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Jehovah's Witnesses banned in Moscow

MOSCOW, March 26 (UPI) -- Jehovah's Witnesses no longer can operate in Moscow under a court ruling which said the group's practices broke up families and encouraged suicide.

The court also said the church threatened its members' health by not allowing blood transfusions, the BBC reported Friday.

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Lawyers for the group condemned the ruling saying it violated democratic rights, and planned an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

"Religious minorities are often a litmus test for where a society is going... this is an ominous signal," John Burns, the group's lawyer, said.

A Russian law dating back to 997 recognizes only four traditional religions - Orthodoxy, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam, BBC said.

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