A new poll shows that a majority of Russians support banning the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a finding that further overshadows the religious denomination ahead of an important appeals hearing.
The survey by the respected Levada Center was released on July 13, four days before the Supreme Court will consider an appeal of an earlier ruling that had effectively banned the group entirely.
The center found that 51 percent of 1,600 Russians surveyed decisively supported banning the group, while 28 percent gave qualified support for such a ban. A total of 12 percent said they opposed such a ban.
The Supreme Court on April 20 agreed with a Justice Ministry decision that labeled the denomination an extremist organization, a finding that effectively bans them from Russia.
The organization appealed the decision, and the court will hear arguments in the appeal on July 17.
The group, which says it has around 170,000 adherents in Russia, was founded in the 19th century in the United States and is known for, among other things, shunning military service, voting, and government authority in general.
The Levada poll was conducted on June 23-26 through in-person interviews of adults over 18 years of age. Levada said its margin of error is 3.4 percentage points.