Appeals to governmental powers do not always fall on deaf ears. The JW archives tell of a slandered Witness in danger of losing her son: “The brothers and sisters in Anna’s congregation composed a letter attesting to her good example as a mother. A brother carried the letter to Moscow and delivered it to then-leader Nikita Khrushchev. Remarkably, Khrushchev ordered an inquiry into the matter. Anna was exonerated, and her son was not taken by the authorities.”
Something similar has happened with Putin. [See prior post.] Today “the rights of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia must be fully restored…..The Russian Supreme Court has taken the first step in this direction, …[ruling that] recognition of a religious organization as extremist does not prohibit its followers from exercising their right to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.” In other words, do you want to arrest them? You first have to establish they have done something illegal. It is not enough that they exist.
(Copy and paste all Russian language articles into https://www.deepl.com/translator for translation.)
Maybe it just became too outrageous. Letters of support for Timothy Zhukov painted Russian “justice” as too much a word belonging in quotes. He had appealed his arrest based upon the constitution that guarantees freedom of worship. For that he was sent to a psychiatric hospital. It prompted these published letters:
“A citizen of the Russian Federation wanted to use the article of the Constitution and this is his right. However, the law enforcement agencies decided to condemn the citizen for this, and even recognize him as mentally ill. Where is the Law? Where is the justice? Night arrest, interrogation - continuous violations of the law. As it recalls the events of the first century: "Then Jesus said to them: as if you went out against a robber with swords and stakes to take Me" (Bible, Gospel of Mark chapter 14 verse 48). I would like to praise Timothy, in such a terrible situation he remains a faithful Christian, he endures everything courageously!” Miroslava, November 11, 2021
“Marvelous! A person shows respect for the highest law of the state, using the 51st article of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, and the investigating authorities themselves see this as a reason to doubt his sanity. It is as if a mirror image of the events of bygone days described in the Bible: “When he defended himself in this way, Festus interrupted him.“ You are out of your mind, Paul, ”he shouted,“ great learning drove you to madness! ”(Acts of the Apostles 26: 24, New Russian translation) …Victor, November 12, 2021.
Zhukov himself is a lawyer—thus, even from the secular perspective, the “great learning” works. He has recently been compensated for his confinement. One thing the Witness organization can be depended upon: They will not allow villainies to be “done in a corner.” (Acts 26:26)
Did continual denunciations, each time highlighting the absurdity and thus painting the country itself as absurd, finally trigger a tipping point? Such as this recent item in the Washington Post?
A few days after the November 2021 Supreme Court reinterpretation, a Witness was acquitted of extremism—the first Witness to be acquitted of that charge.
The ultimate results of the High Court’s decision wait to be seen. “Few believe this is a signal to an end to mass repression against Jehovah's Witnesses,” one source says.
Another speaks of theologian Andrei Kuraev, who is asked to interpret just what the Court’s ruling will mean in practical terms. He is hopeful—guardedly—“that this document of the whole Supreme Court may be evidence of some serious changes in approach.” Kuraev is included in I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why, as is Timothy Zhukov. He is no friend of Jehovah’s Witnsees, but he is a friend of common sense.
He has maintained all along that the original 2017 declaration equating Jehovah’s Witness with extremism is ridiculous. That decision “is far-fetched and very unconscionable. Because the Jehovists are radical in only one respect: they are radical pacifists.” Of the current decision that you can’t just beat up on them if they aren’t doing anything wrong, he agrees. But he knows where he lives. “The Supreme Court's decision is one thing and policy may be something entirely different. I am afraid that in Russia when there is a conflict between a legislative document and the order of an immediate superior, the latter will win." So time will tell.
Kuraev’s forces of common sense are up against some truly bizarre thinking. Graniru.org* reports (November 23, 2021) that the charge of "eschatological extremism," for which prosecutors were seeking a 9 year prison term before the latest Court decision thwarted them, must be upheld “since the end of the world, which these political prisoners [Jehovah’s Witnesses] expect, will result in mass disturbances and violations of Russia's territorial integrity.”
The prosecution’s “independent experts objected in all seriousness: ‘Violent acts committed by Jehovah, who is not a subject of law and cannot, due to his divine nature, be influenced by the texts presented for examination, can in no way be prevented by applying anti-extremist legislation. Moreover, any acts committed by Jehovah, even if they are violent, cannot be unlawful.’"
It recalls to mind a cartoon I once saw of God preparing to hurl a lightning bolt. He is stopped when an angel tugs at his sleeve: “Not America! Think of the lawsuits.”
Seems the angel should have said it of Russia.