2017-07-18 10:04:00

Jehovah's Witnesses intent to appeal with ECHR against ruling to abolish organization lawyer

Moscow, July 18, Interfax - The Russian branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses intends to seek the cancellation of the ruling to abolish their organization in Russia and the recognition of the national courts' rulings as violation of the rights of believers, lawyer Viktor Zhenkov representing the Jehovah's Witnesses Administrative Center in Russia told Interfax.

"The final point has not yet been made in this issue, because the Supreme Court violated norms not only of the Russian legislation, but also the international one, therefore, we will appeal with the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) against this ruling," Zhenkov told Interfax on Monday.

"The European Court considers any ruling in terms of compliance with the Convention on Human Rights. The Convention's provisions were certainly breached in this case, that's why I'm sure the European Court will find violations of the rights of believers in this case," he said.

The Jehovah's Witnesses representative Yaroslav Sivulsky, for his part, said he considers the Russian Supreme Court's ruling inexplicable and dangerous for ordinary believers in Russia.

"The newly adopted decision has resulted in very serious consequences for believers, who are Russian citizens, their houses are being set on fire, they're fired from their jobs and there is already one prisoner of conscience, a Danish citizen," Sivulsky said. "Everyone knows Jehovah's Witnesses aren't extremists," he said.

"Then why do law enforcement structures begin to act this way towards them suddenly? We received no answer to this question at the court today. Show us at least one person who was affected or decided to engage in illegal activities. There are none," he said.

"Some experts say that we compete with the Orthodox Church, but we're not competing with anyone. We do what Jesus said, go and spread his word. No civilized country has any complaints against our organization and this ordinary peaceful activity causes such an attitude towards us only in Russia," Sivulsky said.

The past, when the Jehovah's Witnesses suffered repressions, "is returning in some ugly manner" now, he said.

Earlier on Monday, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the Russian Jehovah's Witnesses against the ban on their organization and its abolition following a lawsuit of the Russian Justice Ministry.