A Russian watchdog agency is contesting a court judgment reversing its ban on distribution of Awake! and The Watchtower magazines published by the Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia.
According to report by the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI), the Russian watchdog organization, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, on April 6, 2010, banned distribution of both magazines and withdrew distribution license issued to the Jehovah's Witnesses by the State Committee for the Press in 1997. The Russian watchdog organization said it took the decision because previous court judgments had said both publications of the Jehovah's Witnesses were "extremist."
The Jehovah's Witnesses contested the order in a Moscow Commercial court. They said the ban on their publications was unlawful because the publications were the major sources of revenue for the organization. Banning the publications violated their rights to pursue their core activities as an organization.
The court overturned the agency's ban on circulation of the publications, saying that the activities of the Jehovah's Witnesses is worldwide and thus not subject to Russian law. The court also held that it was unlawful for the organization to prohibit distribution of all copies and editions of the magazines simply because certain portions of some editions were found to contain "extremist" material.
In September, British police investigated claims of religious hatred stemming from the magazines.
The New York Review of Magazines in 2010, voted The Watchtower magazine the most widely distributed magazine in the world. The review said that nearly 40 million copies of The Watchtower are printed in more than 180 languages in 236 countries with a circulation of 25 million. The Watchtower was placed ahead of AARP The Magazine (24.3 million) and Better Homes and Gardens (7.6 million).