Today's ruling against the Jehovah's Witnesses by Russia's Supreme Court effectively bans this peaceful religious community from being able to legally exist. It is an outrageous violation of the fundamental right to freedom of religion, conscience, and belief and more evidence of the deterioration of democracy, human rights, and civil society in Putin's Russia. What began as a ban on distributing literature has now escalated into an all out assault on the right of this community of over 170,000 faithful believers to function at all. There is a significant risk that if this appalling ruling is allowed to take effect, that Jehovah's Witnesses could face criminal prosecution and prison.
The Lantos Foundation urges faith leaders from all communities to stand in solidarity with the Jehovah's Witnesses of Russia and we call upon the Russian government to uphold the religious freedom rights of all people.