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Russia Supreme Court considers ban on Jehovah's Witnesses

Associated Press logo Associated Press 6/04/2017

MOSCOW — State news agency RIA Novosti says Russia's Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the city court in Birobidzhan to ban the Jehovah's Witnesses, a decision that comes amid proceedings on a Justice Ministry suit to ban the religious organization in Russia altogether.

Jehovah's Witnesses claim more than 170,000 adherents in Russia. The group, however, has come under increasing pressure over the past year, including a ban on distributing literature deemed to violate Russia's anti-extremism laws.

Russian investigators inspected the religion's headquarters in St. Petersburg in February.

David Semonian, a spokesman at its world headquarters in New York, said regarding the proposed national ban that the Jehovah's Witnesses hope "Russia's Supreme Court will uphold the rights of our fellow believers in Russia to freely carry out their peaceful worship."

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