Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia’ organization extremist, eliminate it and ban its activity in Russia.”
The judge also ordered the seizure of all the property of Jehovah’s Witnesses to “the state revenue”.
The Interfax news agency reports that according to the Justice Ministry the suspension came because the group was conducting “extremist activity”.
“They pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security,” Justice Ministry attorney Svetlana Borisova said.
Borisova claimed the religious group had multiple administrative violations including its representatives spreading “extremist literature”. She also said that the group’s opposition to blood transfusions violated Russia’s health law.
Following the ruling, a Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesperson announced that they will appeal the decision taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
The group reportedly has some 175,000 adherents in Russia with 395 local chapters.
The ruling seems to be a continuation of Russia’s crackdown on what they deem to be extremism. In the beginning of April, Russia’s Justice Ministry formally added this “gay image” of Putin to its federal list of banned extremist materials.