JEHOVAH’S Witnesses who are fighting to preserve their right to worship in Moscow have hit out at the Judge’s decision to suspend a court case which will decide their future.
The trial of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Moscow, which began as a criminal probe three years ago, has reached a new stage.
We are now in the midst of a theological debate,” says Judah Schroeder of Brooklyn, New York, who served as the movement’s observer at the proceedings.
On March 19, Jehovah’s Witnesses appealed against Judge Yelena Prokhorycheva’s ruling, which will allow a panel of experts to review the doctrines of the religious group, at the Moscow City Court, the capital’s highest court.
The response may take several weeks.
Arguing that the prosecution failed to present a credible case, Jehovah’s Witness officials asked for a dismissal.
They also point out that the prosecution has a 3 to 2 advantage in the experts’ committee, which has no deadline for its report.
“That study can be dragged out for months, a year, or more,” says Schroeder, “while we remain under a cloud.”
Schroeder is pleased with the support from the American embassy in Moscow which sent an observer to the trial.
He also spotted representatives from the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the European Union, as well as from
other religious communities in Russia.
“People know that ours
is a test case,” he says. “If we lose, we will appeal, and we
are prepared to go to the European court in Strasbourg.
“The Russian people should be allowed to choose for themselves how they want to worship God.”
Russia Renews Jehovah’s Witnesses.
RUSSIA has renewed the registration of Jehovah’s Witnesses, even though authorities in Moscow are trying to ban the group.
The registration of all religious groups in Russia had to be renewed after the passage of a religion law in 1997.
Any denomination that fails to secure a new registration would be effectively banned from practising in Russia.
The Justice Ministry took six months to study the literature and
operations of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and finally granted registration on Wednesday 5th May, 1999.