For Immediate Release
February 11, 2002
Freedom of religion hinges on Moscow court case
A test case that will decide the future of religious freedom for people in Moscow and throughout the Russian Federation and the former Soviet republics will start up again in a north Moscow municipal court on Tuesday, February 12. While it involves Jehovah’s Witnesses, freedom of worship for all people throughout Russian is being challenged.
Almost one year ago, on February 23, 2001, Judge Yelena Prokhorycheva, of the Golovinsky Intermunicipal District Court in Moscow, completely denied an application that Jehovah’s Witnesses be liquidated and their Christian form of worship be banned. However, the Moscow City Court sent the case for retrial on May 30. The Witnesses, who had been banned throughout the Soviet era and spent long spells in Siberian gulags for their faith, appealed the decision in September. Approximately 10,000 people signed a petition requesting that the Prosecutor’s Office refrain from attempts to liquidate the church and ban its worship.
Ludmilla Alekseyeva, who chairs the Helsinki Group in Moscow, commented: 'Modern-day persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been carried on for six years. Surely it will not take another six years before justice triumphs.'
Contact: J. R. Brown (718) 560-5600