Court to decide on future of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Moscow office

Interfax (Russia), Feb. 11, 2003

MOSCOW. Feb 11 (Interfax) – Moscow’s Golovinsky District Court on Tuesday resumed proceedings in the case on closing the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Moscow office.

A lawsuit asking that the religious organization’s office be liquidated was filed by the prosecutor’s office of Moscow’s Northern Administrative District.

Galina Krylova, lawyer for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, told Interfax that the court granted her petition and ordered the prosecutor’s office to bringing its liquidation request into line with the new Civil Procedure Code, which took effect on February 1, 2003.

Among other issues, the prosecutor’s office has to make it clear who’s interests it defends. “According to the new Civil Procedure Code, the prosecutor’s office has to point out whose interests were violated by the office’s activities. If they are certain citizens or the Christian Church, the prosecutor has to specify why they themselves have not gone to court,” Krylova said.

The court has announced a break until Thursday, February 13.

The court proceedings for the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ case began in September 1998, after the Moscow Northern District’s prosecutor’s office accused the organization of inciting religious dissent, breaking up families and forcing seriously sick people to reject medical assistance for religious reasons.

In 2001, the Golovinsky District Court rejected the prosecutor office’s closure request. This ruling was later overturned by the Moscow City Court and the case was sent for further consideration.

In the spring of 2002, a second trial’s ruling to hold an examination of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ literature was also cancelled by the Moscow City Court. The case was returned to court.

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