For Immediate Release
January 19, 2011
Expert opinions exonerate literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia
NOVOURALSK, Russia—After court-appointed experts who examined several publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses presented their findings, the Novouralsk City Court on December 30, 2010, accepted the prosecutor’s withdrawal of a claim to have the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses pronounced as “extremist.” The experts found that these publications “do not contain any statements in the form of a call or incitement against any social, racial, national, ethnic or religious group or its representatives.” The court decision regarding these publications sets a precedent for all other courts and law-enforcement agencies in Russia.
Attorney Ye. S. Chernikov stated: “The findings of the specialists of the Ural Regional Center of Judicial Expert Studies and the Ural State University reveal more than the skill of each expert. They reveal the courage and adherence to certain principles of those experts. The conclusion is particularly noteworthy in view of the negative attitude these same experts expressed earlier regarding the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is well-known that the practice of applying the extremism law is always based on the opinions presented by the experts in religious studies and linguistics. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for religiously biased specialists to attempt to unjustly include in their findings signs of incitement to hatred, which, for example, can be noted in the expert study by Kemerovo State University. To my knowledge, these biased experts are later criticized by the scientific community for lack of competence.”
This is not the first time that a prosecutor withdrew a claim demanding that the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses be pronounced “extremist.” A year ago, the Samara Regional Court accepted the withdrawal of a claim to have the book Mankind’s Search for God, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses, pronounced “extremist.” The experts of the state institution of the Russian Federal Center of Judicial Expert Studies of the Russian Federation Ministry of Justice came to the definite conclusion that no signs of extremism were found in the book.
In Russia: Grigory Martynov, tel. +7 812 702 2691
In Belgium: The European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses, tel. +32 2 782 0015
In USA: J. R. Brown, tel. +1 718 560 5600