Saturday, May 18, 2024
 
 

Russia officially blacklists over 200 Jehovah’s Witnesses

EPA-EFE//SERGEY DOLZHENKO

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Three years after Russia officially banned Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2017 and declared the group an extremist organisation, the Kremlin has added more than 200 members of the church to its register of extremists and terrorists.
The crackdown on the religious group cuts the believers off from the country’s financial system as their placement on the extremist list will lead to their bank accounts being frozen and to severe restrictions on any financial transactions.
Jarrod Lopes, a spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses world headquarters in the United States, said the Russian authorities are “vilifying Jehovah’s Witnesses and crippling them from caring for their basic needs. Clearly, Russia has effectively reinstated its darkest period of history by relentlessly persecuting Jehovah’s Witnesses, as did its intolerant Soviet predecessors.”
Russia’s security service, the FSB, has actively used vaguely worded extremism laws to crack down on opposition activists and religious minorities. As a result, hundreds of members have been subjected to raids, arrests and prosecution.
Twenty-four members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been convicted, nine of whom have been sentenced to prison, and more than 300 people are currently under criminal investigation.
At the time that the organisation was banned, the Russian government maintained that the religious group was distributing inflammatory pamphlets designed to incite hatred, including one that printed criticism of the powerful Russian Orthodox Church by the famed 19th-century novelist Leo Tolstoy.
According to the group, which is best known for door-to-door evangelising, there were 175,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses members in Russia in 2017.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the destruction of the present world system at Armageddon is imminent and that the establishment of God’s kingdom over the earth is the only solution for all problems faced by humanity. Witnesses are also non-Trinitarians, a form of Christianity that rejects the mainstream Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

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