Photo: Oleg Mikhaylov /

Criminal trial

Russia asked the ECHR for additional time to prepare a response to the case of Jehovah's Witnesses

Moscow,   France

On September 17, 2018, Deputy Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation Mikhail Galperin asked the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to grant Russia an additional 3-month grace period to prepare comments on the claims for compensation in complaints No. 10188/17 "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and Kalin v. Russian Federation" and No. 3215/18 "LRO Glazova and Others v. Russian Federation". The court granted a reprieve until December 7, 2018.

The total amount of compensation claims for these complaints exceeds 6 billion rubles (79,215,679 euros). The complaints were filed in connection with the decision of the Supreme Court of Russia to liquidate and ban the activities of all registered organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as to turn all their property, primarily all worship buildings, into state revenue.

In their application for compensation, the believers emphasize that the main requirement for the Russian Federation is the return of confiscated real estate throughout Russia.

The ECHR declared complaints No. 10188/17 and No. 3215/18 admissible and said that it would consider them as a matter of priority. In March 2018, the Russian government sent its comments to the Strasbourg Court on the merits of complaint No. 10188/17 "Administrative Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia and Kalin v. Russian Federation", stressing that the decision of the Supreme Court and the appellate ruling by which it was upheld "do not assess the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, do not contain a restriction or prohibition to practice the above teaching individually" (par. 91). However, less than a month after this statement, mass searches and arrests of believers began in Russia, which is of the greatest concern as a direct consequence of the decision of the Supreme Court.

Mikhail Galperin justified the delay in preparing comments on compensation claims by the large number of applicants and the large amount of documentation, as well as the need to verify the stated claims, which implies a request for real estate data from various Russian authorities throughout the country.