The British Government says it is “alarmed” by Russia’s ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses and has launched an appeal for Vladimir Putin to uphold religious freedom. The ruling by the Russian Supreme Court has been criticised for effectively criminalising the peaceful worship of 175,000 Russian citizens and contravening rights enshrined in the country’s own constitution. Jehovah’s Witnesses plan to appeal Thursday’s ruling, which came after six days of hearings attended by hundreds of supporters. The case could be taken to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled a previous attempted ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia unlawful in 2010.