The Supreme Court of South Ossetia has ruled that Jehovah’s Witnesses are an extremist organisation, effectively outlawing them.
Houses of a number of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been searched and religious literature confiscated, according to Jamnews.
General Prosecutor Uruzmag Dzhagayev filed a complaint against the group in July 2017 after ‘receiving reports that extremist literature and extremist ideas were being propagated’ at their meetings, Russian state-run news agency Sputnik Ossetia reported on 11 October.
South Ossetian Justice Minister Zalina Laliyeva said the ruling will enter into force 10 days after it was made, if it is not appealed.
‘I believe that in one way or another, they will gather in secret (underground), but their activities will be monitored by the adequate authorities’, Lalieva said.
Jehovah’s Witnesses were declared an ‘extremist organisation’ in Russia in July 2017, after which the country’s Supreme Court ordered all their property be confiscated. The move was condemned by the US, EU, and international rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
According to the BBC, the group sets their number of followers at roughly 175,000 in Russia.
Ekho Kavkaza reports that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been outlawed in Abkhazia since 1995.
For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.