For Immediate Release
March 29, 2011
Despite opposition, Jehovah’s Witnesses cherish twenty years of official registration and growth in Russia
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia—On March 27, 1991, exactly 20 years ago, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia were officially registered after enduring decades of persecution and oppression. The Charter of the Administrative Center of the Religious Organizations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the former U.S.S.R. was signed by a ranking official of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. This official registration occurred on the one-hundred-year anniversary of the first Witnesses arriving in the country.
“After decades of persecution for our faith under an atheist government, which included being sent to prisons and into exile, we could let out a sigh of relief,” recalls Vasily Kalin, chairman of the Presiding Committee of the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. He added, “It is wonderful to see how many spiritually hungry people were able to gain knowledge of God and his wonderful purpose for the earth and mankind.” There are now 162,182 people in Russia participating in the Bible education work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, nearly 279,000 individuals in Russia attended the Memorial of Christ’s death on March 30, 2010, which was observed simultaneously in 2,339 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the country.
Each year, despite the propaganda being spread about Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia and a government sponsored campaign of harassment and mistreatment, thousands of Russian citizens are moved to discover for themselves the true nature of this Christian religion. “To be honest,” admits Masha, a 19-year-old girl in Khabarovsk, “in the past, I would avoid Jehovah’s Witnesses.” However, after reading a few copies of the magazines published by the Witnesses, she changed her attitude. “It is all so very interesting and enlightening,” writes Masha, “but most important, it makes you look at the world differently. I slowly began to understand why people are given a life to live.” Last year, more than 6,600 people in Russia were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although their membership is increasing, Jehovah’s Witnesses are still a religious minority in Russia, making up a very small percentage of the population.
In Russia: Grigory Martynov, telephone: +7 812 702 2691
In Belgium: European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses
Telephone: +32 2 782 0015
In Britain: European Association of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses
Telephone: +44 208 906 2211
In USA: J. R. Brown, telephone: +1 718 560 5600