Extremism case filed against Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia

MOSCOW (AP) " Russia's Justice Ministry has filed a case with the Supreme Court to declare the administrative center for Russia's Jehovah's Witnesses an extremist organization.

The filing was reported on the court's website, but did not give further details or say when the matter might be heard.

A statement from the religion's Russian branch said a declaration that Jehovah's Witnesses are extremists would "entail disastrous consequences for freedom of religion in Russia." The church estimates it has about 175,000 followers in Russia.

The Jehovah's Witnesses have come under increasing pressure in recent years, including a ban on distributing literature deemed to violate Russia's anti-extremism laws.

In February, investigators conducted an inspection of the religion's headquarters in St. Petersburg.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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