RUSSIA: Jehovah's Witnesses Win Moscow Court Case.

by Geraldine Fagan, Keston News Service, 23 February 2001

The judge at Golovinsky Municipal Court today (23 February) announced that the Moscow community of Jehovah's Witnesses has won the long-running court case against their activity in the capital, Jehovah's Witness representative Paul Gillies told Keston News Service. The ban was sought in September 1998 by the prosecutor of Moscow's Northern Administrative District under Article 14 of Russia's 1997 law on religion, which, among other provisions, outlaws religious organisations found to have incited religious hatred or damaged their members' health.

Also speaking to Keston this afternoon, Jehovah's Witness lawyer Artur Leontiyev said that Judge Yelena Prokhoricheva has additionally ordered the prosecution to pay a total of 80,000 roubles (approximately 2,800 US dollars or 1,800 pounds sterling) in costs for the expert commission of five specialists which has been considering the evidence for the past two years. The prosecution has ten days to appeal against the verdict.

Keston has been unable to confirm the decision with the court, which has not yet released any written verdict. According to Gillies, however, a statement setting out the motivation for the judge's decision will be issued by the court in approximately one week. Gillies commented to Keston that this was the first time that a Russian court has come out with such a positive decision for the Jehovah's Witnesses: 'It is a clear move forward for the independent judiciary in this country,' he told Keston. (END)