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Russia Supreme Court bans Jehovah’s Witnesses

Russia’s Supreme Court has ruled to recognize Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist organization and liquidate it.

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MOSCOW, April 20. /TASS/Russia’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Jehovah’s Witnesses was an “extremist” organisation and must hand over all its property to the state, Russian news agencies reported.

Interfax news agency quoted Sergei Cherepanov, a Jehovah’s Witnesses representative, as saying that the group will appeal the decision in the European Court of Human Rights.

“We will do everything possible,” he said.

Russian authorities have put several of the group’s publications on a list of banned extremist literature and prosecutors have long cast it as an organisation that destroys families, fosters hatred and threatens lives.

The group, a United States-based nonsectarian Christian denomination known for its door-to-door preaching and rejection of military service and blood transfusions, says this description is false.

The religious organisation has expanded around the world and has about eight million active followers. It has faced court proceedings in several countries, mostly over its pacifism and rejection of blood transfusions, but has Russia has been most outspoken in portraying it as an extremist cult.

Its Russian branch, based near St Petersburg, has regularly rejected this allegation. It has said a ban would directly affect around 400 of its groups and have an impact on all of its 2,277 religious groups in Russia, where it says it has 175,000 followers.

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Russian presidential election slated for March 18

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Moscow, Dec 15: The Russian Federation Council, or the upper house of parliament, on Friday officially set the country’s presidential election for March 18, 2018.

A resolution to set the date will effectively give a start to the election campaign, chairman of the Federation Council’s Constitutional Legislation Committee Andrei Klishas said in a statement.

President Vladimir Putin, who has declared his intention to participate in the race as an independent candidate, is widely expected to win his fourth term, reports Xinhua news agency.

The latest public opinion poll by government-owned research centre VTSIOM showed that Putin’s approval rating stood at 53.5 per cent as of December 10, up from 53 per cent a week earlier, leaving all possible rivals far behind.

To be registered as an independent presidential candidate, a candidate has to collect at least 300,000 voters’ signatures on his or her behalf by February 1, 2018.

If a candidate wishes to run within the framework of a political party, this party will have to collect no less than 100,000 signatures on the candidate’s behalf.

The election was previously planned for March 11, but later it was postponed to March 18, when the country will celebrate the Day of Incorporation of Crimea.

The peninsula joined Russia in 2014 following a local referendum, which Western countries did not recognise as legitimate.

The law declaring March 18 a national holiday was adopted in 2015.

IANS

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North Korea tensions can be settled by diplomatic means only – Lavrov

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Sergey Lavrov

The tensions on the Korean Peninsula can only be settled through political and diplomatic means in accordance with the Russian-Chinese roadmap, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

He made the statement after the 15th RIC (Russia, India and China) ministerial meeting in New Delhi, TASS reported. “We shared our opinions regarding the situation on the Korean Peninsula, which remains extremely tense,” Lavrov noted.

“We pointed to the absence of an alternative to the solution of the specified problem solely by political and diplomatic means in line with the Russian-Chinese roadmap.”

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‘The murder of our national sport’: Russian athletes forced to compete under neutral flag

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Russian athletes are bitterly disappointment by the collective punishment and the option offered by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which banned the Russian national team, while allowing only individual athletes to compete under a neutral flag and anthem.

Related Story : IOC bans Russia from 2018 Winter Olympics

On Tuesday, the IOC declared Russia guilty of alleged state-sponsored doping, and banned the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) from competing in the upcoming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Athletes who can prove they are “clean,” however, will be allowed to compete, but not under the Russian flag.

The despair and bitter disappointment were clearly visible on the faces of Russian Olympic athletes in Davos Tuesday as the IOC announced their decision. Some stared down and others left the room soon after the directives were read out.

Those who can compete are now faced with a difficult choice. On the one hand, they spent years polishing their skills to perform on the world’s premier stage, but on the other hand, their sport spirit dictates they compete as a united national team, under the Russian flag.

Irina Avvakumova, a member of the ski jumping team, does not want to go to South Korea and perform under a neutral flag. “I do not know how other athletes will react, but I did not prepare for so many years to just go and compete without representing my country,” Avvakumova said, adding, that competing as neutral lack the “sports spirit.”

Russian snowboarder Nikolai Olyunin has not yet decided whether or not he is ready to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games under a neutral flag.

“The decision of the IOC did not shock me, it was all leading to this. We were ready,” Olyunin said, adding, that the snowboard federation will now wait and see how the situation develops further. “No one understands how to proceed further. I would like to compete for our flag, but at the same time, I understand that what has happened is a great disrespect to our country. I don’t want to compete under a neutral flag, but I still have to think about it.”

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