To the Judicial Board
For Civil Cases
Of the Moscow City Court
OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE OF MOSCOW
OF THE NORTHERN
125252, Moscow, 21 Kuusinena Street
May 4, 2001. No.
On the Decision of the Golovinsky
Intermunicipal Court of Moscow
Dated February 23, 2001, presented by the
Prosecutor of the NAD of Moscow “To Liquidate
and Ban the Activity of the Religious
Organization ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’
In the City of Moscow”
The prosecutor of the Northern Administrative District (NAD) of Moscow filed an Application to liquidate and ban the activity of the religious organisation “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in the city of Moscow.
The prosecutor, as a basis for the application, alleged that the literature-printed publications used by the religious community as instructive material while teaching [individuals] and intended for wide distribution among the population-contains signs of incitement to religious discord, and the prescribed requirements in this literature, which must be met by its members, coerce to destroy the family; infringe upon the individual and the rights and freedoms of the citizenry; incline [others] to commit suicide or refuse medical care for religious reasons, and lure teenagers and minor children into the organisation’s activity. Since the main form of activity, according to Part 2.2 of the Community’s Charter, “is combined profession and dissemination of the faith by means of distribution of religious literature and printed materials,” the activity of the organisation contradicts the Constitutional provisions, current federal legislation, and its own Charter registered by the Department of Justice of the city of Moscow.
By means of the decision of the Golovinsky Intermunicipal Court of Moscow, dated February 23, 2001, satisfaction of the above-mentioned application was denied.
I consider the decision of the court illegal, unfounded, and subject to reversal.
This decision is based on legally relevant circumstances improperly evaluated by the court with improper application of the regulations of substantive and procedural law. The court’s conclusions contradict case materials and, therefore, are subject to reversal for the following reasons.
By denying satisfaction of the prosecutor’s application, the court based its decision on the absence of solid facts proving that the “Community” deliberately incites religious discord, coerces to destroy the family, infringes upon the individual and the rights and freedoms of the citizenry, and inclines [others] to commit suicide or to refuse medical care. The court also cites the testimonies of the witnesses questioned during the process of the present court session, the witnesses questioned in February through March 1999, and the experts' conclusions.
However, the court’s conclusion is not based on the law nor on the case materials. In violation of Article 49 of the Civil Procedural Code (CPC) of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR), the court improperly established legally relevant circumstances that are significant for a proper resolution of the case, but gave an improper evaluation of the evidence at hand.
Thus, in accordance with Article 8 of the Federal Law, Article 14 “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations,” dated October 1, 1997, “Religious organisations are voluntary associations of citizens of the Russian Federation, and other individuals, . . . that are formed with the purpose of joint profession and spreading of faith, and have registered in the capacity of a legal entity according to the procedure established by law.”
The stipulations of Article 49 of the Civil Code (CC) of the Russian Federation (RF) define the legal capacity of a legal entity as the possibility “to have civil rights corresponding to the purposes of the activity provided in its founding documents and to bear the duties connected with this activity.” In accordance with Part 2, Article 61 of the CC of the RF, “A legal entity may be liquidated . . . by a decision of a court in case of conduct of activity . . . prohibited by a statue, or with other multiple or gross violations of a statue or other legal acts, . . . or in case of systematic conduct by a . . . religious organisation . . . of activity contradicting its charter purposes.” These legal provisions thoroughly correspond with the requirements of Article 14 of the Federal Law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations” dated October 1, 1997. The legislation does not relate the activity of the organisation to specific actions of its members, or attendees, nor is direct dependence between violation of the above-mentioned regulations and occurrence of specific negative consequences set forth. In this regard, the criminal case proceeding in the Prosecutor’s Office of the NAD of Moscow, in regard to these facts according to which the Application was filed (the fact of the illegal activity of the religious organisation “Jehovah’s Witnesses”), was repeatedly dismissed, but not due to the absence of a criminal act, but rather due to the absence of corpus delicti. (Volume 1, page/case 24, Order to Dismiss Criminal Case, dated April 13, 1998.) “Therefore, after appraising the gathered case materials, the investigation considers that the religious organisation “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” by its activity, violates international laws on human rights and Russia’s laws, although solid facts proving that members of the given organisation had committed a crime were not presented, and therefore, it is impossible to hold them on criminal charges,” since criminal charges against a legal entity are not stipulated. In its decision (Decision, p.11), the court simply stated that it had this order, but it did not give the needed evaluation to the given proof as having significant meaning for proper determination of the circumstances substantiating the prosecutor’s requirements.
Since, according to Part 2.2 of the Community’s Charter, “the main goal, object, and form of activity is joint profession and spreading of faith, and conducting of religious activity that is carried out, among other ways, by means of distribution of religious literature and printed materials . . . ,” the prosecutor, as a basis for its requirements, refers to the illegal activity of the religious organisation “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in the form of widespread propaganda, literature containing anti-constitutional purposes and incitement (preamble of the Application), which was confirmed during the court examination by the conclusion of the composite expert examination and other evidence.
Therefore, the court improperly defined the circumstances having meaning for proper resolution of the case and substantiating the prosecutor’s requirements. On this basis, the court reached an improper conclusion regarding the absence of any factual evidence.
By its determination of March 12, 1999, to appoint a composite expert examination based on printed texts and documents, the court in fact confirmed the importance of viewing the printed literature distributed by JWs as part of the fundamental, legally relevant evidence of the case. Nevertheless, in its decision, the court gave practically no evaluation of the analysis of the given literature. The court’s reference in its decision (Decision, p.15) to the permit issued by the State Committee of the Russian Federation for the Press, in accordance with the letter dated July 24, 1997, No. 11-5002-5705/69, to distribute The Watchtower and Awake! magazines in the territory of Russia, is unfounded and used by the court in violation of the requirements of Article 56 of the CPC of the RSFSR, since this document was not examined comprehensively nor in its entirety during the court session as proof that refutes the prosecutor’s arguments. Additionally, it contradicts other documents among the case materials. According to Part 18 of the Order of the Plenum dated April 14, 1988, No.3 (in the version of the Order of the Plenum dated December 21, 1993, No.11), “proceeding from the law’s requirements on procedural equality of the parties, and considering the duty of the plaintiff and the defendant to confirm the circumstances to which they refer, it is necessary during the court examination to carefully investigate every circumstance indicated by the parties in confirmation of their requirements and objections, and thus provide an establishment of truth for the case.” Nevertheless, the court did not establish if the organisation’s literature was studied when the permit was issued, and if it was, precisely which literature was studied. Were specialists or experts involved in this study, and if they were, who exactly was involved? Which questions were raised and resolved when the given permit was issued?
According to the court’s opinion (Decision, p.15), the prosecutor’s claim that the organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses coerces to destroy the family contradicts the case materials and it is not confirmed by any objective factual evidence. Rather, the testimonies of witnesses Y.F Slobodenyuk, G.Y. Maltsev, R.A. Zemlyanskaya, A.A. Losev, V.S. Burenkova, T.Y. Panina, and Ye.G. Bakayev, “simply show the stand relatives take when a member of their family becomes one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and it is unacceptable from the relatives' standpoint.” The witnesses explained to the court that initially they tried to understand the other beliefs, which is why they studied this organisation’s literature, attended the meetings, assemblies, and conventions. Conflicts within the family arose and a severing of the family and intimate bonds began due to the changed negative attitude towards the family of the relative, who had joined the organisation, clearly neglecting his obligations, and a change in moral standards. All of this to the detriment of the family, work, and social activity. The testimonies of the given individuals is completely confirmed by the experts' composite conclusion (Conclusion, p.10) “Unconditional subjection to all established rules of the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses, strict isolation of children, teenagers, and adults from their environment; large amounts of time spent in activity assigned by the organisation-are all to be considered as destructive tendencies in regard to family life.”
By giving the evaluation of the testimonies of A.P. Savinkin, N.V. Nikishina, Y.A Zhuravlyov, N.Y. Zhuravlyova, Y.F. Slobodenyuk, and G.Y. Maltsev, the court came to the conclusion (Decision, p.9), that “the testimonies simply show the stand relatives take. In broken families, the parents who uphold traditional views have tried to use the different beliefs of their former mates as an argument in disagreements about raising children. But such an introduction to the parent’s religious views is not contrary to the interests of the children.”
In addition to this, the prosecutor, by substantiating point 5 of its Application, “luring teenagers and minor children into the activity of the organisation,” (Application, p.8) indicated that “the organisation requires that children and teenagers regularly participate in congregation meetings . . . , from an early age learn to preach and distribute magazines.” This claim was confirmed during the court session by the testimonies of the indicated individuals regarding specific facts about the behaviour of their children who were drawn into the organisation’s activity against their (the parents’) will.
The court did not evaluate Savinkin’s testimony regarding the fact that Nikishina took their son to the meetings and preached with him on the street without his consent. (V. 2, p./c. 162) Their son became reserved and afraid of Armageddon. Nikishina testified that she began to give him The Watchtower and other printed publications of the organisation to read. The court did not evaluate Part 3 of the “Statement of Peaceful Settlement,” dated March 13, 2000, signed by Savinkin and Nikishina, in which it indicates that “it is forbidden to lure a child into religious associations against his will and without the consent of the parents,” and finally, that the child has resided with the father since 1998 until the present time.—Volume 3, p./c. 206.
Maltsev testified that his eldest son began to preach when he was 11 years old. He explained to his father in detail the instructions given for preaching. Both children have a “No Blood” card. He is against that. The children attend the meetings, assemblies, conventions, and gatherings. The youngest son is afraid of Armageddon. The court’s evaluation of these facts was also not reflected in its decision.
Y.A. Zhuravlyov testified that his eldest daughter and former wife forced his young son to attend the organisation’s meetings. (V. 2, p./c. 173) If he would disagree, they would lock him up alone in the apartment. His daughter, when still a minor, attended the meetings with her mother and preached on the streets. The son ran away to live with him in 1998, and has lived there since then. In 1994, without his consent, the daughter, who was then only 16 years old, obtained a “No Blood” card. In the presence of the children, his former wife took an axe and deliberately chopped up their baptismal crosses. She beat her son because he did not want to read the Bible. These testimonies were confirmed by witness N.Y. Zhuravlyova when she repeated three times that she became a baptised publisher-a member of the community-when she was 16 years old, that her mother took her and her brother to the meetings, and that she preached approximately five hours a week when she was 16 years old. (V. 2, p./c. 200) Young children and minors attend the meetings. Only the mother filled out the card to refuse a blood transfusion (this document is among the case materials), and a psychologist said that the child (brother) needs to live with his father for some time. These testimonies showing solid facts were not evaluated nor reflected in the decision, rather such actions were defined by the court as “an introduction to the parent’s religious views not being contrary to the interests of the children,” thereby ignoring the requirements of international provisions: Article 31, Part 1 of the “Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Article 5, Part 2 of the “Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Beliefs.” But concluding that “the court did not establish facts of active illegal luring of minors into the religious community” is contrary to case materials and Article 3, Part 5 of the Federal Law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations,” dated October 1, 1997, which does not give the concept of “illegal and active” involvement; rather, it forbids “the teaching of religion to underage children against their will and without the consent of their parents.”
Contrary to the stipulations of Article 56 of the CPC of the RSFSR, the court did not give an evaluation of the testimonies of the indicated individuals and other evidence used as a basis for this point of the Application, which is in agreement with the above-mentioned testimonies.
The court ignored the experts’ point made in the composite conclusion (p. 10) (certain instructions of the organisation create an intolerant and destructive atmosphere for the children in the family. . . . and are fraught with causes of serious and psychological trauma to the children). This statement is in total agreement with the testimonies of Professor Kondratyev who was questioned by the court as a witness. (V. 2, p./c. 138) His testimonies, according to the court’s opinion, “did not supply the court with any facts”, in spite of the fact that the witness “was acquainted with the internal directives, had watched many video materials, had chosen people himself for investigation who consider themselves convinced adherents,” and, finally, related specific case histories of people who had come under the organisation’s influence.—Decision, p. 11.
As a basis for its claim, the prosecutor referred to Professor Kondratyev’s conclusion: “the teaching and activity of this organisation contain factors that may lead to neuroticism and a state of depression.” (Application, p.4) During the court session, Kondratyev explained this thesis to the court (V. 2, p./c. 138): “After the adherent loses contact with his family and a new life begins, a breakdown ensues. This breakdown leads to stress and the person, predisposed to schizophrenia, becomes ill.” This statement was completely confirmed by witness Ivanova whose testimony was only partially evaluated by the court. (V. 2, p./c. 180) Before her son joined the organisation (in 1994), he was not only physically and psychologically normal, but he was also a socially active young man. In 1988, he returned from serving in the army with an official message of gratitude. He graduated from an institute in 1993. Her son’s psychological illness began to develop only after he became totally subject to the organisation.
The explanations of the indicated witnesses completely correspond to the experts’ deductions in their composite conclusion: “As a whole, the perception of the texts of ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ form in their audience: a) feelings of helplessly and passively awaiting instructions for salvation; b) a readiness to nervously and excitedly identify the world and people as their notorious enemies disposed to aggressive and resentful opposition against them. . . . This kind of stressful situation is maintained in the readers of the texts of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in the name of declared religious ideals . . .’”—Conclusion, pp. 5 and 7.
The court’s evaluation of these points, which are in agreement with other factual circumstances of the case that the prosecutor suggested as a basis for its requirements, is also absent.
The court’s conclusion that it “did not establish any facts proving that the organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses or its members inclined anybody to commit suicide or to refuse medical care for individuals who are in a life- or health-threatening condition for religious reasons,” (p. 16 of Ruling) is unfounded.
The court ignored the fact that the organisation hands out a special “No Blood” document, which every member, including children, is obligated to carry on their person. The contents of this document exclude any possibility of rendering necessary medical care to individuals who are in an obviously life- and health-threatening state. This is in direct conflict with Part 1, Article 41 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. This constitutional provision is in complete accordance with the stipulations of Article 6 of the “Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Article 17 of the “CIS Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,” and Part 3, Article 18 of the “International Pact on Civil and Political Rights.”
The court’s reference to Articles 30 and 33 of the Federal Law “On the Fundamentals of Legislation of the Russian Federation for the Protection of Citizens' Health,” is unlawful and testifies to the improper interpretation of the indicated law, which, according to Article 307, Part 3 of the CPC of the RSFSR, is improper application of the regulations of substantive law. The indicated regulation applies to the “citizen and his legal representative.” Articles 26-35 of the CC of the RF establish a strict list of individuals that fall under the legal concept of “legal representative,” as well as stipulate the procedure of declaring physical individuals as legal representatives. Therefore, the phrase written in the “No Blood” document: “In case I lose consciousness, I authorise any of the witnesses named below to see that my decision is upheld,” is in total conflict with Article 33, Part 2 of the Federal Law “On the Fundamentals of Legislation of the Russian Federation for the Protection of Citizens’ Health,” since a citizen in an unconscious state cannot answer for his actions, while, according to the law, a witness who is present does not possess the rights of a legal representative.
Moreover, based on Article 15 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which has supreme legal force, provisions of international treaties and constitutional provisions have supreme legal force over federal legislation.
The court did not evaluate the experts' combined conclusion, in part: “inculcating into the believers’ consciousness a dogma, which under certain circumstances may turn out to be suicidal . . . the inclination to refuse medical care for religious reasons while in a life- or health-threatening state occupies a prominent place. . .”—Conclusion, p.12.
Also, the answer from the director of the State Scientific Centre of the Russian Academy of Medical Science, Academic A.I. Vorobyov: “Today, the saving of an individual’s life and the treatment for a wide array of illnesses and syndromes is possible only through the application of blood components.”
The court reviewed the letter signed by the assistant director of the Department of Public Health Provision and Preventive Treatment of Non-Infectious Diseases under the Ministry of Health, I.V. Pleshkov, which stated: “The refusal of transfusions of blood components and solutions during treatment of a number of illnesses as propagandised by the organisation 'Jehovah’s Witnesses' could lead to the patient’s death.”—Volume 3, p./c. 223.
These deductions were completely supported by what Haematologist Amelyanenko testified regarding the refusal of a blood transfusion by patient Semitko, which the court did not evaluate. Amelyanenko showed that Semitko could die at any minute from a cerebral haemorrhage. He needed a transfusion according to his vital signs. First of all, the patient did not have with him the “No Blood” card. It was brought to him later. They talked him out of it. She got the impression that Semitko was hypnotised. Community members suggested that the doctors use solutions that were contraindicative. Only fraudulently were they able to transfuse the patient with plasma. Moreover, among the case materials is the Order to dismiss the criminal case, which states, “during the process of the preliminary investigation, the following was established: Semitko’s physician, A.V. Batalov, who was questioned as a witness, showed that two members of the sect approached him and insisted that Semitko not be given a blood transfusion. . . . He saw that sectarians visited Semitko every day and thinks that they persuaded him not to accept a blood transfusion.”—Volume 1, p./c. 380.
In violation of Article 55 of the CPC of the RSFSR, the court excluded from the evidence the decision of the Khoroshevsky Intermunicipal Court of Moscow dated May 21, 1997. According to the stipulations of the indicated regulation, “Facts established by the decision of a court in a civil case, which has become legally effective, are not proved again during the examination of other civil cases in which the same individuals are participating.” In its decision of May 21, 1997, the court considered as an established [fact] that the information contained in A.L. Dvorkin’s brochure on “totalitarian sects” (including the activity of “Jehovah’s Witnesses”), corresponds to reality . . . The court based its conclusions, in part, on the testimonies of V.S. Burenkova and A.A. Losev, “whose children and close relatives had become victims of this sect,” but specifically on “the solid facts mentioned by them and corroborated by documents., regarding the antisocial and the anti-State nature of this organisation.” (According to the same circumstances, these individuals were questioned during the recent court examination.)
The conclusion that “the court did not establish facts proving that the members of the religious organisation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Moscow refuse to perform alternative service,” does not correspond to the circumstances substantiating the prosecutor’s demands in this part, and so on page 6 of the Application it is claimed that “the literature used by the organisation incites citizens to refuse military service and alternative service.” (Decision, p.16) This argument in the Application was completely corroborated by the expert’s conclusion regarding question 3: “The literature and documents of Jehovah’s Witnesses contain . . . an appeal to refuse both ordinary military service and its alternative.”—Conclusion, p. 16.
In this regard, the court’s referring to the copy of the Order of the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, dated March 13, 1996, to deny the protest of the Deputy General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation against the criminal case involving O.A. Mikhailov, as proof to refute the prosecutor’s requirements, is unfounded since the text of the indicated document does not show if Mikhailov expressed a desire to accept alternative civil service or not.—Decision, p. 16.
Regarding the legal concept of religious discord, the court did not clarify itself within the limits of the actions of the actual term but simply cited Article 20 of the “International Pact on Civil and Political Rights.” (Decision, p. 15) Thus the court made the improper conclusion that the community does not incite religious discord. Article 2, Part 2 of the “Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Beliefs” states, “the expression ‘intolerance and discrimination based on religion’ means any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on religion or beliefs and having as its purpose or as its effect nullification or impairment of the recognition, the enjoyment, or the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis.”
The aforementioned signs are present in the literature of “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” which is distributed among the population, and were confirmed by the experts’ composite conclusion and the testimonies of Kondratyev, Ovsienko, Metlik and others.
When separately analysing the court’s evaluation of the composite expert conclusion of October 4, 2000, it should be noted that a number of significant violations of procedural regulations were made by the court when the indicated conclusion was excluded from among the case evidence—Decision, p. 14.
According to the explanations of the Order of the Plenum dated December 21, 1993, No. 11 “On the court decision”: “The court’s evaluation of the conclusion must be reflected in full in the decision.”
According to the court’s opinion, “not one of the experts could explain to the court on the basis of what objective information or research they came to the given conclusion regarding the influence of the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses on people’s perception.” (Decision, p. 14) However, this statement is in complete contradiction with both the case materials and the text of the Conclusion, reasons for which were totally confirmed by the experts during the court session. According to Article 306, Part 1, Point 3 of the CPC of the RSFSR, the fact that the court’s conclusions as outlined in the decision does not correspond to the case circumstances serves as a basis to reverse the decision by cassational procedure.
According to the court’s determination dated March 12, 1999, experts were appointed to conduct a composite expert examination-the civil case materials, the literature and documents of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Synodal translation of the Bible were provided. While working out the conclusion of October 4, 2000, “The following expert methods were employed: (1) Study of case materials; (2) A linguistic, psycho-linguistic, literary studies, and religious studies analysis of the texts of the religious community “Jehovah’s Witnesses” presented for expert analysis.” (Conclusion, p. 1) The “psycho-linguistic analysis showed that the texts of 'Jehovah’s Witnesses' have deliberate, contextually-connected changes in the semantic structure of words.” (Conclusion, p.6) Such changes contribute to this re-orientation of the readers' civic conscientiousness towards a siege-like, military opposition to the world.
In his testimony to the court (which was not given an evaluation), expert-psycho-linguist V.P. Belyanin explained: “These texts are clearly designed to exert a direct influence and to increase the pressure of helplessness and fear, in order to cause an altered consciousness. I consider these texts to be part of the practise since they are distributed and memorised.” The court felt that “the experts failed to indicate the research methods they used to appraise the texts.” However, Belyanin explained that the VALL program used is a method of psycho-linguistic computer analysis of texts. (V. 3, p./c. 337) It is registered, has a trademark, and is patented. This program is well-known and used for research. It was confirmed that if the correlation between “bright” and “dark” lexis is more than 15%, then the text is considered to be gloomy, while critical magnitude is 22% (as in the texts of “Jehovah’s Witnesses”) and at this level the text is perceived as overwhelming-this is of very great magnitude. The remaining 56% of the words are words that have no special meaning.
The court’s decision not to “make the given conclusion the basis for its decision” is based on the fact that the four experts' conclusions are “simply based on the studied literature of the religious community. . (Decision, p. 14) Their perception of the actual influence of the texts of Jehovah’s Witnesses on its activists and individuals subject to involvement in this society, was not corroborated by any research.” In this way “the blame” is put on the experts for not investigating anyone from among the indicated group of individuals, while “only expert S.I. Ivanenko confirmed that he was able to observe how Jehovah’s Witnesses carry out their preaching work in different countries.”
I consider that in this case the court has seriously violated the rights of the experts as stipulated by Articles 75-77 of the CPC of the RSFSR.
In accordance with Article 74 of the CPC of the RSFSR, “The final decision with regard to the range of questions demanding expert witnesses’ opinions shall be determined by the Court.”
According to Article 76 of the CPC of the RSFSR, “the expert witness shall . . . present an objective conclusion with regard to questions put to him.”
In the court’s determination of March 12, 1999, the questions put before the experts did not indicate that the experts had the obligation or opportunity to investigate people first-hand who had been drawn or are being drawn into the organisation, and the influence of the literature on them. The experts explained to the court that they worked within the framework of the questions that were given to them by the court. They did not go beyond the framework of these questions. Experts V.P. Belyanin and D.A. Leontyev also clarified that a first-hand investigation of people would require additional time, financial expenses, special equipment, and so on, but such a question was not put before them. Therefore, if the court considered the research conducted by the experts as insufficient for proper resolution of the case, then, in accordance with the stipulations of Article 181 of the CPC of the RSFSR, “If the expert opinion is not fully clear or is incomplete, then the Court may schedule an additional examination.”
The court makes the unfounded claim that “it is simply the experts' appraisal of the given religious organisation, which is not supported by any actual facts showing incitement to religious discord, infringement infringements upon the individual and the rights and freedoms of the citizenry.” The testimony given to the court by expert M.M. Gromyko totally refutes that conclusion (since we are talking about fairly complicated but principled concepts, the testimony should be cited word for word (author)): “Incitement to religious discord is a verbal, textual, and long-operating factor, which would not necessarily bring about an immediate armed conflict. This factor influences the mass psychology and disturbs social stability. We are talking about a potential threat to the social peace of the majority of the population. The results of incitement to religious discord can show up much later, but discontent is already evident. There are break-ups in the home, bothering people on the streets, massive propaganda . . . meaning the social-psychological situation of alienation from one’s own state and traditional culture. It is not just preaching, but it is a significant feature of the breach of social-psychological and spiritual stability. Social instability is a concept much deeper than an external feature. It is a state of mind, disposition, ideology, and continuity of culture. Phenomena of social psychology are also facts.”
However, the court did not give due evaluation of these testimonies, although they had significant meaning for proper resolution of the case.
The court’s reference in its decision to the State religious studies expert examination conducted by the Ministry of Justice of the RF, on the basis of which the Administrative Centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses was re-registered, as evidence to refute the prosecutor’s arguments, is unfounded. References to the given expert examination are cited in the separate conclusion of expert S.I. Ivanenko.
Witness M.I. Odintsov, member of the Expert Council, who was questioned during the court session and whose testimony was evaluated in part by the court, showed that according to the Rules of the Expert Council, they did not study the activity of the organisation “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” An organisation’s activity is not in their competence. He did not know anything about the organisation’s directive letters nor does he have the right to read these documents. Neither expert S.I. Ivanenko nor Odintsov could explain to the court which specific literature of the organisation of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” served as the basis for conducting the indicated expert examination. This testimony is completely corroborated by the Rules of the Expert Council for conducting a State religious studies expert examination under the Ministry of Justice of the RF, as confirmed by the order of the Ministry of Justice of the RF of October 8, 1998, No. 140, “a State religious studies expert examination is conducted in the cases stipulated by Article 11, Part 8 of the Federal Law ‘On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations’ (during re-registration), by request of the Department of Social and Religious Associations of the Ministry of Justice of the RF or the territorial agencies of Justice of the RF.” By appointing a composite expert examination involving religious scholars, psychologists, and linguists, the court defined that fact in its determination of March 12, 1999. Since the prosecutor’s Application concerned questions of illegal activity by the organisation, the court unlawfully and in violation of the stipulations of Article 53 of the CPC of the RSFSR, based its conclusion on the expert examination, which, according to the rules, does not consider questions of activity.
Moreover, among the case materials is a letter from the Ministry of Justice of the RF signed by Monakhov, the First Deputy Director of the Department of Social and Religious Associations, which states: “in the Federal Law ‘On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations,’ in Article 25, Part 2 , the mechanism of control over the chartered activity of religious organisations is not prescribed.”—Volume 3, p./c. 222.
In the concluding part of its decision, the court obligated the prosecutor to pay the experts' wages in full, thereby violating the stipulations of Articles 80 and 95 of the CPC of the RSFSR.
According to Article 79 of the CPC of the RSFSR, “Court costs consist of the state fee and the costs related to the trial of the case,” which, according to Article 86, Part 1, include “sums that are subject to payment to . . . expert witnesses.”
In accordance with Article 80, Part 8 of the CPC of the RSFSR, ‘Prosecuting agencies who file applications with regard to cases taken to court . . . in order to defend the rights and interests of other persons are released from payment of court costs.’ According to Article 88, 89 of the CPC of the RSFSR, “Sums that are subject to allocation to experts . . . shall not be paid by a party released from the payment of court costs . . .” Rather, they “shall be disbursed by the Court after the respective persons have fulfilled their obligations. . . . expert witnesses shall be paid these sums regardless of their collection from the parties.” Article 95 of the CPC of the RSFSR stipulates that “the costs incurred by the Court with regard to hearing the case shall be covered at the expense of the state.”
Under such circumstances, I consider the indicated court decision to be subject to reversal, as it was handed down in violation of the regulations of substantive and procedural law.
On the basis of the above-stated, in accordance with Articles 306, 308, and 324 of the CPC of the RSFSR,
That the ruling of the Golovinsky Intermunicipal (district) People’s Court of Moscow, dated February 23, 2001, on the civil case regarding the Application of the prosecutor of the NAD of Moscow “On the Liquidation of the Religious Community of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the City of Moscow and the Banning of its Activity” -
- BE REVERSED.
To direct the case for a new examination by the same court with a different composition of the court.
I.O. Prosecutor of the Northern
Administrative District of the
City of Moscow
Senior Counsellor of Justice G. Belikov