20:21 GMT +317 August 2017
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    Members of Jehovah's Witnesses wait in a court room in Moscow, Russia

    OSCE Concerned Over Ban of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia

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    Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Michael Georg Link urged the Russian authorities to ensure that the rights to freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association of individuals belonging to the Jehovah’s Witnesses community are upheld.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Michael Georg Link expressed concern on Tuesday over the Russian Supreme Court's decision to ban the Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist organization.

    "I’m deeply concerned by this unwarranted criminalization of the peaceful activities of members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses communities in Russia, eliminating this community as a viable entity in the country. This Supreme Court decision poses a threat to the values and principles that democratic, free, open, pluralistic and tolerant societies rest upon," Link said, as quoted in the ODIHR statement.

    He urged the Russian authorities to ensure that the rights to freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association of individuals belonging to the Jehovah’s Witnesses community are upheld.

    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.

    Related:

    US Calls on Russia to Lift Ban on Jehovah's Witnesses - State Department
    UK Expresses Concern Over Russian Court's Decision to Ban Jehovah's Witnesses
    Russia's Supreme Court Deems Jehovah Witnesses Extremist, Bans Organization
    Enough is Enough! Jehovah’s Witnesses Face Ban in Russia
    Tags:
    Jehovah's Witnesses, ODIHR, OSCE, Georg Link, Russia
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