March 1, 1999
Today, there was a significant step in the proceedings. The lawyer representing the Moscow City Department of Justice finally stated Moscow’s position as to banning Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Moscow City Department of Justice supports the application for a ban. The lawyer stated the request was justified because Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions, destroy the family and lure minors into the organization.
In answering the defense, she stated Jehovah’s Witnesses destroy the family by spending too much time preaching. They also coerce members to preach by telling them they will be destroyed at Armageddon if they fail to preach. When asked if she thought Armageddon was real or spiritual, she stated it was spiritual. She then admitted there was no coercion in a legal sense. As to the blood transfusion issue, she claimed the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses decides for its members. The existence of an advance directive or “no blood” card is evidence enough to prove coercion.
She further stated that Jehovah’s Witnesses ignore their civil responsibilities by refusing to serve in the military. She admitted that the Russian Federation Constitution allows for a person to choose alternative service, however, she responded “If everybody becomes Jehovah’s Witnesses, who will defend our country?” Defence attorney Krylova reminded her that the Department of Justice supervises religious organizations. What had the department done about checking into Jehovah’s Witnesses? “Nothing,” she answered.
Defense attorney Leontyev asked what religious activity the City of Moscow wanted banned. She stated preaching, renting of meeting places and unrestricted use of religious literature.
The prosecution next called Dr. N. Omelyanenko, head of hematology at City Hospital No. 40. One of Jehovah’s Witnesses, P. Semitko, had been treated in this hospital. He had refused a blood transfusion, but the attending doctor secretly administered blood to him without his consent. She stated that the doctor should decide what treatment the patient should receive, not the patient. When asked whether she was aware of the law requiring informed consent, she responded that Semitko had been hypnotized or “zombified”. Omelyanenko said she was not the treating physician, and was not present at the hospital when Semitko was treated. Dr. A. B. Batalov, who was the treating physician, was unable to come to the court. She explained that there were constant phone calls demanding that someone come and testify in court. She then read from the hospital records. She was asked if he would receive further blood transfusions and she said that he now knows. They cannot trick him again. She added that she made a photocopy of his “No Blood Transfusion” card and sent it with a letter to the President and the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. When asked why, she said that she was requested to do so.
The final witness of the day was G.Y. Maltsev. He is still married to his wife and she is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He stated that he allows his children to go to the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When asked by the judge why he testified, he explained he wanted to tell the court what he doesn’t like about the religious organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He objects to his children preaching and to them carrying the “No Blood Transfusion” card. In conclusion, he said he had a wonderful wife, and she would be pure gold if she was not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The trial will resume at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.