"Portal-Credo.Ru": What is your first reaction to today's decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on the liquidation of religious organizations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia?
Anatoly Pchelintsev: In the sphere of state-confessional relations in Russia, a new era is beginning. I have not yet figured out how to call it, but it is quite obvious that other faiths will soon fall under the rink of the state repressive machine. This is the beginning of the beginnings, and neither Russia, nor, especially, believers in Russia, expect anything good. Already, many are turning – in particular, to me – to provide assistance in emigrating from Russia. It is very sad.
As you know, Stalin could not do anything with Jehovah's Witnesses. Maybe Putin will succeed? I do not know…
– Have there been any cases of confiscation of property of religious organizations in the new history of Russia?
– In Soviet times, everything was. And they took away and broke up houses of worship with tractors. It is enough to recall the famous Vashchenko family, which, it seems, lived in the American embassy for many years in the early 70s. They asked for political asylum, but could not physically leave for the United States, because the Soviet secret services controlled every exit from the embassy. And in the city of Nakhodka, where this family was serving, a bulldozer drove up to their wooden prayer house, where the children were at that time, and rocked it.
– Have there been cases of such confiscation in modern Russia?
– Yes, for example, four years ago I defended a Baptist church in Vladivostok when they again tried to take the building away from her. And in Soviet times, their building was taken away, destroyed, and so on, and they continued their ministry on the street. So this technology has been tested, and there is nothing new in it.
– What will be the actions of the authorities and Jehovah's Witnesses after today's decision?
“The landings will begin now, because the denomination is“ liquidated, ”but Jehovah's Witnesses will not abandon the faith. A significant part of them emigrate from Russia, and some will go underground. The rest will be jailed.
Interviewed by Vladimir Oyvin,