Court Hears Jehovah's Witnesses

Kommersant-Daily/October 31, 2001
By Elena Vansovich

Yesterday the Golovin intermunicipal court took up a renewed consideration of the civil case on the liquidation and prohibition of the activity of the Moscow society of the "Jehovah's Witnesses" religious organization. The civil case for the liquidation and prohibition of the activity of the Moscow society of "Jehovah's Witnesses" was initiated in 1998 by the prosecutor of the Northern Administrative District of the capital on the basis of an appeal from the public organization "Committee for the protection of youth from totalitarian sects." At hearings in February of this year the Golovin court of Moscow permitted the activity of the Moscow society of Jehovists.

However on 30 May 2001 the Moscow city court granted the appeal of the prosecutor's office of the Northern Administrative District of the capital and, noting the prior decision of the district court, sent the case to the Golovin court for a new review by a different judge.

In the opinion of a representative of the administrative center of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious organization, Yaroslav Sivulsky, the new review of the case on prohibition of the Moscow "Jehovah's Witnesses" society is nothing other than "a continuation of a soap opera. The assistant prosecutor, Mrs. Kondratieva, declared in the session that a representative of the Orthodox church would be summoned the next time for giving testimony. This means that the judicial investigation will move over into a doctrinal dispute about how we do not recognize the Holy Trinity, do not reverence the cross, and do not believe in immortal souls." According to Yaroslav Sivulsky, the session was drawn out nearly five hours in the course of which "the judge and two elderly persons, whispering to each other, leafed through the Bible and tried to exegete sacred scripture."

All petitions by the defendants, the Jehovah's Witnesses, were denied, including a petition to terminate the judicial process until a response by the Supreme Court on an appeal submitted by the Jehovists a month ago. In the opinion of Mr. Sivulsky, Judge Dubinskaia is sure that if she manages to prohibit the Moscow congregation of "Jehovah's Witnesses," judicial investigations for the liquidation of the "Jehovah's Witnesses" religious organizations will begin throughout the country.

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