“We think that the Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine and the organisation’s activities provide a legal reason for banning it,” Moscow Patriarchate spokesman Mikhail Dudko was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
“Under Russian legislation, any religious activities should not damage people’s health and security,” he said.
Moscow’s Golovinsky Court upheld Russian prosecutors’ demand on Saturday for the religious organisation to be shut down in Moscow on the grounds the group harms its members’ life and health.
The ruling comes after a year long case that has been pursued by Russian prosecutors since late 1998. The Jehovah’s Witnesses said they would appeal the Moscow court decision.
The Moscow branch has been accused of “breaking up families, inciting its members to suicide and harming their life and health” by not allowing its members to have blood transfusions.
The group says its members number 133,000 in Russia, including 11,000 in Moscow.
The United States condemned the ruling as a threat to religious freedom.
“We urge local authorities and the Russian government to honour their commitments to respect the right of all faiths to religious freedom,” US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
We appreciate your support
One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at Amazon.com.
Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission — at no additional cost to you — for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this service free of charge.