The so-called Expert Council in Luhansk decides the destiny of Jehovah’s Witnesses

17 October 2017, 14:07 | Freedom of Conscience | 1 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

 The Expert Council for Religious Expertise will begin its work in Luhansk, a local newspaper reports citing the so-called Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth in the so called Luhansk People Republic (part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian and pro-Russian militants), according to Hromadske Radio.


In September of this year, the so-called “authority” of the LPR created the Expert Council for Religious Expertise for the purpose of validating the religious organizations. The conclusion of the Expert Council is a ground for the further registration of all religious organizations as legal entities. In addition, heads of religious organizations in the LPR are required to get compulsory consultation and conclusion of a religious examination.


What would this mean for Jehovah's Witnesses who live in an uncontrolled territory of Ukraine and are declared extremists there was explained by Ivan Riger of the Center for Jehovah Service in Ukraine.


“I found a list of the LPR Expert Council’s members. There are no professional religious scholars. Philosophers, theologians, educators and suddenly the military servicemen. So the results of the examinations are foreseeable,” commented Serhiy Afanasyev, a Jehovah's Witness from Lviv, one of the groups of believers in the social network on Facebook.


He notes that Jehovah's Witnesses are trying to be law-abiding citizens and draws attention to the fact that his fellow believers are guided by a biblical principle according to which every person must obey the authorities. In addition, Ivan Riger says that Jehovah's Witnesses are registered in all European countries.


“Our main task as a religious group is to worship God and keep the commandments. But if we need to register for the realization of this right, and we do not hide from the authorities and we are an open faith, then of course we are not against obtaining a state registration,” says Ivan Riger.


However, speaking about the issue of legalization in certain regions of Luhansk region, Ivan Riger has noted that the human right to religious beliefs in the ORLO is not yet respected and even violated.


“We are deeply concerned that people who are law-abiding do not have the right to gather together and impede them. It is difficult to say whether the procedure already announced in the area is intended to really legitimize the existence of religious groups and whether it will help. It seems that at the moment it is premature to make any predictions,” says Ivan Riger.


“Unfortunately, we receive reports that our followers are considered extremists there. Although it is generally known that this statement is not true, because we are talking about people who do not take arms. If this position further exists, the very procedure for filing documents does not necessarily mean a positive outcome. For our part, we are ready to do our best to show that we are law-abiding citizens and not a threat to people.”


A representative of the Center for Jehovah’s Service in Ukraine said that more than 20,000 Jehovah's Witnesses lived on the territory of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions before the beginning of hostilities. After the beginning of the conflict, this number has decreased by about a half and is now about 10 thousand believers in certain regions of Luhansk and Donetsk regions.


Ivan Riger compares the current difficult times with Nazi Germany and persecution of religion during the Soviet Union's existence:


“This is happening not for the first time in history. One can recall the persecution of the Jehovah's Witnesses in the Soviet Union, in Nazi Germany. At that time, Jehovah's Witnesses did not move to other places where there was no persecution.”


Ivan Riger also says that regardless of how the situation will develop in certain regions of Lugansk and Donetsk regions, Jehovah's Witnesses will continue to operate there: “How much they will be there will depend on each person individually, each believer will make his own decision. Regarding the official position of the religious center of Jehovah's Witnesses, we will not organize somehow a special relocation of our faithful to the place where our beliefs are recognized.”


The Jehovah's Witnesses organization has been officially registered in Ukraine since 1991. Its administrative center is located in Lviv. In 2013, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations called on Ukraine to resist the language of hostility that applies to Jehovah's Witnesses and other religious minorities.


As reported, in April of this year, the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses was recognized extremist by the Supreme Court of Russia. It was also decided to liquidate the organization and transfer the property to the state's income.


Earlier, the so-called “Deputy Minister of State Security of the LNR,” Alexander Basov, after sealing several premises of believers in the occupied territories, claimed that the religious organization called Jehovah's Witnesses is suspected of work for the benefit of the SBU and neo-Nazi groupings.

 

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  • velovs@ukr.net | 17 October 2017, 20:35
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    "Раніше так званий «заступник міністра держбезпеки ЛНР» Олександр Басов, після опечатування декількох приміщень віруючих в ОРДЛО, заявляв, що релігійна організація «Свідки Єгови» підозрюється в роботі на СБУ і неонацистські угруповання." М-да... Судячи з усього, отой сумнозвісний московсько-мракобісний - войовничо-параноїдальний маразм наразі дублюється і в цій т. зв. "ЛНР". І навіть, як видається, з іще масштабнішою - хворобливою вигадкою і фантазією...

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