A court in the town of Gorno-Altaisk is continuing hearings in a trial against Alexander Kalistratov, local leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Kalistratov is charged with disseminating banned literature which the Supreme Court of the Altay Republic (Russia) says incited religious enmity and hatred between the latter part of 2008 and 2009.
Jehovah’s Witnesses headed by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, with headquarters in New York, has a little more than 200,000 members of the religious sect throughout Russia. Much of their literature has been banned because the government considers it to be extremist.
According to a press release by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, “Kalistratov was accused of violating Article 282(1) of the Russian Federation Criminal Code (‘Inciting Hatred or Hostility, and the Debasing of Human Dignity’).”
Jehovah’s Witnesses “Declaration of Facts”
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been imprisoned for similar charges in other countries. Some reviewers of their literature say it is not uncommon for the Witness publications to contain commentary which may be deemed by particular governments and ethnic groups as inciting extremism and hatred. One example sent to Westmoreland Times is the 1934 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses which contains a “Declaration of Facts” with such wording as: “It has been the commercial Jews of the British-American empire that have built up and carried on Big Business as a means of exploiting and oppressing the peoples of many nations.” (Awake magazine, July 8, 1998, pages 13-14, a quote from the Watchtower Society’s 1933 declaration.) The declaration can also be read in the 1974 Yearbook.
The same magazine says: “German Witnesses were disappointed that the language of the ‘Declaration’ was not more explicit in tone.” You can view the pages here: page 13, page 14. An English translation of the entire “Declaration of Facts” can be viewed here.
Some have pointed out that the language in the Watchtower’s declaration appears to side with Germany’s government at the time of Hitler. Example: “Instead of being against the principles advocated by the government of Germany, we stand squarely for such principles.”
Additional information from the 1934 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses can be read here.
Divisions Among Jehovah’s Witnesses
The Jehovah’s Witness group has suffered several splits from many who no longer agree with the religious headquarters’ views on a variety of topics. In its early history, it has been estimated that around 75 percent of the membership left the organization. In Romania alone, between 30 and 300-thousand individuals formed the “Association of True Faith Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
In the United States, the Kingdom Witness Theocratic Bible Institute located in Pittsburgh was established, the Christian Witnesses of Jah, and others have formed due to doctrinal differences or major changes in official doctrinal statements by the Watchtower Society.
Watch Tower puts new “spin” on its 1933 anti-Jewish remarks
1995 Project JW – Nazi Germany Connections
Cover-Ups in Watchtower History – Hidden Facts about Jehovah’s Witnesses
Jehovah’s Witness Recovery
Jehovah’s Witness Discussion Forum for Jehovah’s Witnesses