Voices from Russia

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Russia’s Supreme Court Deems Jehovah Witnesses Extremist, Bans Organisation


On Thursday, Russia’s Supreme Court ruled the activities of the main centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia to be extremist, banning its work, and seizing their property. Judge Yuri Ivanenko ruled:

The Supreme Court ruled to sustain the claim of the Ministry of Justice (Minyust) and deem the “Administrative Centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia” organisation extremist, eliminate it, and ban its activity in Russia.

Earlier, the Minyust applied for an order to shut down the JW’s national headquarters near St Petersburg. Judge Ivanenko said:

The state will confiscate the property of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” organisation.

Following the ruling, JW representatives said that the group would appeal the court’s decision, stressing that they’re prepared to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights. The judicial ruling hasn’t yet taken legal effect. Should the JWs lodge an appeal, the ruling would come into legal force at the announcement of the appellate resolution. Otherwise, the ruling would become final within 30 days.

In March, the authorities suspended the activities of the Administrative Centre of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia… the largest Jehovah’s Witnesses group in the country, with some 175,000 adherents. According to the Minyust, the suspension came because the group conducted “extremist activity”.

20 April 2017

Sputnik International



Russia Passes Law Banning Bizarre Baby Names


On Friday, the Gosduma (lower house of the Federal Assembly) passed a bill that bans parents from officially giving their babies names that are foul words, numbers, titles, or abbreviations. Pavel Krasheninnikov, the head of the Gosduma Committee for State Construction and Legislation, told us that the law bans figures, abbreviations, numerals, symbols, characters that aren’t letters (except a dash), obscene words and titles or positions as baby names. Nevertheless, the law grants parents an opportunity to give their baby a dual surname at birth. Krasheninnikov said:

Until now, the law allowed a “double-barrelled” surname after marriage, when a couple could combine two surnames in one. The law would grant parents a right to give a dual surname at birth, combining the surnames of mother and father. The previous legislation also failed to oblige people to give their offspring names that didn’t violate the children’s interests or rights. We know about such weird names as Air Traffic Controller, Lancelot, Lexus, Lettuce, or BOChrVF260602 (which translates to “biological human object of the Voronin-Frolov family born on 26 June 2002”), Prince, or Tsar. Most children with such names are subject to bullying at kindergartens and schools and usually feel outcasts. Children can’t change their names before the age of 14. The law formalised a child’s right to a normal life, to well-balanced growth, and respect for their individuality and human dignity. As you know, your rights end where my rights begin.

BOChrVF260602, who is already 14, still has no ID papers since the Moscow registration office refused to register such an outlandish name. Subsequently, a court upheld this ban.

21 April 2017



Preliminary Results of French Polls Reveal Defeat of Two Leading Parties


Preliminary results of Sunday’s first round of presidential polls in France indicate a serious defeat for the country’s two leading parties, the ruling Socialist Party and the biggest opposition party, the centre-right Republicans, as their candidates have failed to win enough votes to make it into the runoff. According to initial data, Socialist candidate Benoit Hammon scored as little as 6.3 percent of the vote, whilst Republican François Fillon won 19.9 percent, which wasn’t enough for either one to make it to the second round. Hammon has already spoken to his supporters, calling the preliminary voting results “a serious defeat” for the Socialists. Fillon, too, conceded defeat.

23 April 2017



BREAKING NEWS… Unofficial Poll Shows Le Pen and Macron Heading to French Runoff


Citing an unidentified pollster after Sunday’s first round of voting, Belgian public broadcaster RTBF said that centrist-neoliberal Emmanuel Macron and populist nationalist National Front leader Marine Le Pen should contest the 7 May runoff for the French presidency. Unofficial figures put Macron with 23 percent, Le Pen with 22.5 percent, and right-neoliberal François Fillon third with 20 percent.

23 April 2017

Farah Salih

Alastair Macdonald



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