Report: On April 5, 2017, the Supreme Court of Russia began hearing a lawsuit on the liquidation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A textual report is being conducted from the courtroom.
5th of April
The large beautiful courtroom is crowded. There are more than 200 people, including numerous journalists, representatives of public organizations, foreign embassies. The hearing began at 10:30.
A little less than 250 people remained on the street to wait for the results of the hearing. Povarskaya Street in Moscow is filled with cars with TV transmitting antennas. Many cameras are taking off. From the police radios, the messages “Everything is calm, without incident” are periodically heard. In the hall, representatives of embassies and foreign organizations in the headphones listen to the translation of the process.
The case is heard by Judge Yu. Ivanenko. The party of the defendant, the “Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia”, represents 6 people, including Vasily Kalina from the steering committee, as well as lawyers. Representative of the Ministry of Justice of Russia – Svetlana Borisova. The defendant’s objections to the case are added together with the annexes in 35 volumes.
The court allowed photography and video recording only when the final act was announced. However, for audio recording there are no obstacles. About 40 media representatives are present in the hall, they occupy the first rows in the hall.
11:00 The court refused to accept a counterclaim on recognizing the actions of the Ministry of Justice as political repressions. The judge considered accepting objections to the claim as a sufficient measure of defense for the defendant.
11:15 Representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses petition for admission to participate in the case representatives of all 395 local religious organizations. Lawyer Zhenkov: “If believers across Russia are deprived of their rights, let them hear it here in court.” Local religious organizations, contrary to the logic of the Ministry of Justice, are not structural units of each other, but independent legal entities.
11:20 Lawyer Omelchenko gives an example: “According to the logic of the Ministry of Justice, it turns out, we must pass a sentence: Shoot the ataman. And his whole platoon. ”
11:25 The court refused to involve 395 local organizations in the case as co-defendants.
11:30 Jehovah’s Witnesses asked the court to authorize the audiotransmission of the court session. The court refused.
11:35 Lawyers for Jehovah’s Witnesses ask the court to postpone the hearing until a decision is made in another case in another court. It is about appealing in court the orders of the Ministry of Justice on the suspension of the activities of organizations .
11:42 The Ministry of Justice objects because it believes that the agency had every right to suspend the activities of the organizations.
11:45 The court refused to adjourn the hearing.
11:50 am Lawyer Omelchenko petitioned to leave the suit of the Ministry of Justice without consideration. The plaintiff did not observe the pre-trial order of settlement of claims to 395 communities of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Before issuing a claim for the liquidation of 395 local religious organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the state authorities, according to the law, were to issue official warnings to each of them and provide time for their correction.
11:55 The second reason for abandonment of this claim is that similar cases of liquidation and recognition of “extremist” 2 of 395 local organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses (in Karachaevo-Cherkessia and the Samara region) are already being considered in Russian courts.
12:05 The court refused to satisfy the petition to leave without consideration.
12:10 Representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses are asked to postpone the hearing for one week due to the fact that the Ministry of Justice filed the claim to the respondent untimely. It was received by mail only on March 28, 2017. In addition, the Ministry of Justice did not provide the defendant with all the documents specified in the appendices to the statement of claim.
12:17 The Ministry of Justice does not object to the adjournment of the case.
12:19 The court refused to adjourn the case.
12:20 Zhenkov’s lawyer solicits the suspension of the case due to the fact that a number of Russian courts have submitted applications to consider the court decisions that came into force on newly discovered circumstances. This is a review of the cases that have entered into force for the liquidation of 8 local religious organizations (MPOs) and the introduction of 88 publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the FEMC. The fact is that all those decisions of the courts were made without involving the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, since the Ministry of Justice insisted that the decisions of the courts against the LROs did not affect the rights of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center in Russia. In this case, the Ministry of Justice changed its position and now all the charges brought against the LRO are made to the Management Center.
12:30 The Justice Ministry objects to the suspension, considering that the same lawyers as those involved in the liquidation of MPOs participated in cases involving the MPO.
12:33 The court retired to the advisory room.
13:50 The court left the meeting room. In the suspension of the case denied.
13:55 Lawyer Zhenkov declares a petition to involve specialists, namely religious scholars and linguists, in the case. Experts can clarify whether the texts that underlie the Ministry of Justice’s demand to ban an entire religion in Russia are really extremist and dangerous.
14:00 Asked by the judge whether the lawyers offer to “audit” the decisions of the courts with which the literature was included in the FEMC, the lawyers explained that this information would be important for ascertaining the proportionality of the requirements of the Ministry of Justice.
14:04 The representative of the Ministry of Justice objects to admission of specialists to the hearing.
14:05 The court refused to involve experts in the hearing of the case.
14:06 Lawyer Zhenkov asks to involve 9 foreign legal entities representing religious associations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Europe and America to participate in the case. The reason is that the Ministry of Justice in its lawsuit asks the court to confiscate real estate objects belonging to these organizations.
14:14 The court refused to invite foreign organizations to participate in the case.
14:15 Lawyer Omelchenko declares a petition to involve eight Russian citizens as interested in participating in the case, who have been rehabilitated as victims of political repression. These people are present in the hall. Lawyers convincingly prove that if the suit is satisfied, these people from rehabilitated will turn into “extremists”.
14:20 The Justice Ministry believes that the court decides on the liquidation of legal entities, this does not apply to individual citizens. In his remarks, lawyer Zhenkov recalled that such considerations were guided by the Soviet authorities, prohibiting the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, repression hurt people, and as a result they were rehabilitated.
14:25 The court refuses to satisfy the petition.
2:30 pm Lawyers apply for interrogation of individual citizens, followers of the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who can testify about the measures taken by Jehovah’s Witnesses to prevent extremist activity.
14:35 The Ministry of Justice does not object. The court satisfied.
14:40 Lawyers apply for interrogation as witnesses of persons recognized as victims of political repression. Ministry of Justice objects. The court refuses.
14:43 A representative of Jehovah’s Witnesses, M. Novakov, makes a petition for interrogation as witnesses of persons who witnessed the falsification of evidence against believers in cases that the Ministry of Justice uses in its lawsuit as “new evidence of an offense”.
14:45 To the judge’s objection that these are decisions that came into force, Novakov explains that in this case a pre-judicial approach can not be used, since we are talking about different subjects of law. The court must directly investigate the evidence. Novakov tells the court about the circumstances of the flogging and false testimony in a number of Russian cities.
3pm The Ministry of Justice objects, arguing that this interrogation, in their opinion, is aimed at “reviewing the decisions that came into force”. The court refused to question witnesses of falsification of evidence against local organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
15:05 Lawyer Omelchenko petitioned for the reclamation of publications from the courts, which were considered “extremist” and which formed the basis of this lawsuit to prohibit the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The lawyer stresses that this is necessary to study the question of whether these statements are sufficiently dangerous to essentially limit the right of 300,000 citizens of Russia on this basis. He draws attention to the requirement of legislation that restrictions should be justified and proportionate to the constitutionally significant goals.
15:15 Omelchenko gives examples of statements in the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses, because of which these publications were recognized as extremist.
15:16 Omelchenko explains that the court must investigate whether statements in the said literature are so dangerous that they would justify limiting the rights of hundreds of thousands of citizens.
15:20 Ministry of Justice objects. The court refuses to demand literature that is recognized as extremist.
15:21 The right to file petitions goes to the administrative plaintiff. The representative of the Ministry of Justice asks to attach to the case several judicial acts that were not attached to the statement of claim. The government, not having them in their hands, hastened to refer to them in their lawsuit. And only now, having received them, asks them to attach them to the case.
15:25 The defendant objects. The court, conferring on the spot, satisfies the petition of the Ministry of Justice.
The court declared a break until April 6, 2017 14:00.
The weather in Moscow is warm and sunny. Near the entrance to the court a large number of people were formed. Television journalists work. Among those present, there is a calm, friendly atmosphere. Noticeable increased security measures. Directly at the entrance there is a bus with police officers. At the entrance is a thorough search. Inside the building, no liquids are allowed to pass through. Employees of the Supreme Court, organizing hearings, carry out their work professionally and in harmony. Despite the large number of listeners, there are no failures.
2:30 pm The hearing began with the defendants’ petition to suspend the hearing due to the fact that private complaints were filed against the court’s yesterday’s refusals to satisfy most of the 17 applications submitted. The hearing must be suspended pending decisions on these complaints.
14:33 The Ministry of Justice objects to the suspension of the hearings. The court is removed to the advisory room.
The court denies the motion to suspend the hearing.
Omelchenko’s lawyer solicits the inclusion of materials that may indicate political motives for the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses. These are the documents of foreign organizations, such as the UN, OSCE, official statements of human rights organizations, as well as archival documents.
The court decided to grant the application for the attachment of these materials.
The court reports the essence of the matter and gives the floor to the Ministry of Justice.
14:45 The representative of the Ministry of Justice Borisov begins to expound the arguments that justify the necessity of banning all organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. She lists the decisions of the courts against the local religious organizations (MPOs) of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Concluding his speech, the representative of the Ministry of Justice asks the court to liquidate all organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, remove them from the register of legal entities and prohibit their activities. Asks to confiscate property and turn the court’s decision to immediate execution (that is, do not wait for the decision to enter into legal force).
The judge asks the representative of the Ministry of Justice a counter question: why does the Ministry of Justice ask both to liquidate the legal entity and to prohibit their activities. The judge is perplexed: how can you ban what does not exist. He clarifies whether the Ministry of Justice also demands that all unregistered groups be banned. The representative of the Ministry of Justice explains that he does not ask them to be banned, because Jehovah’s Witnesses did not provide the department with information about unregistered groups.
15:16 The new clarifying question of the judge: on what grounds does the Ministry of Justice apply a pre-judicial approach to the Management Center, if the center was not involved in participation in cases. Prejudice is applicable in the case of decisions that have already entered into force (that is, the court relies on them as already on the established fact) only with respect to the same subjects of law. Accordingly, the decisions made by the courts in respect of MPOs can not have a prejudicial effect on a centralized organization.
15:17 The representative of the Ministry of Justice argues that the Administrative Center knew about these cases, and the lawyers of the center attended them.
15:20 The Ministry of Justice in its suit confirms the necessity of liquidation of religious organizations due to the fact that organizations, in their opinion, violate the rights of citizens. The court asks the representative of Borisov the next clarifying question: which rights of citizens are violated? Borisova says that this is the right to receive medical treatment. According to their data, organizations prevent citizens from receiving medical treatment. In response to a rumble in the hall, the judge asks those present to restrain emotions.
15:24 The judge asks if the Ministry of Justice has evidence of their allegations about medical treatment. The Ministry of Justice is not ready to provide them. The judge is again puzzled, because the Ministry of Justice most recently conducted a large-scale inspection of Jehovah’s Witnesses and, if such facts were, they should have been identified.
15:25 The judge asks the Justice Ministry to clarify their statement that the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses are a threat to public safety. The Ministry of Justice speaks of a threat to an indefinite circle of persons.
3:30 pm The judge asks the representative of the Ministry of Justice if they ask to prohibit the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, whether the believers who have gathered for prayer will be under threat of criminal prosecution. Ministry of Justice: yes, if the court finds them guilty of violating Art. 282.2 UKRF.
15:34 The judge asks the representative of the Ministry of Justice about the Federal List of Extremist Materials (FEMC) of the Ministry of Justice of Russia. The court is interested in the question: does the Ministry of Justice revise this list? The representative of the Ministry of Justice informs the court in an uncertain voice that sometimes this list can be revised.
15:39 The judge gives the respondents the opportunity to ask questions to the Ministry of Justice.
15:40 Zhenkov’s lawyer first of all asks the court to refuse to accept a copy of the court’s decision, which the Justice Ministry presented to the court a few minutes ago. The court decision describes the case when certain parents brought a sick child to the hospital. Doctors diagnosed a low level of hemoglobin and offered treatment with medicines or a transfusion of donor blood. Parents preferred medicines, but the hospital appealed to the court with a request to give her carte blanche for the use of donor blood. The decision also mentions that there was no threat to life, it was a question of planned treatment. The lawyer draws attention to the fact that in the court’s decision there is no mention of any of the organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
15:50 The judge asks the representative of the Ministry of Justice: if there is no mention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, what does this document have to do with this case.
15:53 The judge shall postpone the determination of the attachment of this document.
15:54 Lawyer Zhenkov begins to ask questions to the representative of the Ministry of Justice. The first question is: does the Justice Ministry have any information about any violations that were committed under the influence of the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses that was submitted to the FSEM. Answer from the Ministry’s representative: “No, we do not have such information.”
15:57 Lawyer Zhenkov specifies from the representative of the Ministry of Justice whether the respondent understands correctly that the Justice Ministry’s claims are reduced to three points: 1) import of extremist literature, 2) financing of MPOs, 3) failure to take effective measures to prevent extremist activity. The Ministry of Justice confirms that this is a true understanding, but this should be added “the threat of violation of human and citizen’s rights.”
Lawyers are unsuccessfully trying to find out exactly what human rights violations are meant.
Females are trying to clarify the point “the failure to take effective measures to prevent extremist activity.” He asked whether the Ministry of Justice knew about the timely letters sent by the center of Jehovah’s Witnesses to all MROs about the inclusion of certain materials in the FSEM? The Ministry of Justice knows. The next question: what, in the opinion of the Ministry, would be an effective measure? The Ministry of Justice does not know the exact answer to this question. The lawyer asks the representative of the Ministry of Justice whether there is such a criterion of extremist activity as inaction. It’s obvious to everyone that there is no such criterion.
16:10 Zhenkov asks whether the Ministry of Justice knows that materials that are considered extremist constitute 0.1% of the entire literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Ministry of Justice does not know this. Is it known to the Ministry of Justice that the Rostov Regional Court, which recognized 34 publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses as extremist, at the same time refused to recognize the extremist dozens of others.
16:19 Zhenkov clarifies whether it is known to the Ministry of Justice that literature has not been imported to Russia for two years. The Ministry of Justice knows this. Then there is a natural question, why in 2017 the Ministry of Justice raised the issue of liquidation. The Ministry of Justice can not provide facts confirming that during the last 12 months the Management Center distributed “extremist” literature.
16:13 The Ministry of Justice informs that the date of entering materials into this list is not specified in the FEMC.
16:24 The judge asks the representative of the Ministry whether it is possible to file claims of the religious organization, as well as customs, for the fact that materials imported into the country that in the future will be considered extremist? How to know in advance what material will be included in the FEMC. The representative of the Ministry of Justice: no way, just contact the FSEM.
4:30 pm The representative of the defendant Yuri Toporov is trying to find out what the Ministry of Justice puts into the concept of “the structural subdivision of the world organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses”. What is a “world organization”? Is this some sort of legal entity? The Ministry of Justice believes that no, it is a question of a certain canonical concept. What is a “structural unit”? Is this a legal concept? No, rather a canonical connection. The next question is: in what sense then does the Ministry of Justice use this term in relation to the LRO, saying that they are “structural subdivisions of the Management Center”? In canonical or legal? The representative of the Ministry of Justice believes that this is the same.
16:37 Toporov is trying to find out whether the “extremist law” can be passed to the “structural subdivision” without making the organization itself. The Ministry of Justice is forced to admit that a warning must be issued to the entire organization.
16:40 The logical question of Toporov: if a warning was issued to a local religious organization and not issued to the Management Center, then how can this local organization be the “structural unit” of the center? No way.
16:42 The Ministry of Justice now believes that issuing a warning to the “structural unit” is not prohibited by law, which means that the prosecutor’s office could do it. What is not forbidden is allowed. The judge clarifies with the representative of the Ministry, were any of the notifications of the religious organization (the management center) then directed at least? There is no information that such notifications are sent.
16:46 A new question from Toporov to the Ministry of Justice. Does the law on combating extremism provide for the possibility of liquidating a “structural unit” without liquidating the organization itself? The representative of the Ministry of Justice: “According to your interpretation, does not provide”. The judge asks the plaintiff to accept the answer of the ministry in this form.
16:53 Questions to the Ministry of Justice are asked by the lawyer Omelchenko. He asks if there is a department in the Ministry of Justice capable of answering when a particular book appeared on the Federal List of Extremist Materials. The Justice Ministry believes that the answer to this question can be obtained through a judicial request.
16:56 Omelchenko asks about federal forensic centers under the Russian Ministry of Justice. He points out that these centers came to diametrically opposite conclusions about the presence or absence of signs of extremism. Question of Omelchenko: how could this be possible. The representative of the Ministry does not know. The next question is: why did the Justice Ministry support only the negative conclusions of the experts and did not support the positive conclusions? Unknown. Was the Ministry of Justice initiating a review of the decisions in cases when there was such a contradiction? Representative of such facts are unknown.
16:58 Omelchenko recalls that earlier today the court asked the Ministry of Justice whether the ministry initiated a review of the list of extremist materials after the amendments were made to the law, for example, that the Bible and quotations from it can not be recognized as extremist materials. There were no such initiatives on the part of the Ministry of Justice.
17:07 Questions to the representative of the Ministry of Justice are given by the representative of the defendant Maxim Novakov. He is trying to find out if the Ministry of Justice knows the circumstances of those events that are attributed to Jehovah’s Witnesses as “extremist activity”. For example, do they know why for the searches of Jehovah’s Witnesses the special services were de-energizing whole blocks in which the liturgical buildings are located. The Ministry of Justice does not know the facts. There are no other questions on the part of the defendant to the Ministry of Justice.
17:13 The court announces a break in the court session until April 7, 2017 10:00. The entrance to the building will be open from 9:00.
In Moscow, a soft rain drizzles. Along the facade of the Supreme Court stretched a large queue of those who came to the process as listeners. A large bus is parked at the courthouse on Povarskaya Street, full of obviously bored police officers. Such a loud process seems to be a riotous event for court employees. However, surprising calm, which, despite obvious excitement, is preserved by hundreds of believers, convinces better than any words that extremism is not about them.
9:40 am The Great Hall of the Supreme Court is gradually filled with listeners and journalists.
10am The process began with questions of the court to the representative of the Ministry of Justice. The court is trying to understand that the plaintiff charges the Management Center with an episode from 2014, when, according to the ministry, the Management Center imported a publication to Russia, which would later be recognized as extremist materials. The court is interested in the question of how the religious organization could know that the book will be recognized as extremist if it is not in the FSEM.
10:10 The court tries to understand which rule of law the Justice Ministry relies on, arguing that local religious organizations (MPOs) are “structural subdivisions” of the Management Center. The Justice Ministry believes that this is logical, since organizations read the same literature and are related to each other. The court asks how, in this case, this meets the requirements of legal certainty. Will this not violate the right to freedom of religion enshrined in the European Convention? After all, it was denied the involvement of 395 organizations to participate in the case as co-defendants. Questions remain without distinct answers.
10:20 The judge asks the representative of the Ministry of Justice, on the basis of which they claim that the financing of the LRO by the Management Center is precisely the financing of “extremist activity”? What is objectively proved? If nothing, then what are the claims of the Ministry of Justice based on?
10:28 The queue of objections goes to the defendants. However, first of all, the lawyer Omelchenko applies for the inclusion in the case of extracts from the Russian newspaper with the dates of the entry of certain publications into the FSEM. The court adjuncts.
10:35 The first speaker is Vasily Kalin, chairman of the steering committee of the “Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.” Are today’s efforts to prohibit Witnesses lawful? For 26 years, the center has not been held accountable for extremism. “If we have been good all these years, at what point have we become extremists?” If the ban happens, significant harm will be done, and the persecution has already begun. People will be persecuted only for the joint reading of the Bible, and we have already passed. We have already been put on a par with such organizations as the Taliban, Aum Senrique and others. The position of Jehovah’s Witnesses is unchanged: obey the authorities, pray for them. Always adhere to the principles of peacefulness.
Kalin tells the circumstances of the repression of this religion in the USSR, which he remembers himself. He shows the court a certificate of a rehabilitated victim of political repression. He asks what certificate now he wants from the Ministry of Justice and his co-religionists. The actions of the Ministry of Justice throw the country into the past.
10:50 Performs Deputy Kalina, Sergei Cherepanov. He tells us what measures were taken by the center of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the prevention of extremism.
10:57 Cherepanov mentions that the center of Jehovah’s Witnesses is on the list of the most dangerous organizations. He is not a lawyer, but thinks that the actions of the ministry lead the fight against extremism on a false track. In recent years, 20 criminal cases have been instituted against Jehovah’s Witnesses under article “Extremism.” Although most cases ended in acquittals, the rights of believers were significantly violated, and their lives were marred.
11:05 Cherepanov mentions cases of throws and falsifications that were reported to law enforcement agencies, but are completely ignored by the police and other bodies. There is no doubt that the center of Jehovah’s Witnesses has taken all possible measures to counter extremism. The deputy prosecutor general, who signed a warning a year ago to Jehovah’s Witnesses, refused a meeting at which it would be possible to clarify what other measures the supervisory authority could expect from Jehovah’s Witnesses.
They struggle with extremism in the whole civilized world. However, only in Russia for this persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose worship in the world is visited by about 20 million people. To pursue them in Russia is to challenge all those countries where Jehovah’s Witnesses freely profess their faith. At this Cherepanov ends his speech and asks to attach the theses of his speech to the case.
Full text of the explanation of S.Cherepanov. (PDF, 226 KB)
11:15 The speech of lawyer Zhenkov. He convincingly proves that, contrary to the Justice Ministry’s assertion, among the goals and objectives of the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses there is no extremism. If for 100 years unofficially and 26 years of officially existence of Jehovah’s Witnesses there was no proven harm from their activities, then what harm does the Ministry of Justice refer to?
11:20 Zhenkov draws attention to the fact that the vast majority of Witness publications were included in the FEMC 8 years ago. During these years there was not a single terrorist act or act of vandalism on the part of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Nothing of the kind happened before.
11:24 Zhenkov draws attention to the fact that all these publications were included in the FSEM before the famous resolution of the plenum of the Supreme Court, which explained that extremism can not be considered criticism of other religions.
11:25 Zhenkov emphasizes that only some experts find signs of extremism in the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Often unskilled experts work. Courts consider cases in the absence of believers. For example, one of the brochures, which contains almost no text, was considered extremist for the phrase “Avoid bad deeds.” In response to laughter in the room, Zhenkov said that people who are being searched because of this brochure are not to laugh.
11:30 Two other publications have been made to the FSEM, but Jehovah’s Witnesses still do not know why, despite many requests and requests. “If so consider printed texts, then Russia can soon be left without books!”
11:35 Zhenkov: It seems that the prosecutor’s office is trying by any means to recognize as extremist as possible a large number of materials of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For example, the prosecutor’s office sued the recognition of the extremist Bible itself, despite a direct reservation in law that the Bible and quotations from it can not be considered extremist. From the prosecution’s argument: “Taken as a book, the Bible ceases to be a Bible, which it is only in the Church.” (Laughter in the hall.)
11:39 Zhenkov draws attention to the fact that cases related to the recognition of the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses as extremist have been appealed to the ECHR. 22 complaints and combined into one production. In response to a request from the Strasbourg Court, the Russian Federation formally acknowledged that the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses does not contain open calls for violence.
11:45 The Supreme Court repeatedly ruled that the cases of recognizing the materials of Jehovah’s Witnesses as extremist did not affect the rights of the “Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia”, and these decisions were not abolished. And the Ministry of Justice now believes that on the contrary, it affects the rights of the center. But this is a mistake.
11:55 Lawyer Zhenkov documents that the printed materials were never imported into the country after they were recognized as extremist. This also applies to all episodes that the Ministry of Justice imputes to believers in their lawsuit.
12:05 When almost every publication in the country was imported to the center of Jehovah’s Witnesses, there were results of examinations that did not reveal any signs of extremism in them. Thus, the center could not foresee that these or other materials can be considered extremist. Legislation is based on the principles of legal certainty and predictability of the consequences of certain actions. However, in the actions of state bodies against Jehovah’s Witnesses, this principle is clearly not observed.
12:10 Speech representative Respondent Toporov. “The extremism of Jehovah’s Witnesses remains extremism on paper.” No victims, victims or victims of alleged “extremist” activities, either the Prosecutor’s Office or the Justice Ministry could not have imagined.
12:12 Топоров refutes the thesis of the Ministry of Justice on “financing of extremism”. The financial aid directed by the LRO was directed to the service of liturgical buildings, payment of public utilities, sometimes to help believers who suffered from natural disasters.
12:17 Representative of the Axes: The Ministry of Justice encourages the Supreme Judiciary of the country to resort to double standards. Earlier, the court, with the support of the Ministry of Justice, held a consistent position that decisions against local organizations did not affect the rights of the Management Center. Now the position of the ministry has changed to the exact opposite. It is trying to extend the sanctions imposed on several local organizations to the center and to all the other 395 local religious organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
12:22 Toporov analyzes the legal meaning of the concept of “entering the structure of a centralized organization”. Referring to the legislation, statutes and legal opinions, Toporov shows that we are talking only about the canonical, spiritual connection. Local religious organizations are not branches and representations of a centralized organization.
12:37 Toporov explains that centralized and local organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses are not responsible for each other’s obligations. The Center is not the founder of any of the LROs. Each of them has its own membership of founders of 10 or more citizens. Each LRO has its own unique name, its own charter, detached property, the right to enter into civil-law contracts. Referring to the judge, Toporov cites an analogy: the entire judicial system of Russia is a single structure, but the regional courts are not structural subdivisions of the Supreme Court, but are independent institutions.
12:43 Toporov wondered why the overwhelming majority, more than 380 MROs of Russia, who never received any claims from the state, should be eliminated, even without any warning and the opportunity to change something? In the case there are hundreds and hundreds of results of inspections of various departments that did not reveal any violations in the activities of all these LROs. 22 Crimean MPO, registered under Russian law and not having committed any violations, are perplexed, for what they should be recognized as extremist, and their property confiscated? Why is the Moscow MRO, registered under the order of the ECHR and not having committed a single offense, should be subjected to such severe sanctions?
12:52 Statement by the representative of Maxim Novakov. His speech is devoted to the analysis of the so-called “new facts of extremist activity”, to which the Ministry of Justice refers in its suit. We are talking about fines imposed on several MPOs because of the discovery of extremist materials in the liturgical buildings.
13:06 The management center was not involved in business, so it did not have an effective opportunity to raise the issue of provocations. Meanwhile, no evidence for the court can have established strength. Judicial orders for imposition of fines can not have prejudicial force. Otherwise, this would be a violation of the right to a fair trial. Decisions referenced by the court are beautiful closed “boxes”, but the content of these “boxes” is not so intuitive. To have a holistic picture and give an objective assessment, the court must assess the circumstances of what happened. The riot police rush into the services, throw all the men to the floor, they were not allowed to even raise their heads, while unknown men move uncontrollably through the building. The cameras recorded how the OMON stormed a liturgical building and police officers tossed forbidden materials into the cabinet, and then they were “discovered.”
13:12 Novakov tells an interesting detail, recently found in the materials of one case. It turned out that on one of the thrown publications there is an inscription testifying that this publication belongs to one of the Orthodox anti-sectarian centers!
13:18 Novakov draws attention to the fact that the term structural subdivision is defined in the title of the relevant chapter of the law. The concept of “structural unit” is relevant only to political parties.
The court announces a break until 12 April 2017 10:00.
Audio recordings of speeches:
Why is it wrong to consider Jehovah’s Witnesses to be extremists?
Four facts that allow us to see the situation in a different light.
Why are some publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses included in the list of extremist materials (FEMC)?
Three reasons that formed the basis for all accusations of extremism.
Why are Jehovah’s Witnesses tossing forbidden literature?
Evidence has accumulated that law enforcement agents and collaborators with them systematically print media outlets for services. Why?