Russia has banned the religious sect The Jehovah’s Witnesses, after the country’s Supreme Court upheld the state’s contention that the group was an ‘extremist’ organisation.
The nation’s highest court ruled in favour of the country’s Ministry of Justice, which made the initial determination which was challenged all the way up to the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court has ruled to sustain the claim of Russia’s ministry of justice and deem the ‘Administrative Centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia’ organisation extremist, eliminate it and ban its activity in Russia,” judge Yuri Ivanenko said in the controversial ruling.
“The property of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation is to be confiscated to the state revenue.”
The state had argued that the group poses “a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security”.
The Russian branch of the Witnesses boasts of over 395 chapters, with its headquarters in St Petersburg boasting of over 175,000 members.
The ruling has been roundly condemned outside Russia, as a clear infringement on the concept of freedom of religion.
“We will do everything possible [to fight this]” Sergei Cherepanov, a rep for the organisation, said.
That would likely involve appealing the decision at the European Court of Human Rights.