For Immediate Release
May 23, 2003
Moscow Court orders fourth “expert study”
MOSCOW—On May 22, the Golovinsky District Court ordered the Russian government to pay for a philological-psycho/linguistic expert study to be conducted on the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses published in the past ten years.
The study will be carried out by The Institute of the Russian Language of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and one psycho-linguist, Konstantin Igoryevich Alekseyev. Judge Vera Dubinskaya did not set a time limit for the study.
“This is nothing more than a determination to find experts who will support a ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses,” stated Artur Leontyev, defense attorney. “There has been expert study upon expert study since 1996 in the effort to refute key charges in this trial. This new attempt will only further draw out this harassment of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the courts. The last time an expert study was appointed in April 2002, a ten-month delay resulted.”
One sociological study entitled The Family and the Bible, conducted by A.I. Antonov, head of the Department of Family Sociology at the Lomonsov Moscow State University, established that the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses “plays an important role in strengthening the institute of the family.” In particular it shows a divorce rate among Jehovah’s Witnesses of less than 5 percent compared with 40 percent among the general population of Moscow. The study also revealed a much higher level of education among Jehovah’s Witnesses (when compared with that of the average Muscovite), which tends toward independent rational thinking and decision-making. “Tolerant attitudes and conduct improve the longer a person is a Witness,” said Professor Antonov.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are registered in 399 communities in 72 regions throughout the Russian Federation. In November 2002 an appeal court in Chelyabinsk ruled that the rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses to be registered as a legal entity were protected under the Russian Constitution and the European Convention. Moscow remains the exception to re-registration under the 1997 religion law.
There are now over 130,000 active Witnesses in Russia, and this year 282,433 persons attended the commemoration of the death of Christ.
Contact: J. R. Brown, telephone: (718) 560-5600