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Russian Jehovah’s Witness Cleared on Extremism charges

MOSCOW (RNS/ENInews) A Jehovah’s Witness on trial in Siberia was found innocent on Thursday (April 14) of charges of “inciting religious hatred and enmity,” in a case that was seen as a litmus test of Russian religious freedom.

Aleksandr Kalistratov had been accused of distributing Jehovah’s Witnesses literature, which has been qualified as extremist in Russia under a law intended to fight hate crimes and Islamic extremism.

The criminal case against Kalistratov was one of nearly a dozen similar ones against Jehovah’s Witnesses across Russia. April also marks the 60th anniversary of the Soviet mass deportation of Jehovah’s Witnesses to Siberia in 1951.

Critics say the law is applied randomly and unfairly. At a news conference in Moscow, Kalistratov’s lawyer read from a Russian Orthodox catechism that described other religions as being “from the devil.”


The St. Petersburg-based Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in Russia issued a statement saying “the charges against Kalistratov and other Jehovah’s Witnesses … are absolutely groundless and serve as a vivid example of the wrongful application” of the law.

Mikhail Odintsov, who represented Kalistratov on behalf of the office of Russia’s Kremlin-appointed human rights ombudsman, said he hopes the verdict will help officials to “finally open their eyes and see that the fate of millions and millions of Russian citizens depends on their actions, their behavior, their inner convictions and sentiments.”

– SOPHIA KISHKOVSKY, Religion News Service

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Good luck to the Russian Jehovah’s Wittnesses. They are nice people, and have a right to what they believe in. I just object to them coming to my front door, uninvited. I object to any salesman coming to my front door to sell me something I didn’t ask for.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sean

    Yes Jehovah’s Witnesses ARE good people and the Russian population should be given a chance to see that for themselves. These ministers are not selling anything and they do not personaly profit; they simply obey the command of Christ Jesus to preach and teach about “the good news of the Kingdom” (of God). Governments that feel weak or vulnerable do not find such a message appealing but when judges stand for what is morally right and show conviction, it honours it’s nation by demonstrating confidence that they are capable of making informed decisions. After so many years of harsh suppression and propoganda, there must be a reason that their work persists. I wish everyone had such moral courage of conviction.

  • Danny Haszard

    Jehovah’s Witnesses restrict freedom for their own dissident members..
    They have won 37 of their 46 US Supreme court cases assuring us all of freedom of speech and assembly and equal protection under the law.

    The sad irony is that the Watchtower Society *daily* abuses the human rights of thousands of its members. It denies current members the right of free speech by forbidding them to speak to former members, even close family members.
    And it denies former members their right of freedom of worship by refusing to allow them to leave the religion with dignity, should they come to disagree with Watchtower’s practices or doctrines.

    Danny Haszard JW dissident

    My Life story with JW

    (( Jehovah’s Witnesses are noted for their chief doctrine that Jesus had his second coming in 1914 ))

  • Danny Haszard

    Join the Jehovah’s Witness, get baptized and if you ever disagree with even the smallest details of their teachings (and dare to tell anyone) then you get disfellowshiped.

    You will be shunned by family, friends and all baptized members.
    Truly this is a high control group that needs to be investigated before committing to.
    Be aware that as you start studying with them they will tell you that *Satan* will use your family to be against your conversion. Why wouldn’t they be against this high control group?
    Your real family loves you and cares about you, not some religion that is run by a dozen or more old men in New York state.

    Do a lot of homework and know fully what you are getting involved with.

  • David Logan

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses will often find themselves harassed by governments that are more authoritarian than themselves.

    More and more governments are recognizing the dangers of high-control religious cults like Jehovah’s Witnesses.They abuse their members and create divisions and even destruction of the social fabric of societies,demanding that their cult leaders dictates be obeyed above everybody else.
    While such cults complain that it is their *healthful teachings* that they espouse that are upsetting the authorities,the truth of the matter is that the governments do not really care so much what these cults BELIEVE,but it is rather their persistent destruction of the personality and identity of the victim who joins the cult.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Your Name

    The Russians dont have any authority to restrict worship to whomever wishes to. Jehova’s witnesses are not a cult but people obeying Jesus’ commandment to take his word to all corners.They obey all God’s commands as directed by the bible.Freedom of worship exists.Doctrines taught by them simply reflect on what Jehovah,is requesting of us.

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