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    US Calls on Russia to Lift Ban on Jehovah's Witnesses - State Department

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    The United States is deeply troubled by Russia's Supreme Court ruling to ban the religious group Jehovah’s Witnesses and calls on Moscow to revoke the decision, the Department of State spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement via Twitter on Friday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Thursday, Russia's Supreme Court ruled that the activities of the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia were extremist and banned them. Judge Yury Ivanenko said the court also ruled to seize the center's property.

    "[The] US is extremely concerned by Russia’s targeting, repressing religious minorities, including Jehovah’s Witnesses," Toner tweeted. "We call on the Russian authorities to lift their ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activities in Russia."

    The State Department added the Russian authorities must make sure that anti-terrorism laws do not suppress peaceful religious minorities in the country.

    Earlier, the Russian Ministry of Justice applied for an order to shut down the organization's national headquarters near St. Petersburg.

    The judicial ruling has not yet taken legal effect. Should the organization lodge an appeal, the ruling will come into legal force when the appellate resolution is announced. Otherwise, the ruling will become final within 30 days.

    In March, the activities of the Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia – the largest Jehovah's Witnesses group in the country, with some 175,000 adherents, were suspended by the authorities.

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    Jehovah's Witnesses, Mark Toner, Russia, United States
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