Provincial court rules in Jehovah’s Witness’ favor

Implementation of decision to prosecute 64-year-old Jehovah’s Witness widow cancelled (08.11.2011) – A Tver provincial court, on review, quashed the implementation of a decision to prosecute Liubova Belimovaia, who is a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization, on the basis of article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Procedure of RF (« mass distribution of extremist materials »), the official site of « Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia » reports.

We recall that in October 2010 a senior assistant prosecutor of the Transvolga district of the city of Tver, Yurii Orlov, appeared at the home of 71-year-old Valentina Fomushkinaia and without her consent confiscated all the religious literature that was in her home-471 titles of brochures, magazines, and books, including a Bible. The woman, who because of the state of her health is unable to leave the house, was deprived of her only possibility of access to religious texts. The prosecutor presented the confiscated literature as material evidence in a case against another retiree, Liubova Belimovaia. He indicated that she « distributed » all of this literature to Fomushkinaia over the course of several months. Municipal judge Natalia Karichkina ordered the imposition of a fine of 1000 rubles on Belimovaia and the destruction of the confiscated religious literature, including the Bible.

This decision was appealed, but with little success: the district court merely shortened the list of literature subject to destruction while leaving the punishment in the form of a fine in force. Information about this decision was published in news media. However on 18 October the chairman of the provincial court issued a decision of rehabilitation. Explaining that what appears as « mass distribution » really was not, he ordered « to stop the proceedings because there was no essence of an administrative violation of law in the actions of Liubova Panteleimonovna Belimovaia. »  (tr. by PDS, posted 11 November 2011)

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CAP Liberté de Conscience, a French NGO created in 2000 dedicated to the respect of the Right of Freedom of Religion and Belief. CAP LC is expert since now 20 years, in religious minorities’ discriminations in France and Europe. CAP Liberté de Conscience organizes events, conferences, meetings to unite minority religions to counter discrimination mainly in France but also in Europe and worldwide.

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