Russia's Supreme Court on Thursday banned Jehovah's Witnesses from operating anywhere in the country, accepting a request from the justice ministry that the religious organization be considered an extremist group.
The court ordered the closure of the group's Russian headquarters and its 395 local chapters, as well as the seizure of its property.
The Interfax news agency on Thursday quoted Justice Ministry attorney Svetlana Borisova in court as saying that Jehovah's Witnesses pose a threat to Russians.
"They pose a threat to the rights of citizens, public order and public security," she told the court.
Borisova also said Jehovah's Witnesses' opposition to blood transfusions violates Russian health care laws.
Yaroslav Sivulsky, a spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, said in a statement they are "greatly disappointed by this development and deeply concerned about how this will affect our religious activity."