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Finland is none too eager to grant asylum to Russia's fleeing Jehovah’s Witnesses
More than 200 Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses have fled to Finland, seeking asylum, since Russia banned their group in April 2017. According to the newspaper Aamulehti, Finnish authorities have only reviewed 10 asylum requests, so far, rejecting most of them. State officials in Finland reportedly deny that Jehovah’s Witnesses face “systematic persecution” in Russia, and the authorities are considering each asylum petition individually.
On August 16, Radio Liberty reported from a refugee camp in Konnunsuo, Finland, where roughly half of the asylum-seeking Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses are currently living. Sources told the news outlet that the Finnish authorities are dragging their feet when it comes to reviewing refugees' applications.
In April 2017, the Russian Supreme Court designated the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Administrative Center as an extremist organization, banning its activities nationwide, after the Russian Justice Ministry accused it of disseminating extremist literature. Officials have also banned Jehovah’s Witnesses’ local organizations. Members of the millenarian Christian denomination have filed complaints about harassment and persecution with Russia’s Human Rights Commission and the European Court of Human Rights.
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