The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office announced on Friday that it had labeled the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises and the Church of Spiritual Technology “undesirable” because they “pose a threat to the security of the Russian Federation,” The Moscow Times reported.
In April 2007, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Russia for repeatedly rejecting the application of the Moscow Church of Scientology to become a legally recognized religious association. The court found that the denial of legal status by Russia’s Justice Department and the support of this denial by Russian courts had no legal foundation.
In July 2007, the St. Petersburg City Court ordered the closing of the local Scientology center for violating its charter (the center was accused of offering unlicensed healthcare services). A Scientology center in Samara was closed down for similar reasons in November 2008. The Church of Scientology’s Moscow center was disbanded in 2015 after a court found that the group had failed to meet the requirements for operating as a recognized religious organization.
These confrontations between the Russian government and the courts and the Church of Scientology, which were routinely rebuked by the European courts, persisted for several years until, in June 2017, leaders of the Scientology Church in St. Petersburg were arrested and charged with “participation in an ‘extremist’ community, incitement of hatred, and illegal business activities.”
Scientology is a movement based on a set of beliefs and practices invented by American author L. Ron Hubbard. It has been defined as a cult, a business, and a new religion. Scientology followers believe that humans are immortal, spiritual beings that reside in a physical body. Each has had innumerable past lives and it is observed in advance (secretly). Scientology also teaches that our lives before our arrival on Earth were in extraterrestrial cultures.
According to The Moscow Times, Russia’s battle against Scientology as a foreign movement that threatens Russian cultural values has intensified as Russia’s relations with the West have soured over the past decade.
Under Russian law, members of “undesirable” groups may be punished by up to four years in prison, while their leaders may face up to six years.