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Thursday, 19 May 2011

Jehovah's Witness leader charged with extremism in Russia's Volga region

Investigations in the Volga region city of Yoshkar-Ola have charged the head of a local Jehovah's Witness branch with inciting religious hatred, local investigators said on Wednesday.

The coordinator of the city's Jehovah's Witness church, which is estimated to have some 90 followers, is accused of disseminating extremist materials and conducting public sermons on the superiority of the religion over others.

Investigators say a large volume of materials was seized during searches. Experts established that two books and two brochures contain "slogans of an extremist nature."

The Jehovah's Witnesses, which has some 7 million followers worldwide and 300,000 in Russia, are banned in a number of Russian regions and in some former Soviet republics.

The Jehovah's Witnesses branch in Moscow was dissolved by district court ruling in 2004, but the European Court of Human Rights declared the decision illegal last June.

RIA Novosti