Press release

Minister for Human Rights criticises Russian Supreme Court ruling for labelling Jehovah’s Witnesses as ‘extremist’

FCO Minister Baroness Anelay calls on the Russian government to uphold its international commitments to religious freedom.


On 20 April 2017 Russia’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling that recognises Jehovah’s Witnesses as ‘extremists’. In 2006, the classification of ‘extremist activity’ in Russia was amended, leading to concerns among civil society that its new definition was too broad and overbearing. The Russian government have made commitments to the freedom of religion in international fora, including in the Council of Europe.

Following the ruling, Baroness Anelay said:

I am alarmed by the decision of Russia’s Supreme Court to recognise the Jehovah’s Witnesses as ‘extremists’. This ruling effectively criminalizes the peaceful worship of 175,000 Russian citizens and contravenes the right to religious freedom which is enshrined in the Russian Constitution. The UK calls on the Russian government to uphold its international commitment to this basic freedom.

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Published 21 April 2017