RUSSIA - Russia wants to persecute "sects", steps up pressure on Jehovah's Witnesses [AN]


Duma studies legal paths to hold religious sects liable and stem their “growth” in the country. Meanwhile 16 Witnesses sentenced in Taganrog, in one of the largest “anti-extremism” trials of recent years.



the State Duma (the lower house of parliament) is studying how to introduce a legal concept of “sect” that does not violate the Constitution and could be used to ban the activities of certain religious organizations from the country.

That’s some scary stuff.

The article doesn’t explain why the Jehova’s Witnesses were considered extremists. All it mentions was that the group continued to meet after being banned. Why were they banned in the first place? Regardless of the details, this is setting a terrifying precedence.


In ways, I can see how possibly a foreign nation would not care to see what they perceive as a misguided faith born in another country set roots.

But we allow foreign religions to do this, Falun Gong, Unification Church and so on. So it is a hard call.

We do know of one regime that cracked down on the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the past though. This article from a few weeks ago probably gives a bit of detail on the situation, I thought initially, individual cities in Russia were banning the JWs.

Russia: Customs Impounds Religious Literature With ‘No Court Ruling’

More than ten million items of Jehovah’s Witness literature, including 4,000 Bibles in Russian and Ossetian, remain impounded by Russian customs on the border with Finland, Forum 18 News Service has learned. They were seized earlier in 2015 after Russian customs officials began preventing imports and confiscating materials on suspicion of “extremism”. Prosecutors are attempting through the courts to have at least some of the impounded literature declared “extremist”.

Since March 2015, all attempted shipments of Jehovah’s Witness literature have been blocked, spokesperson Ivan Belenko told Forum 18 on 16 November, “with no reason, no legal right and no court ruling”. Attempts by Russian and Finnish Jehovah’s Witnesses to challenge these actions through the arbitration courts have so far proved unsuccessful.

Perhaps, this is what basic human rights one talks about.


JW’s seem to be the brunt of persecuted sects cases a lot.
The Watchtower must really get into the craw of a lot of people.


The problem is that if you ban a “misguided” faith originating from another country, then where does it stop? If one’s problem is against the pernicious influence of foreign religions, then where does that leave, say, Catholicism, which used its influence to undermine the designs of *Soviet *Russia?


I don’t know if it’s necessarily the origination in another country that Russia objects to. Rather they seem far less accepting at a government level of anything that we’d classify as a newer religious movement. JW’s seem to fall into that. They also go after the smaller newer Pentecostal organizations, the LDS Church, the Unification Church, the Salvation Army, and Scientology.

They don’t seem to have as much issue with older established religions at the government level be it Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, etc… though even the larger religions other than the Russian Orthodox do seem to run into issues on occasion. But they do seem to have a line that certain religions and new religious movements fall on one side or the other of, and it’s weighted against newer and smaller religious groups. Definitely seems to be a system designed to protect the established churches in certain areas, primarily the Russian Orthodox.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit