he U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) denounces the Russian Supreme Court ruling on Monday rejecting an appeal by the Jehovah’s Witnesses against an April decision declaring them as extremist. USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark commented that “The Supreme Court’s decision sadly reflects the government’s continued equating of peaceful religious freedom practice to extremism. The Witnesses are not an extremist group, and should be able to practice their faith openly and freely and without government repression.”
This ruling clears the way for the Russian government to seize the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ assets and property throughout the country. In recent years, the Witnesses have been subject to government-sanctioned harassment, have had their legal existence banned, and now will lose their physical presence as their meeting halls, known as Kingdom Halls, become the property of a government that violates the rights of religious groups as a matter of law.