Russia’s Supreme Court banned Jehovah’s Witnesses on Thursday, calling the Christian sect an extremist group. The Justice Ministry had asked the top court to outlaw the group on March 17, and had warned the group to end all its activity at its headquarters in St Petersburg. There are around 1,75,000 of the group’s followers in Russia, according to The Moscow Times.
The Supreme Court has ordered the group’s Russia headquarters and its 395 local chapters to be closed, and has also approved the state’s seizure of their property. The order makes it illegal for the group to hold meetings or distribute any information about themselves, or any published and printed material. The group has said it will appeal the decision.
The group has faced increasing pressure against it in Russia in the past year. The country had banned them from distributing any literature as it was considered to break the country’s anti-extremist laws.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in a distinct version of Christianity with its own interpretation of the Bible.
Other groups banned in the country are militant organisations al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.