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Scientology is holding this Kazakh 20-year-old prisoner, says her media-grabbing mom


We turn to the Underground Bunker’s Russian-language wing to help us with a story developing in Kazakhstan that has generated some excitement over at and elsewhere. And even with expert translation assistance, this story is a bit batty and we’d like to get it more completely sorted out.

At this point, what we think we know is that one mother in Kazakhstan, Dina Tylevich, has taken on Scientology in a big way and is trying to get the top levels of government there interested in helping her recover her daughter, Rigina Hikmatulina, 20, who Dina says is in the US illegally as a Sea Org member at Scientology’s spiritual mecca, the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida.

The story has been covered by numerous press outlets in Kazakhstan, and in some depth by the news portal Nur.KZ, which a Kazakh friend tells us is very popular there.

Dina and her husband Danil Tylevich have appealed to Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev for help, and the Kazakh press has reported that Scientology, which was denied religious status in 2012, has been raided by law enforcement recently. Whether those government raids are related directly to the campaign by Dina Tylevich is unclear.


Dina has given numerous interviews, and she posts regularly on Facebook with her complaints about Scientology. She’s even started a Facebook group with the name “Kazakhstan without totalitarian cults” which features images of her daughter.


[Dina Tylevich, in a video interview]

Piecing together her various interviews, Dina has said that in May 2012, her then 16-year-old daughter Rigina graduated from high school with high marks and was planning on enrolling at a university in pursuit of a career in medicine. But at some point Rigina was waylaid by young Scientology recruiters, who convinced her that Scientology could bring her the kind of advancement a college education never could. “She was told that in one year she would obtain super powers to control the mind and the body that she could not get in ten years of higher education,” Dina said. Slick promotional films, “no worse than Hollywood ones,” helped convince Rigina to join Scientology and give up her plans for college.

But Scientology is expensive, and Rigina’s recruiters pressed her mother to pay for the pricey courses and to send her to the United States. Dina said that under that heavy pressure from the Scientology recruiters she has spent $60,000 on her daughter’s Scientology courses, and a total of $120,000 as she and her husband also got into Scientology to understand what their daughter was talking about. In order to pay for that, they had to sell a 3-bedroom apartment and their business in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city.

In May 2014, when Rigina turned 18, she then traveled to the US on a year-long visa so she could join Scientology’s “Sea Organization” in Clearwater. The Sea Org is Scientology’s hard core inner workforce, made up of employees who sign billion-year contracts and work around the clock for pennies an hour. Increasingly, as Scientology has come under siege in the US and Europe and Australia, more and more Sea Org workers are coming from places like Taiwan and Russia and Kazakhstan on religious worker visas, as we documented earlier.

Back in Kazakhstan, meanwhile, Dina and Danil Tylevich continued their own involvement in Scientology, and were assured that they would not have to give up their existing involvement in Islam. (Dina now says she realizes that that was a lie.) As late as August 2015, Dina was still involved in a Scientology front group, Youth for Human Rights, and made a trip that month to Brussels to promote the group.

But in December 2015, Dina said, she and her husband dropped out of Scientology. “I learned that Scientology is not a science, but a paranoid delusion and their promises are lies and fraud,” Dina said.

Their daughter Rigina then called and “disconnected” from them in the usual way. Dina says she had been told that she was a “potential trouble source” because her brother cousin worked at a military hospital in Almaty. And now that she and her husband had dropped out of Scientology, they were considered “suppressive persons,” and their daughter, according to Scientology policy, had to cut off all ties to them in order to maintain her own standing in the church. Dina said that she now considers her daughter a prisoner of the church, and she’s not taking it sitting down.

Dina said she made a formal complaint with the police, and she claims that Scientology officials have told her she won’t get Rigina back until she withdraws her police complaint.

“Under no circumstances will I withdraw my complaint, because it’s the only link I have left that gives me the hope that I’ll get my daughter home. I am asking and imploring President Nazarbayev and the American ambassador to Kazakhstan, George Krol, and all of the caring people to help save my daughter who is in the US as a hostage in the hands of this totalitarian cult,” Dina said.

News organization Nur.KZ says it has made a formal request to the US embassy in Kazakhstan for a response to the claim that Rigina is being held illegally in the US by Scientology. Another news organization claims that after it ran a June 10 expose on Scientology operating secretly in Kazakhstan under a generic name (Scientology often disguises itself with generic names like “Life Improvement Center”), on June 13 law enforcement raided seven different locations. Again, it’s not clear that this was directly related to the situation with Dina and Danil Tylevich. That news organization also claims that in those raids, a folder was found suggesting that Scientology had managed to recruit Nurali Aliyev, the deputy mayor of Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, and the son-in-law of President Nazarbayev.

Dina pointed out that her daughter’s one-year visa, issued in May 2014, has expired, and can only be renewed in Kazakhstan — therefore, she’s in the US illegally. In order to raise awareness of her daughter’s situation, Dina started a Twitter hashtag campaign, #‪‎ВернитеРигину (BringRiginaBack), and she’s giving as many interviews as she can.

In one video interview, Dina can be seen saying that her daughter Rigina is not allowed to go anywhere without a Scientology handler, and Nur.KZ posted a photo of Rigina with her official Flag minder. Does anyone here recognize her?


We’ll certainly be looking for updates on this story. And thanks to our Russian-language wing for fast and excellent work.


HowdyCon goes out with a bang

The main event of our meetup in Cleveland was our dinner Saturday night, which featured such surprises as the presence of Carnegie Mellon University professor and OG Scientology critic David Touretzky, who flew his own twin-engine plane from Pittsburgh for our soiree.

Some of us stragglers were still around last night as the city of Cleveland managed to secure its first national sports championship in 52 years, and its first NBA title ever with the Cavaliers’ unlikely comeback from a 3-games-to-1 deficit to defeat the Golden State Warriors.

So here’s how HowdyCon 2016 actually wrapped up, with a contingent watching the game’s last seconds in a room at the Gateway Radisson…


And then going out to experience the wild scene in the street outside. (You may just glimpse Michael Tilse giving high-fives in his “Scientology Kills” T-shirt)…


See you next year in Denver!


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on June 20, 2016 at 07:15

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. 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

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | 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 | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | 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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