Court Refuses to Recognize Falun Dafa Practitioners as Extremist Organization
- 09.Aug ‘20
A significant precedent for those who constantly claims that systematic repression of religious minorities takes place in Russia.
On July 30, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Khakassia held a hearing on the recognition of the local branch of Falun Dafa (aka Falun Gong) in Abakan as an extremist organization. The lawsuit was filed by the prosecutor’s office back in March, and in April all interested persons were involved in the process.
The position of the prosecutor’s office was quite straightforward: since 2006, an unregistered Falun Dafa organization has operated in Abakan. In 2011, one of the main books of this movement, ‘Zhuan Falun’, was declared extremist in Russia. And from 2014 to 2019, members of the Abakan branch of Falun Dafa were repeatedly involved in the storage and distribution of this very book. Based on this fact, the prosecutor’s office concluded that local Falun Gong practitioners have been carrying out extremist activities for a long time, therefore, their organization should be declared illegal and then liquidated. At the same time, in its lawsuit, the prosecutor’s office for some reason designated the Abakan Falun Gong followers as “a regional public (why not religious?) association that is not a legal entity”.
The defendants themselves stated that their organization ceased to exist in 2017, which was notified to the Ministry of Justice. Therefore, the distribution of the book ‘Zhuan Falun’ (which was declared extremist) was in charge of specific independent people, not a separate organization.
Then something amazing happened. Instead of applying the practice, which was tested on the Jehovah’s Witnesses (forbidden in Russia), the court sided with the defense and refused to recognize the Abakan Falun Dafa followers as an extremist organization. Which in itself is quite unusual, since the number of acquittals in our country rarely exceeds 2%, and if we are talking about “extremist” cases, then there will not be even a tenth of a percent.
It should be noted that the situation of Falun Gong in Russia is significantly different from other so-called ones. “New religious movements” (Scientologists, Krishnaits or Jehovah’s Witnesses). As we wrote, the attitude of Russians towards the “sectarians” is generally quite negative. The law enforcement agencies are most often very wary of these guys. Nevertheless, only in relation to Falun Dafa is powerful external pressure exerted: for the Chinese authorities, all followers of this belief are the most dangerous terrorists. In addition to the fact that Falun Gong activities are prohibited in the PRC (People’s Republic of China), the Communist Party uses every opportunity to convince its foreign partners of the need to ban Falun Dafa. Therefore, the decision of the Supreme Court of Khakassia is significant not only for the internal policy of Russia, but also for the foreign one, because the Communist Party of China carefully monitors the situation of Falun Gong in the Russian Federation and will not let go of this situation just like that.