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Jehovah's Witnesses Banned in Russian Belgorod for 'Tearing Apart Families'

The Supreme Court in Russia's southern city of Belgorod has ruled for a local Jehovah's Witnesses group to be disbanded as an “extremist” organization, the RAPSI legal news agency reported Thursday.

Prosecutors told the court that the religious organization “tore” apart families and tried to entice young people into the group.

The Supreme Court heard the case after a similar decision by the Belgorod regional court was appealed.

The Belgorod branch is not the only Jehovah's Witness group banned in Russia. A Jehovah's Witness congregation was denounced as extremist in the town of Stary Oskol in the Belgorod region earlier this year. Another group was banned in Obninsk in 2015.

A Moscow court banned the group from operating in the capital in 2004. The ruling was declared unlawful by the European Court of Human Rights in 2010, who granted compensation of 70,000 euro ($80,000).

The Jehovah's Witnesses are a Christian religious group with roughly 8.2 million members worldwide. Their faith differs notably from mainstream Christianity in several ways, with many members believing that armageddon is imminent.

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