19:40 GMT08 May 2021
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    The United States calls on Moscow to remove the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses following Russia's Supreme Court ruling upholding the decision to prohibit their activities as extremist, the Department of State said in a press release on Wednesday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — In April, Russia's Supreme Court ruled that the activities of the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia were extremist and banned them, along with the seizure of the center's property. On Monday, the court upheld its previous decision.

    "We urge the Russian authorities to lift the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activities in Russia, to reverse the closing of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Center, and to release any members of religious minorities that continue to be unjustly detained for so-called "extremist" activities," the release stated.

    The Department of State added Moscow must ensure the freedom of religion or belief without any restrictions.

    The OSCE, the US and the UK earlier voiced concern over the Russian court's decision.

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

    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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