Russian Federation Claims Jehovah’s Witnesses Seek to Divide Families
The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation started a case against the group in Russia known as “The Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia”. In United States, the religion is known under many entities (per Congregation or branch); the head of all being the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, who operates the website: JW.org.
Who Is Involved in the JW Russian Ban?
As stated on the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation website, the criminal investigation case involved 4 major authoritative agencies:
- The Regional Investigation Department of the Russian IC;
- The Prosecutor’s Office of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra;
- The Russian Federal Security Service in the Tyumen region;
- The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia.
The Investigative Department states that Jehovah’s Witnesses were in violation of the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of April 20, 2017, banning all activities of the religious organization known as “The Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia” in the territory of the Russian Federation.
The activities of the local religious organization were controlled by The Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, and were organized in the territory of the Russian Federation, where they had been banned. Among one recognized entity was “Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Surgut.” It had a clear hierarchy with duties and tasks for each rank, by importance, from smaller to larger. There was a coordination of activities into several “Assemblies” and smaller groups. This organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses was a separate entity than the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia , much like “Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses” in USA is a separate legal entity of “Watchtower Bible and Tract Society”, or a Kingdom Hall’s “Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
Says the Russian Federation:
“This organization promoted the advantage of followers of the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses to other persons, including those professing another religion, the negative assessment of persons who are not followers of this religious doctrine, and encouraging them to break kinship and family relations, and not to recognize government bodies.”
In light of what is known as shunning and ostracizing of former members, the Investigators apparently saw the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses as similar to that of other extremist religions.
Jehovah’s Witnesses Raids and Arrests
Investigators raided homes and places of employment and found “extremist literature”. Computers and mobile phones were seized, as well as other items “relevant to the investigation”. As a result, Jehovah’s Witnesses were brought in by bus, and detained.
Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia Targeted; Claimed They Were Not Responsible
In 2017, for the first time, the court ruled a registered national religious organization as “extremist” and banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses. When argued, the JWs defense lawyers argued that there was no evidence of “extremist” activity, and that the main Jehovah’s Witnesses “Administrative Center” could not be held responsible for local organizations. They further argued that the local organizations “should have been made party to the case.” The judges however, ruled that the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses and all registered JWs entities should be dissolved, and assets and property confiscated. Their activities were found to be extremist.
Jehovah’s Witnesses Detainees Tortured
The Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York released a statement January 21, 2019, that 7 detained Jehovah’s Witnesses were tortured after they knowingly refused to give the names of the leaders of the Russian group(s). This came after Jehovah’s Witness Dennis Christensen made headlines, as he laughed in court when convicted of Extremism, with a 6 year prison sentence.