MOSCOW – Russia’s Supreme Court has upheld the decision of a Russian city to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist group.
The decision Thursday came amid proceedings on a Justice Ministry suit to ban the religious organization in Russia altogether.
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim more than 170,000 adherents in Russia. The group, however, has come under increasing pressure over the past year, including a ban on distributing literature deemed to violate Russia’s anti-extremism laws and an outright ban in the Far East city of Birobidzhan.
In February, Russian investigators inspected the religion’s headquarters in St. Petersburg.
Prior to the ruling, David A. Semonian, a spokesman at its world headquarters in New York, said the group hopes “Russia’s Supreme Court will uphold the rights of our fellow believers in Russia to freely carry out their peaceful worship.”