07 February 2019, 18:09
Jehovah's Witnesses' right to practice religion stipulated in Constitution shouldn't be restricted - HRC head
Moscow, February 7, Interfax - The Supreme Court ruling recognizing the Jehovah's Witnesses (banned in Russia) as an extremist organization may be revised, as the rights of adepts of this religion for the freedom of faith should in no way be restricted, head of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council (HRC) Mikhail Fedotov said.
"This question should be divided in two. The first question concerns the organization, as this has been a centralized religious organization Jehovah's Witnesses, a legal entity with all of its attributes, property, entitling documents, and etc. There is a Supreme Court ruling regarding this organization that it is extremist and should be shut down. Can this ruling be revised? Of course, it can be revised," Fedotov told Interfax.
The second question consists in whether a Russian citizen or a foreigner, who is staying in Russia, can practice the faith of Jehovah's Witnesses.
"The answer to this question is that a person can do so. This is his or her right according to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Can a person, who is an adept of the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses, practice relevant religious cults, solely or together with believers of his or her denomination? The Russian Constitution also answers to this question that a person can do so," the HRC head said.
"This should be clear for everybody, both to citizens and law enforcers. If a person practices the faith of Jehovah's Witnesses, he acts in line with his right and does not violates the law," he said.
Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia can create a new organization and can do so that it will comply with the law, according to the HRC chair.
It is necessary to rely on materials and evidence in each concrete case regarding the decisions, which have already been made with respect to members of this organization.
"I have met with representatives of Jehovah's Witnesses many times. They explained that the literature, which was found to be extremist by the court, is not such. So, it is necessary to conduct additional examinations to find out whether it is true or not. Some said that this literature had been planted on them, so, it is necessary to establish whether this has really been done. If this is so, those who have done that should be imprisoned. If this is not so, this means that the decision is right," he said.