Lawyer Artur Leontyev, who represents the community, told Interfax that the court questioned two experts during proceedings on Tuesday: social psychologist Leonid Kulikov, who was invited by the prosecutor, and Center for Religion Studies head Nikolai Shaburov, who spoke for the defense.
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“Kulikov told the court that he has met with families whose members entered the Jehovah’s Witnesses community. However, he admitted that he himself had never attended the Witnesses’ meetings,” Leontyev said.
The expert engaged by the defense said the accusations against the Jehovah’s Witnesses could well be brought against any other religion.
“It is expected that Shaburov’s questioning will be continued at the next court session,” Leontyev said.
The proceedings against the Moscow community of the Jehovah’s Witnesses was opened in September 1998. Prosecutors who investigated the sect’s activities concluded that it fueled religious discord, ruined families, and inclined seriously ill people to refuse medical aid for religious reasons.
The Golovinsky Court, however, ruled in favor of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2001.
The Moscow City Court, in response to a request from prosecutors, invalidated the ruling and ordered that the case be reconsidered.
The new proceedings opened in spring 2002, during which the court ordered that literature published by Jehovah’s Witnesses undergo expert examination.
However, the Moscow City Court invalidated this decision as well, and again returned the case to the Golovinsky Court, which then ordered a philological and psycholinguistic expert examination. The hearings were resumed after the examination was completed.