Jan 18, 2016

Jehovah's Witnesses file lawsuit against Vyborg customs that seized their holy books at border

January 18, 2016

St. Petersburg, January 18, Interfax - The 'Administrative Center for Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia has filed a lawsuit with the St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region Arbitration Court against Russia's Vyborg Customs that had blocked a number of holy books from entering the country, the religious organization's press service told.

"The books were acquired abroad and presented as a gift to Russian fellow worshippers by the religious community of German Jehovah's Witnesses. The books were refused entrance on the grounds of failure to present 'any documents to certify observation of the restrictions' set forth by the Federal Law 'On Counteracting Extremist Activity'," the press service said.

The books were seized at the border back on November 27, 2015.

According to Jehovah's Witnesses, Russian customs did not allow entry into the country with regard to a consignment of Holy Bible copies in an official Russian translation made by the Russian Orthodox Church (the 'Synodal edition'), as well as the 'Study Bible' published by the Russian Bible Society.

"The actions of Customs cause all the more confusion, considering the fact that back in November the Russian president signed a bill to protect holy books, including the Bible, from the effect of the anti-extremist laws," the press service added.

Interfax currently has no commentary available from Customs.

It was reported back in March 2015 that Russia's Northwestern Transport Prosecutors seized over one million brochures brought into Russia for the 'Administrative Center for Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia'. Experts identified some "indicators of containing arguments or justification for citizens' refusal to perform their civic duties, encouragement of non-friendly treatment of people worshipping other religions" in the brochures and then the consignment was arrested.


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