April 4, 2002
The Golovinskiy Intermunicipal District Court of the Northern Administrative Circuit of the City of Moscow
composed of the following:
Presiding Federal Judge V.K. Dubinskaya
Lay Judges V.V. Klepikova and G.A. Rogova
With the participation of the prosecutor, T.I. Kondratyeva
Attorneys G.A. Krylova and A.Ye. Leontyev
As secretary, Ye.Ye. Valenteychik
Having considered at an open court session civil case No. xxx for the application of the prosecutor of the Northern Administrative Circuit (NAC) of the city of Moscow to liquidate and to ban the activity of the religious community “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” the court
The NAC prosecutor of Moscow filed an application with the court to liquidate and to ban the activity of the religious community “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” alleging that this organization violates the requirements of the law. In particular, its literature and practices, according to the appellant’s claims, contain regulations that promote religious discord, break up families, incline [others] to commit suicide and refuse medical care for religious reasons, and infringe upon the individual, the rights and freedoms of citizens.
Representatives of the religious community disagree with the prosecutor’s application. They claim that the organization’s literature is theological by nature and that criticism of other confessions is in itself common to interreligious controversies. The organization’s practices, on the other hand, promote the preservation of the family and the improving of oneself. The literature and publications of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” do not infringe upon the rights and freedoms of citizens nor do they cause family break-ups. Members of this organization do not refuse medical care, they simply choose one of the safer methods of treatment, which constitutes a patient’s right.
In the defendant’s opinion, the prosecutor’s suggested evaluation of the literature’s contents is, in effect, an evaluation of the organization’s beliefs, which cannot be recognized as legitimate.
The representative of the Moscow Department of Justice supported the prosecutor’s demands and agreed with her position.
As a basis for her arguments, the prosecutor referred to the following documents: the expert conclusion compiled during the examination of the criminal case by F.G. Ovsienko, professor of the Department of Religious Studies; the expert conclusion by I.A. Galitskaya, Master of Philosophy, and I.V. Metlik, a specialized psychologist; as well as the composite expert conclusion compiled during the first examination of this case by specialists V.I. Belyanin, professor of the Department of Psycholinguistics, M.M. Gromyko, Doctor of History, D.A. Leontyev, Doctor of Psychology, and S.A. Nebol’sin, Master of Philology.
The defendants disagree with all of the abovementioned expert conclusions. In their opinion, the conclusions of I.A. Galitskaya, F.G. Ovsienko, and M.M. Gromyko contradict those of other specialists who have also conducted research in religious studies.
The arguments of the psychologists, V.I. Belyanin and I.V. Metlik, were contrasted with the results of the medical-psychological research conducted by Professor V.Ye. Kagan, psychiatrist and Doctor of Medical Science.
The defendants are of the opinion that the research conducted by the linguistic and psycholinguistic specialists, V.I. Belyanin and S.A. Nebol’sin, has a methodical defect made evident by the fact that they cannot reproduce their conclusions.
The defendants have also presented data from a sociological study conducted under the direction of Professor A.I. Antonov by the Department of Sociology and Demography of the Family at the Moscow State University (MSU). The researchers established that the members of the organization “Jehovah’s Witnesses” advocate strong families as a primary trend of their value orientation.
Both parties deem their case proven and neither motioned to appoint an expert panel.
The court, having heard the submissions of both parties, the testimonies of their witnesses, and having reviewed the documents presented, deems that questions have been raised during this case requiring specialized knowledge for their resolution.
Thus, only specialists in the corresponding fields of knowledge can evaluate the semantic orientation of the literature of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and the propagandistic methods used by them, and analyse their specialized linguistic methods.
The court does not deem admissible the use of the already-existing conclusions in view of their contradictory nature and because they, in a number of cases, were obtained without due process of law.
The parties' viewpoints regarding the perception of the literature and the practices of “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” are essentially opposed to each other. There was no research data presented among the evidence nor any psychological evaluation of these phenomena from unbiased citizens. And yet, the court considers the answers to these questions necessary in order to evaluate the evidence.
Considering the fact that the answers to these questions can be provided only by individuals possessing specialized knowledge, the court deems necessary the appointment of an expert panel and the conducting of expert studies for this case.
Based on the range of questions for a literary analysis, they may be entrusted to philologists and specialists in the sphere of psycholinguistics with an appointment to conduct a composite philolpsycholinguistic expert study.
The use of knowledge in sociopsychology by means of a corresponding composite expert study will enable the experts to evaluate the influence that the publications of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” have on Moscow residents in the sphere of the organization-defendant’s activity.
Having discussed the candidates suggested by the parties for the expert panel and considering the nature of the appointed expert studies, the court appoints specialists from the Department of Psycholinguistics of the Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS) of the Russian Federation (RF) to conduct a philolpsycholinguistic expert study. Leonid Yuryevitch Ivanov, Master of Philology and senior scholar of the Vinogradov Institute of the Russian Language, will also be assigned to the expert panel.
The court deems it proper to appoint Vera Alexandrovna Kol'tsova to conduct a sociopsychological expert study, along with the Centre of Sociology and Education of the Russian Academy of Education. The court considers the defendant’s objections to V.A. Kol'tsova’s nomination unproven, and therefore cannot take them into consideration.
Both the prosecutor and defendant presented six questions from each party for examination by the specialists.
Questions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 presented by the defence cannot be submitted to the selected specialists due to their specialized field of knowledge and the nature of the appointed research.
Question 5 presented by the defence does not correspond to the chosen research subject, nor does it relate to the prosecutor’s viewpoint or claims.
Considering the nature of both the expert studies and the required range of evidence of the legally relevant circumstances, the court deems it admissible to use questions 2, 3, 4, and 5 presented by the prosecutor, while adding an additional question.
For the expert study, the court considers it necessary to provide the publications of the organization of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” among the papers of this case, as well as the papers of the civil and criminal cases.
Considering that the literature presented by the prosecutor contains underlining and notes, meaning, an actual selection of evidence, the court considers it necessary for the expert panel to receive not only this literature, but also the original literature presented by “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” without any notes.
The court deems unnecessary the defendants' suggestion to conduct a comparative expert analysis between the literature of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and the literature of other confessions.
Since the expert study has been appointed by the court without any motions for its appointment, the preliminary payment for such an expert study, when such a need arises, must be laid upon both sides equally.
Considering that an expert study will require a significant amount of time, the case proceedings are subject to suspension.
Being guided by Articles 74, 88, 215-5 of the Civil Procedural Code of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, the court,
To appoint a composite philolpsycholinguistic expert study and a composite sociopsychological expert study.
To appoint specialists from the Department of Psycholinguistics of the Institute of Psychology of the RF RAS to conduct a philolpsycholinguistic expert study. Leonid Yuryevitch Ivanov, Master of Philology and senior scholar of the Vinogradov Institute of the Russian Language, will also be assigned to the commission. To put the following questions to the experts for resolution:
- What is the semantic orientation of the texts and of the propagandistic techniques used in the printed publications of the literature of “Jehovah’s Witnesses”?
- Do the verbal (graphic) means used in the material express degrading characteristics, negative emotional appraisals, or negative precepts regarding other religious associations or individuals as their representatives?
- Does this material contain information inciting action against other religious organizations or other individuals as their representatives?
- Does this material use special linguistic or other means (and specify which) to directly transmit insulting characteristics, negative emotional appraisals, negative precepts, or inducements to take action regarding other religious associations or individuals as their representatives?
To appoint V.L. Kol'tsova, Doctor of Psychology and professor at the Institute of Psychology of the RF RAS, along with the Centre of Sociology and Education of the Russian Academy of Education, to conduct a composite sociopsychological expert study.
While conducting the sociological research, to use the principles of sampling and the groups of population (without taking into consideration their religious preferences), similar to the socio-demographic characteristics of the Moscow Community “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” received by the Department of Sociology and Demography of the Moscow State University, under the direction of Professor A.I. Antonov.
To place the following questions before the experts for resolution:
- What is the semantic orientation of the wording and the propagandistic methods used in the printed material of “Jehovah’s Witnesses”?
- Are the words or the graphic descriptions used in this printed material degrading; do they express negative emotional opinions, or negative intentions directed against other religious associations or individuals, such as their representatives?
- What attitude do surrounding citizens have toward the religious practice and preaching methods of “Jehovah’s Witnesses”?
The expert panel is to be provided with the following:
- Documents of this civil case.
- Documents of criminal case No. 217885.
- The literature and publications of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” attached to the civil case papers.
- The opportunity to conduct a sociological study among residents of the city of Moscow.
To warn the appointed expert panel about their criminal responsibility outlined in Article 307 of the Criminal Code of the RF.
To obligate the religious community of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” to provide the expert panel, by means of the court, with copies of the letters to the bodies of elders and the organization’s publication entitled Our Kingdom Ministry, filed by the prosecutor.
To charge each party an equal amount, should the need arise for a preliminary payment for the appointed expert studies or for part of the conducted research.
To suspend the case proceedings until the conclusions of the expert studies are received.
This ruling may be appealed and protested to the Moscow City Court within 10 days.