The Court of Appeal legalized the seizure of property in the village of Solnechnoye in St. Petersburg PDF Print E-mail

The complex of real estate worth about 2 billion rubles will be confiscated from the foreign organization "Watchtower Society, Bibles and Treatises of Pennsylvania". On May 3, 2018, the St. Petersburg City Court upheld the decision of the lower court . The decision takes effect immediately.

"The inviolability of private property is considered the basis for confidence in the future," says Yaroslav Sivulsky from the European Association of Jehovah's Witnesses. "And who can feel safe now after such a decision?"

What steps preceded this seizure of property? 1)  Without any convincing reasoning, the courts recognized as "extremist" a number of publications of Jehovah's Witnesses. 2) In 2017, after an epidemic of throws of "extremist" materials into the liturgical building, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation recognized as extremist and liquidated all 396 registered organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. 3) The lower court on the basis of this decision ruled to transfer this property to state ownership, since until 2000 it belonged to one of the liquidated organizations. For this, the court recognized the 17-year-old deal on its transfer to the Watchtower Society void.


It is noteworthy that on April 20, 2016, more than a year before the Justice Ministry's claim to liquidate the Jehovah's Witnesses Management Center, the "Unified State Register of Rights to Immovable Property" (EGRP) appeared an intriguing record relating to this liturgical complex: "A decision was made on seizure of the property for state or municipal needs . Believers Rosreestr explained this record "technical error".

Such a large-scale seizure of property in Russia, which was used for religious purposes, is comparable only with the Decree of the Council of People's Commissars "On the Separation of the Church from the State" of 1918, by which religious organizations were deprived of their property. However, unlike the events of 100 years ago, the buildings of Jehovah's Witnesses were acquired and built without state support, exclusively on voluntary donations and by the believers themselves.

All options for further appeal of this decision, both nationally and internationally, will be considered by the Watchtower Society after reading the full text of the appellate ruling. In addition, the European Court of Human Rights considers the appeal "The Jehovah's Witnesses Management Center in Russia and Kalin against the Russian Federation" as a matter of priority , filed in connection with the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, which, in turn, served as the basis for today's decision.