“We do not have the right to assess the court’s ruling in one way or another. But we think that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine and the organization’s actual work provide a legal reason for banning its activities,” Moscow Patriarchy spokesman Mikhail Dudko told Interfax on Tuesday.
“Under Russian legislation, any religious activities should not damage people’s health and security,” he said.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine bans blood transfusion, “which can lead to the death of the sect’s followers, including children, decisions for whom are made by their parents who consider themselves to be Jehovah’s Witnesses followers,” he said.
Head of the Central Spiritual Directorate of Russian Muslims Talgat Tadzhuddin also welcomed the closure of the Jehovah’s Witnesses office in Moscow, calling it “a milestone and positive event.”
“The court demonstrated the actual efficiency of Russian legislation. The people of Russia have already suffered enough. They are fed up with ideologies alien to Russian beliefs,” he said.
Russian Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar said that the law must be observed, but expressed some reservations about the decision. “Laws must be observed, whether one likes it or not,” Lazar told Interfax, adding that he “cannot help but be concerned over the closure of a religious organization.”
“There are serious complaints to the way Jehovah’s Witnesses followers are operating in Russia. For instance, it is unacceptable that the religion’s followers make children break up their relationship with their parents if they are not members of the organization. This is a direct violation of the Ten Commandments, one of which says: honor your father and mother,” the chief rabbi said.
“The organization’s requirement that people should refuse medical assistance if it involves blood transfusion is unacceptable as well,” he said.