Mass media as a means of discrimination and propaganda – based on the example of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the USSR Cover Image

Massenmedien als Diskriminierungs – und Propagandamittel am Beispiel von Jehovas Zeugen in der UdSSR
Mass media as a means of discrimination and propaganda – based on the example of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the USSR

Author(s): Justyna Haas
Subject(s): History of ideas
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego
Keywords: discrimination; propaganda; Jehova’s Witnesses; religion; politics; totalitarism

Summary/Abstract: Jehovah’s Witnesses were banned as a religious community in the USSR. It was only after the collapse of the Soviet Union that the first registrations of the recognized religious communities followed in the territory of the Soviet Republics. In the Soviet Union, the government used media as a propaganda tool to create the image of Jehovah’s Witnesses as an anti-social and harmful group. They were accused of political activities, espionage to the US, and antisocial behavior. The films and press were used. The manipulation of information was based on agitations, false information, halftruths, political agitation and slander. The consequence of this was a wide-ranging discrimination against the witnesses. Their children got poorer grades, and employers refused to accept the money and leave. In order to win Jehovah’s Witnesses for Communist ideology and to break down organizational structures, the security services of the Eastern Bloc were working together, and in particular the Ministry of State Security of the GDR made a great contribution to this area. After 1990, the persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses were rehabilitated. They received victim cards and compensation money. Both in Russia and other postsovskaya republics there are tendencies to the progressive restriction of freedom of expression and religion. Since March 2015, the importation of literature from Jehovah’s Witnesses to Russia has been banned. In July 2015, their official website was forbidden. The public prosecutor’s office investigates some of Jehovah’s Witnesses because of their religious activities. On July 17, 2017 the Supreme Court of Russia confirmed its earlier ruling that criminalized the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Jehovah’s Witnesses have submitted 28 applications to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) because of the allegations of extremism and related maladministration. In 2015, the US Human Rights Commission reiterated its recommendations to Russia, which had previously been addressed (in 2003 and 2009), “to revise the law to combat extremist activities”.

  • Issue Year: 41/2017
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 43-53
  • Page Count: 11
  • Language: German