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Russia's justice ministry has filed a lawsuit with its supreme court to declare the national headquarters of the country's Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization.
The legal filing is noted on the court's website with no date given for legal action. The group's administrative center in Russia is located about 25 miles northwest of St. Petersburg.
The press office for the Russian branch of the religion says on its website that such a declaration, if successful, would “entail disastrous consequences for freedom of religion in Russia" and directly affect about 175,000 followers at more than 2,000 congregations in the country.
"Extremism is deeply alien to the Bible-based beliefs and morality of Jehovah's Witnesses," the statement said. "Persecution of the faithful for peaceful anti-extremism legislation is built on frank fraud, incompetent individual 'experts' and, as a result, a miscarriage of justice."