It was announced on Thursday, April 20, 2017, that Russia has banned Jehovah's Witnesses from its country, claiming it to be an extremist group. The Supreme Court has ordered the religious group not to operate any longer in Russia. Judge Yuri Ivanenko ordered the Administrative Centre of Jehovah's Witnesses Russia to be eliminated and all activity ceased. Additionally, the court ordered the religion's headquarters and all 395 Russian's chapters to be closed and all of their property seized to be sold for state revenue.

Posing a threat

Justice Ministry attorney Svetlana Borisova said in court that the religious organization posed a threat to the rights of Russia's citizens as well as their security.

Over the last year, Jehovah's Witnesses were said to violate Russia's anti-extremism laws. One of those violations has been distributing their literature. The group has been suspended since March over extremist activities.

Jehovah's Witnesses react

Before the judge made his decision, hundreds of followers had been to court to hear the six-day case. They were not pleased with the Supreme Court's decision. The religious group is not accepting the ban which has not gone into effect yet.

Lawyers for the group stated that they will appeal the court's decision. If necessary, the case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights. Sergei Cherepanov, who represents the group, says they will do everything possible to get the ban revoked because it is against the law.

It happened before in 2010 when judges in Strasbourg found an order to ban Jehovah's Witnesses to be unlawful. Therefore, it could happen again.

About the group

There are more than 8.3 million Jehovah's Witnesses around the world and about 175,000 in Russia. The religious group registered as a religious group in Russia in 1991 and again in 1999.

The organization has been targeted over and over by authorities. Most people know that the activities of the organization include the distribution of literature and going from door-to-door preaching to those who are willing to let them into their homes.

There have been some serious consequences for Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.

For example, their website was blocked two years ago allegedly because of extremism. The group uses its own Bible, "The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures," and it was banned the next year. In 2010, a local chairman spent two years in jail on charges of possessing extremist literature.