Several Russian citizens have sought asylum in Norway due to religious persecution. Norwegian authorities confirm that they have accepted applications from Russian Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“Yes, there have been asylum applications in 2019 from Russian nationals seeking protection for fear of persecution because of their religion, mainly Jehovah’s Witnesses,” UDI communications adviser Oda Gilleberg told Vårt Land.
She says there has been a slight increase in applicants who claim to be Jehovah’s Witnesses from Russia in 2018 and 2019. Last year, nine Russians received protection under the asylum law. Some of these were Jehovah’s Witnesses, the UDI confirms.
About 175,000 people in Russia belong to Jehovah’s Witnesses. The organization was banned by a Supreme Court ruling in 2017. The order stamped Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist organization, and the translation of the Bible, the New World, is considered extreme literature and is forbidden.
The Helsinki Committee points out that members of Jehovah’s Witnesses are being persecuted in Russia and, among other things, restrictions have been placed on owning property.
Last year, 18 Jehovah’s Witnesses were convicted in the country of participating in an extremist organization.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD) states that Norway is concerned about the situation of the religious group.
“Over time, the Foreign Ministry has had close contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses about the situation of their fellow believers in Russia. We are therefore well acquainted with the situation and are concerned about how this group is being treated,” writes State Secretary Marianne Hagen in an email to Vårt Land.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today