On day 2, the Russian Presiding Judge became surprisingly active, Mark Sanderson of the Governing Body said. He questioned closely the Ministry of Justice on just what might happen if Russian Witnesses were to continue reading their extremist publications. Virtually everything Jehovah's Witnesses publishes is on the government's list of extremism literature, even the children's book. The Ministry of Justice assured him there could be dire consequences. What of the rights of 175,000 Russian citizens? the judge wanted to know.
It was not the only time he was to do his job. On Day 5, he questioned the Ministry of Justice as to the legal basis for shutting down Jehovah's Witnesses and confiscating their property. The Ministry of Justice declined to identify one. Other times, too, he was quite proactive and often was it observed that he was surprisingly impartial. Russian brothers were not surprised at the outcome. They had never expected to win. We here are are used to judges acting independently of the executive branch. They are not. It doesn't happen there. Nor are the brothers there unaccustomed to dealing with police harassment, which they expect to intensify.
Several said that the judge appeared sad as he granted the Ministry of Justice's petition to ban Jehovah's Witnesses, after reviewing 43 volumes of submitted evidence in a single hour. He knew what he had to do. But possibly he was a man with a conscience.
Possibly he did not want to, even for a single hour, be chief spokesperson for the Devil.
Still, he did a lot. He was very bold. Not many are ready for their 15 minutes of negative fame. Even Peter chickened out. By pointed questions throughout the trial, which the MOJ was totally unprepared for, likely expecting to be unchallenged, he exposed them for not having a leg to stand on. In this he aids future appeals as well as present worldwide review. He did a lot, even if he ultimately declined to throw himself under the bus. Not many persons would.