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Moscow orders banning of Scientology in ongoing dispute, church vows to appeal


We asked our man in Europe, British journalist Jonny Jacobsen, to make some sense of the news coming out of Russia today, where the government has repeatedly tried to ban or dissolve Scientology. But if anything, Scientology is dying less slowly in Russia than it is arguably anywhere in the world, and the government’s tactics may have something to do with it. What’s the latest, Jonny?

A Moscow city court on Monday banned Scientology’s centre in the capital, granting a request from the justice ministry. A statement at the ministry’s website said officials had acted after “gross and repeated violation” of federal laws.

Scientology has already announced it will appeal the decision to the Federal Supreme Court, the Ria Novosti news agency reported later Monday.


Judge Mikhail Kazakov agreed with the case advanced by the ministry, which had argued that the activities of the Church of Scientology Moscow did not comply with federal laws on freedom of religion, said the Ria Novosti agency. He order Scientology’s Moscow centre to wind itself up within six months.

Officials first moved to shut down Scientology in 2014 after “gross and repeated violations” of Russian federal laws, said a justice ministry statement.

While it suspended its action on October 22 last year when Scientology went to court to contest a ruling saying it had failed to properly register as a church, a Moscow appeal court finally rejected Scientology’s case in a ruling last month.

Justice ministry lawyers said that Scientology had registered the word “Scientology” as a trademark, Ria Novosti reported. It said a Scientology organisation in the United States, the Religious Technology Center, held the rights.

The front page of the RTC website specifically states that it holds the Dianetics and Scientology trademarks. Chairman of the board of the RTC is David Miscavige, Scientology’s leader.

In court on Monday, ministry lawyers argued that by registering this trademark Scientology had violated Russian laws on freedom of conscience and religion. Shutting down Scientology in Moscow did not violate religious freedom, as the ministry was simply applying consumer protection laws, said a ministry spokesman.

A lawyer for the Church of Scientology denounced the ministry’s action against it as anti-religious and an abuse of rights, Ria Novosti reported.

There was nothing unusual in religious books being protected by copyright, the lawyer argued: it was a way of protecting these texts from distortions introduced by heretics.

“This is the only Church of Scientology in Russia,” the lawyer added. If it was shut down, Scientologists in Russia would not be able to practise their faith, “…because the priest will not be protected by the secrecy of confession.”

The lawyer pointed that the European Court of Human Rights had already ruled in favour of Scientology in their dispute with the justice ministry, which had nevertheless refused to accept Scientology’s application to register as a church, Ria Novosti reported.

— Jonny Jacobsen



We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.

Our book tour is concluded for now. (But you can re-experience it through this nifty interactive map!) We’ll let you know about future appearances. Previous events: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4), Boston (8/24), Phoenix (9/15), Cleveland (9/23), Minneapolis (9/24), Portland (9/27), Seattle (9/28), Vancouver BC (9/29), Sydney (10/23), Melbourne (10/25), Adelaide (10/28), Perth (10/30)


Posted by Tony Ortega on November 23, 2015 at 17:00

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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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