Russia’s Supreme Court bans Jehovah’s Witnesses

Members of Jehovah's Witnesses wait in a court room in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, April 20, 2017. Russia's Supreme Court has banned the Jehovah's Witnesses from operating in the country, accepting a request from the justice ministry that the religious organisation be considered an extremist group, ordering closure of the group's Russia headquarters and its 395 local chapters, as well as the seizure of its property. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia’s Supreme Court has banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses from operating in the country, accepting a request from the justice ministry that the religious organization be considered an extremist group.

Russia’s Supreme Court judge Yuri Ivanenko reads the decision in a court room in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, April 20, 2017. Russia’s Supreme Court has banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses from operating in the country, accepting a request from the justice ministry that the religious organisation be considered an extremist group, ordering closure of the group’s Russia headquarters and its 395 local chapters, as well as the seizure of its property. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

The court ordered the closure of the group’s Russia headquarters and its 395 local chapters, as well as the seizure of its property.

The Interfax news agency on Thursday quoted Justice Ministry attorney Svetlana Borisova in court as saying that the Jehovah’s Witnesses “pose a threat to the rights of the citizens, public order and public security.”

The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim more than 170,000 adherents in Russia. The group has come under increasing pressure over the past year, including a ban on distributing literature deemed to violate Russia’s anti-extremism laws.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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