Russian Court Declares Jehovah's Witness Brochures Extremist

Moscow – A Russian court has declared brochures produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to be extremist, the Prosecutor General’s Office said Monday.

The court in the southern city of Kurgan ruled that four pamphlets published by the Christian evangelical sect were discriminatory against people who did not belong to the organization.

The booklets were titled “How to Achieve Happiness in Life,” “What Can People Hope For?” “How to Develop a Close Relationship With God,” and “What You Need to Know About God and His Meaning.”

The prosecutor’s office said that analyses by linguistic experts had concluded that the brochures contained propaganda that promoted the superiority of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and denigrated other faiths as false.

Jehovah’s Witnesses claims more than 7 million followers worldwide, including more than 130,000 in Russia. The religious group frequently faces pressure from Russian authorities for its beliefs and has been banned in a number of regions, as well as in some former Soviet republics.

A Moscow court ordered the dissolution of the local branch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2004 and banned its activities amid allegations that the community was brainwashing children and breaking up families through its teachings.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the decision was unlawful in 2010 and ordered Russia to pay 70,000 euro ($95,000) in damages.

Russian courts declared numerous publications by Jehovah’s Witnesses to be extremist in 2009.