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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Pressed Over Jehovah's Witnesses

A leading human rights organization has appealed to President Vladimir Putin over a court's decision to ban the activities of Jehovah's Witnesses in Moscow, calling it a serious failure of the judicial system that could increase harassment of believers, Mosnews.com reported.

The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights urged Putin in an open letter to meet his "international obligations" and set the record straight by addressing the issue publicly.

The ban came into force on June 16, when the Moscow City Court upheld a district court decision prohibiting Jehovah's Witnesses from engaging in religious activity under a provision that allows courts to ban religious groups that are considered to incite hatred or intolerant behavior.

Jehovah's Witnesses spokesman Christian Presber said at the time that the ruling would prevent the group from renting premises for worship, holding bank accounts, or otherwise supporting their religious activities.

There are about 10,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in Moscow and 133,000 nationwide, according to the group.

(MT, AP)