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Jehovah's Witnesses face ban in Russia
07 April 2017, 02:29 | Clarence Schmidt
Russia moves to ban Jehovah's Witnesses as 'extremist'
The Russian Supreme Court is considering a government request to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the nation's justice ministry has suspended the group's activities. They are asking the court to declare members of the Jehovah's Witnesses as victims of political repression and to deem the ban unlawful.
"USCIRF calls on the Russian government to stop its harassment of this peaceful religious group".
A representative for the ministry asserted that the Jehovah's Witnesses promoted the idea of their exceptionalism and supremacy over other religions, which similarly violated anti-extremism legislation.
The case was eventually adjourned until Thursday.
One pamphlet the ministry reportedly took issue with quoted the novelist Leo Tolstoy and described the beliefs of the Russian Orthodox Church as superstition and sorcery, according to the BBC.
The condemnation of the Russian action follows a lawsuit lodged at the country's Supreme Court on 15 March to declare the Jehovah's Witnesses Administrative Center "extremist", to liquidate it, and to ban its activity. "Such prosecution is based on completely false grounds".
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The Justice Ministry alleges that their religious activities are in violation of Russian law and fighting extremism.
"The Russian government's latest actions appear created to eliminate the legal existence of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia", he said in a statement.
In 2009, prosecutors in southern Russian Federation wrote a report that found that Jehovah's Witnesses "undermined respect" in other religions.
According to a New York Times report, the religious group is viewed by the Russian government as deviating too far from traditional norms that President Vladimir Putin has promoted.
"We object to letting local religious chapters participate in the hearings, because they are structural units of Jehovah's Witnesses", the spokeswoman said. During Soviet rule, Jehovah's Witnesses were targeted as spies by the KGB. Since 2004 sever branches and chapters of the organization were banned and shut down in various regions of Russian Federation.
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However, the market breadth remained positive as 1,469 stocks ended higher, 1,413 declined, while 137 ruled unchanged. Hawkish Fed minutes and anxiety ahead of a two-day meeting between USA and Chinese leaders also weighed on markets.