Breakaway South Ossetia is jumping on board with a Russian crackdown against Jehovah’s Witnesses as an “extremist” organization, with one separatist official suggesting that followers of the US-based religious community act in Tbilisi’s interests.
The October 11 decision by South Ossetia’s de facto Supreme Court to outlaw the group, a self-described Christian organization headquartered in Wallkill, New York, follows roughly three months after Russia’s own ban against Jehovah’s Witnesses came into force.
In explaining their ban, Russian officials, always wary of foreign influences ahead of a presidential election, have focused largely on the group’s rejection of blood transfusions, which Moscow presents as a public-health threat.
The official grounds for South Ossetia’s ban appear to hover around the supposed presence of “extremist” pamphlets at the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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