ISSN 2330-717X

Moscow Can’t Jail Everyone, Say Jehovah’s Witnesses And Supporters – OpEd


Less than 48 hours after the Russian Supreme Court banned the activities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, Russian officials in various parts of the country have launched “a wave of force” against that religious community, according to Yaroslav Sivulsky, a member of the denomination’s administrative center in Russia.

He told Vladimir Oyvin of the Portal-Credo religious affairs portal that the Jehovah’s Witnesses “will not be able to conduct our major activities” but that members of the group will “continue to meet in private homes, a serious limitation on [religious] freedom” (

In St. Petersburg, Sivulsky said, persons unknow threw stones through the windows of the Jehovah’s Witness Congress Hall; and in Russian-occupied Crimea, police broke into meetings of the group to break up the service and then sealed the building so that the Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t use it now.

As for the Administrative Center of which he is a member, the religious leader continued, “it has in essence ceased its customary activity: its account has been frozen and no one is allowed to come to work in its office. We are obeying the court ruling, and we cannot for the time being do anything else.”

He said that each individual member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses must decide whether to continue their efforts to spread the word of the Bible by visiting the homes of others. And many will do so because “practice shows that no court decisions can stop a Christian from fulfilling the tasks set by Jesus Chris or God.”

Anton Chivchalov, a Russian Jehovah’s Witness, said that the Russian decision to ban his denomination and equate it with the Islamic State as extremist was backfiring on the Kremlin. He described this perhaps unexpected turn of events on his Facebook page (

“If there’s one thing that I’m pleased with in the current situation,” he says, “it’s that more and more people begin actively defending us. More and more experts, lawyers, journalists, even prominent Orthodox figures who never defended us, now do. In social networks common people talk about absurdity of the situation and even draw cartoons emphasizing this.”

“Other denominations write appeals to the President in our support. All this was unthinkable even six months ago,” Chivchalov continues.

“And this means that it won’t be possible to jail everyone,” he says. “With the wave of indignation and support now rising, jailing the first 10 people will simply result in the fact that not almost everyone, but plainly everyone will speak out in our defense. Each prison where a Witness sits will have round-the-clock pickets and processions.”

“How will this affect the Kingdom work? You can think for yourself.”

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

5 thoughts on “Moscow Can’t Jail Everyone, Say Jehovah’s Witnesses And Supporters – OpEd

  • April 23, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Every country has a right to restrict their “loonies” such as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Without restrictions you end up having whaty is going on in the U,.S.

  • April 23, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    The tiger looks for the goat and forget the hunter…

  • April 23, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Sir, you wish all “loonie” groups in the USA were like JWs. They live a productive and decent life, they do not interfere with government or other religion’s movements, not even in non-violent protests. If you are for peace and prosperity for all your citizens, they are the least of your worries, and actually a part of your solution.

  • April 23, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    As a young person I use to feel the same way. But I am 70 now and have been taught to ask questions. Just because one person says something bad doesn’t make it true. I was brought up Catholic, I use to ask so many question. Why don’t we read the Bible? Why do I have to go to confession and tell another human being what I have done wrong? He is no better then me. Look around, keep asking question, don’t stop tell you get the answer. Have you ever talked to a Jehovah’s Witnesses, let them show the answer from the Bible. Prove them wrong. It’s not there word its Gods.

  • April 24, 2017 at 3:26 am

    Witnesses don’t really “picket” or protest. Non-Witnesses might protest, though.


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