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Scientology in Russia, a series by historian Chris Owen, part 2: The Putin years

[If it’s Russia, it must be a raid]

For some time now we’ve been nudging historian Chris Owen to help us understand what is going on with Scientology in Russia. We’ve seen news reports about numerous police raids of orgs there, and we’ve read about a prosecution involving some real estate fraud, but what are we to think about it?

Thankfully, Owen has done the deep dive we were hoping for, and that he’s known for. Today, his series continues with part two of his examination, covering Scientology under Vladimir Putin’s reign. (See part one here.)

 
2. Scientology in Putin’s Russia: retreat and repression

Scientology enjoyed a rapid expansion in Russia through the Boris Yeltsin era in the 1990s. Under his successor, Vladimir Putin, it faced a much more difficult and dangerous environment, characterised by increasingly frequent police raids and eventual criminal charges against senior Russian Scientologists.

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Putin’s new regime appealed to nationalist sentiment, and in particular to the support of the Russian Orthodox Church. Opposition to foreign sects became an increasingly prominent issue for Putin’s supporters, and eventually for the Russian government itself.

Public demonstrations of opposition to Scientology have been closely linked to political actors. In September 2003, the 100,000-strong pro-Putin youth group Walking Together launched a coordinated series of demonstrations outside Scientology centers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Volgograd, Nizhny Novgorod and Kaluga, with the support of Russian Orthodox youth groups and clergy. Another pro-Putin youth group, Young Russia, held similar demonstrations at Russian universities in 2008 to protest against Scientology’s efforts to recruit university students.

In 2009, the Russian Ministry of Justice established a national Expert Religious Studies Council, with anti-cult campaigner Alexander Dvorkin as its chairman, and authorised it to investigate faith groups. While it lacks formal powers as a voluntary body, it advises the ministry on whether a self-declared religious organisation should be registered as religious if its status is unclear.

From the start, the council took an antagonistic line towards non-mainstream and foreign faith groups. Speaking in May 2009, Dvorkin said: “For a long time we’ve been saying that very many organisations got the status of religious organisations in the reckless nineties, but in fact are either not religious or are not doing the activity stipulated in their statutes.” He charged that such organisations were carrying out political and commercial activity, making extremist statements and conducting “persistent proselytism.”

The Scientologists attempted to push back by hiring Russian scholars to write pro-Scientology ‘expertises,’ funded by the International Association of Scientologists, and carrying out ‘humanitarian’ activities to obtain favorable publicity. However, unlike in the West the ‘expertises’ seem to have had little impact, likely due to a much less receptive political and cultural environment. While Russian academics may accept Scientology’s claims of legitimacy, they appear to have little influence on the attitude of the Russian state.

 

[Scientology tried to capitalize on the 2004 Beslan school tragedy]

Public relations fiascos and corruption scandals inflicted damage on Scientology’s reputation. In September 2004, over 300 people were killed when Chechen militants seized a school in the North Ossetian town of Beslan. Scientologist Volunteer Ministers went to Beslan after the siege to set up a ‘Center for Spiritual Assistance.’ According to the newspaper Izvestia, they received a hostile response from psychologists working with traumatised Beslan residents in the aftermath of the siege, who complained to the local authorities. The chairman of the city council, Mairbek Tuayev, kicked the Scientologists out of town with the words: “Twenty-four hours from now, you’re going to be giving psychological assistance to each other somewhere up in the mountains, not in our district, is that clear?” The word “Scientologists” reportedly thereafter became a derogatory term in the area, used to describe all uninvited preachers.

An increasing number of orgs ran into problems with regional Russian authorities for carrying out what were deemed to be illegal or unauthorised activities. Several Dianetics/Scientology centers were closed down by courts for engaging in “medical activities” (i.e. the Purification Rundown) and educational activities without a license, and running an illegal business operation. In 2008, the St Petersburg org was raided by local police after a former Scientologist complained that it was holding onto his personal data from auditing sessions, which he feared could be used against him.

Many orgs and missions were refused permission to register or re-register as non-profit organisations. Scientology challenged the refusals in court and in several cases obtained the backing of the European Court of Human Rights. However, the Russian Constitutional Court refused to comply with the ECHR’s ruling regarding the Moscow org on the grounds of “newly discovered circumstances” cited by the Moscow district court.

The Scientology org in the Siberian city of Surgut was the subject of a particularly damaging court ruling in June 2010. After a consignment of L. Ron Hubbard’s works destined for the local org was seized by customs officials, the local Transport Prosecutor’s office sent it to the regional governor’s Religious Studies Council for evaluation. Similar councils exist across Russia at regional and national levels; they are intended to “obtain opinions of competent persons on the presence of signs of extremism in the activities of various organisations.” The views of the Russian Orthodox Church tend to be a strong influence on the councils.

An assortment of 29 Scientology and Dianetics books, pamphlets and lectures (see the list here was condemned in Surgut as containing “both explicit and implicit calls for social and religious discord, for the propaganda of exclusivity, superiority or inferiority of a person on the basis of his social and religious affiliation and attitude to religion, calls for obstruction of the legitimate activities of state bodies, in particular, judicial and law enforcement, to committing crimes motivated by ideological and religious hatred.”

Hubbard’s works were deemed to be “unacceptable for dissemination, as they undermine the traditional spiritual foundations of the life of citizens of the Russian Federation.” As well as being banned by the regional court, the Russian Prosecutor-General’s office added the works to the federal list of extremist works and banned them nationwide. Although the Surgut court eventually reversed its verdict, the Russian government kept the works on its banned list.

A similar ruling was made in Shchyolkovo near Moscow in 2011, regarding seven Scientology works that included the book What is Scientology? and the PTS/SP Course lectures. Experts who conducted a “psycholinguistic study” of the works concluded that “the Church of Scientology is trying to form a separate social group from its adherents and oppose them to the rest of the world, to destroy all other social groups as such.” They found that the works contained “negative assessments, negative attitudes and demeaning characteristics towards people in accordance with their social belonging.” The works were added to the federal banned list.

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The crackdown on Scientology was part of a wider simultaneous move against foreign faith groups. Between 2009 and 2012, over 1,200 Jehovah’s Witnesses were reportedly detained, some of whom were subsequently indicted on charges of extremism, and at least 68 JW works were added to the federal banned list.

As well as facing charges of extremism, Scientology’s close involvement with the notoriously corrupt world of Russian business inevitably meant that it would find itself linked to financial scandals. A former senior church executive recalls that there was much “hand-wringing and consternation” among the US leadership about the financial activities of some of those involved with Scientology in Russia. They were right to be worried, as it has proved to be a major vulnerability for the church.

The financial crisis of 1998 had led to Russian companies turning to Hubbard’s ‘Management Technology’ as a way to overcome their economic problems. By the end of the following decade, however, that wave had petered out; some companies had gone bust, others had changed management and many of Scientology’s supporters in government had retired. A second wave of new members joined the Russian arm of the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (WISE) after the 2008 financial crisis. By this time, the business culture had changed. Companies now pursued ‘get rich quick’ business plans, particularly corporate raiding, and sought ‘magic pills’ rather than long-term development strategies. WISE and other management schemes were able to capitalise on the demand for quick solutions.

 

[A recent WISE convention in Russia]

WISE members were implicated in a series of corruption cases during the 2000s and 2010s. In June 2006, Boris Shalimov, a former Russian MP and the education chief for Skovorodinsk region in the Russian Far East, was convicted of embezzling $20,000 of public money and spending it on Scientology training for his subordinates. He joined WISE in October 2002 and made his subordinates study Hubbard’s works and undergo Scientology testing. Another WISE business leader, Alexander Kislitsin, was arrested after allegedly being “caught red-handed” giving a bribe to the head of his region’s Road Safety Administration.

In Lipetsk, a police raid on a machine tools company suspected of embezzling over 200 million rubles ($2.7 million) from a state defence procurement order found that the firm was being run using Hubbard’s management principles. Its top executive, according to media reports, was a member of WISE. The subsequent investigation, according to the FSB, found that the firm was supposed to have bought new equipment to fulfil the order. Instead, old equipment was refurbished and passed off as new. The money thus saved was allegedly “transferred to the needs of the Church of Scientology.”

The head of the Olimp group of housing and construction companies, Ekaterina Zaborskikh, became the target of a criminal investigation after she was reported to have embezzled investors’ money and donated it to Scientology. She was eventually convicted of having embezzled 160 million rubles that were supposed to have been used to construct housing units and was sentenced to eight and a half years’ imprisonment. The amount said to have been stolen was ultimately put at around 800 million rubles ($12.3 million). This case had particularly significant consequences, as it led to police raids and ultimately criminal charges against members of the St Petersburg Scientology org.

Scandals, bad media coverage and government pressure took an increasing toll on WISE, which has experienced a marked shrinkage in attendees at its annual conferences. Companies became increasingly wary of any association with Scientology. Business trainers no longer advertised the ‘Hubbard method,’ even if they still used it, because of the likelihood that their clients would refuse to have anything to do with it.

Even as Scientology faced increasing pressure from the Russian authorities and media, and protested to the Russian and European courts that it was facing religious discrimination, leaked documents indicate that it was trying to destroy the rival independent Scientology movement (known as the Freezone) in the former USSR.

According to a memo posted by former Religious Technology Center head Marty Rathbun, OSA International’s investigations chief ordered the Moscow OSA branch to systematically attack the Freezone in the CIS countries. It was a continuation of a campaign that had been ongoing for at least two years, in which OSA had sought to spy on CIS Freezoners, get them into trouble with the authorities, threaten them with legal action, covertly stir up “defeatism and disaffection” between them and falsely label the Freezone as a German intelligence operation.

The new campaign was intended to “terminatedly handle” (destroy) the Russian and CIS Freezone, break its international connections and “get the CIS groups engaging in internecine feuds that shatter the network to its core.” It also sought to covertly take control of the groups’ online communications and use them to splinter the Freezoners, as well as portraying their leaders as “as criminal fraud[s] and get them under official investigation.”

‘Resources’ — apparently volunteer Scientologists – were to be used to infiltrate Freezone groups and gather evidence that could be used for legal action. A private investigator was also to be hired to “locate evidence of the crimes committed by the leading squirrels.” The campaign was to be carried out in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, where Freezone groups were active.

Scientology’s own survival was becoming increasingly tenuous as the Russian government stepped up activity against so-called ‘totalitarian sects.’ This was an initiative led by Putin personally. He started his third term as president in 2012 with a stronger emphasis on Russian nationalism and Orthodox Christianity, with the backing of the Orthodox Church. Following his election victory, he called for stronger laws to combat groups such as Scientology: “This is what poses a particular threat to society, to people, this is not only a hunt for souls, this is a hunt for people’s property.”

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In the wake of the mass protests against election-rigging that started in 2011 and continued into 2013, a raft of new laws was passed that curtailed many freedoms. They were strengthened by further laws passed in 2014 to suppress dissent following Russia’s interventions in Ukraine. A new national police unit, known as Centre E, was established to counter extremism.

[A 2011 Moscow raid]

The Moscow and St Petersburg orgs were subsequently raided several times in 2015 by the police and FSB. They found what they called “illegally installed audio-video items, consisting of acoustic microphones and video cameras, belonging to the category of special technical means designed to secretly obtain information” — in other words, devices used to record auditing sessions. No further action seems to have been taken.

Following the raid, the Ministry of Justice filed a lawsuit arguing that the registration of “Scientology” as a trademark violated the law on freedom of religion. The ministry had argued that a religion can be only promoted by a religious organisation, not a commercial partnership. This was something of a catch-22 for Scientology, as the ministry had not permitted the Moscow Scientologists to re-register as a religious organisation. The court heard expert evidence from a sociologist who concluded that Scientology’s activities were of a “clearly pronounced social nature,” rather than being religious. This view was strongly contested by Russian religious studies scholars.

According to the St Petersburg journalist Alexander Ermakov, the high-profile embezzlement case against Ekaterina Zaborskikh may have provided the FSB with a reason to step up the pressure on Scientology after her arrest in 2014. Up to this point, the authorities had been stymied by their inability to find significant legal grounds to go after Scientology. The earlier raids on the Moscow org had been what Russians call a “mask show” — a raid by uniformed officers in balaclavas to intimidate the target, without legal cause.

At the time, the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department had told one enquirer that the issue of Scientology “can be resolved only through the State Duma” – in other words, it was a political rather than a law enforcement problem. However, the ongoing investigation into Zaborskikh appears to have provided the FSB with a solid justification to pursue Scientology on serious criminal grounds.

A further raid took place in June 2016 when regional FSB and OMON (paramilitary riot police) officers raided the St Petersburg org. They arrested a number of org staff and seized financial records relating to the Zaborskikh case. In the same month, the Russian Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to dissolve the Moscow org. The Russian Orthodox Church praised the ruling as proving that “the very activity of this organisation is an outrage against human freedom as such.” Despite the ruling, the Moscow org managed to continue operating by rapidly reestablishing itself under a new legal identity – a tactic Scientology had also used in Greece when a court had ordered the Athens org to shut down.

Further FSB raids took place against the St Petersburg org in June 2017 and again in March 2018 as part of the same investigation. Both the Moscow and St Petersburg orgs were raided in March 2019 under an investigation into defrauding investors, related to the Zaborskikh case. Although details were not given, it is likely that the raids sought to find out where the embezzled money given by Zaborskikh to Scientology had gone. Notes accidentally disclosed by prosecutors indicate that they were seeking to establish a link between the two orgs, which are separately incorporated.

— Chris Owen

In part three: Coming up to Present Time.

 
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Source Code

“Parents are supposed to raise children so that children can grow up and become parents; there is a basic law in operation. So one day this little kid is standing there and his parent turns around, picks him up by the heels and bashes his brains out against a tree. This is unexpected, unusual. If you don’t think that incident is on record — anybody here want a headache? You have had your brains dashed out one way or the other. But we don’t necessarily have to turn these things on, because you are handling that. After all, what is getting one’s brains dashed out? But getting one’s brains dashed out by a parent would be some kind of a problem; that would be a bit of a problem, wouldn’t it? A parent is supposed to raise you and take care of you; you are supposed to be nice to the parent and yet the parent kills you. Well, it would be very upsetting. But of course, the funny part of it was the parent thought you were a wild animal and you rushed out from behind the rock, and you never got this equation at all because your brains were dashed out at the time. Sounds pretty wild, doesn’t it?” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 28, 1952

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Avast, Ye Mateys

“”The only trouble with Scn orgs is that they are not promoting, selling and delivering. Seems so elementary. Possibly they think we are asking for something strange or fantastic when we say ‘Raise your GDSes.’ Possibly org boarding and hatting does not seem complicated enough to produce a result. Possibly raising GDSes does not seem to be the result of recruiting, org boarding and hatting. Whatever it is the task is so simple that one gapes when it is not done. Although New York is doing better, its troubles are just failures to recruit, org bd and hat and then promote, sell and deliver. In NY they actually think they have an HGC but are only selling ‘Interiorization Rundowns and Life Repairs.’ That’s like walking up to a candy bar and asking to buy some candy and being told ‘Oh, we just sell the wrappers.’ Student training is going better. But I never was able to run an academy where students were co-auditing without selling and delivering an awful lot of Reviews and grades. It’s best to stress training in an org but not to the extent of not running a busy HGC. NY has ‘low pay.’ They probably lose about $20,000 a week in unpromoted unsold undelivered potential. That’s the loss in an org, not the wasted paper clips. The answer is recruiting org boarding hatting and thus promoting selling and delivering. I trust our FEBCs going back there learn this lesson well. That’s why they’re here.” — The Commodore, January 28, 1971

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“Scientology is for people that want to increase their IQ, decrease mental impediments, increase their understanding of the world or universe. These do not necessarily result in agreements as to how things are or should be. Even people at the top may not agree as to how this universe was created.”

 
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Past is Prologue

1998: Scientology again leafletted Bob Minton’s neighborhood this week. From the leaflet: “ROBERT MINTON, OF 137 FREMONT ROAD, SANDOWN, NH HAS GIVEN $1.25 MILLION TO COMPLETE STRANGERS TO DESTROY A RELIGION WHILE HIS MOTHER LIVES ON SOCIAL SECURITY. HE EVEN PUT A LIEN ON HER HOUSE AND CHARGED HER 10% INTEREST AS THE PRICE OF A LOAN. WHY IS HE SO MEAN AND CHEAP TO HIS OWN FAMILY WHILE SHOWERING RICHES ON RELIGIOUS BIGOTS TO FUND THEIR HATE CAMPAIGNS? LIKE MANY HATE MONGERS, HE HAS A HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRIC PROBLEMS. BUT A TROUBLED PAST IS NO EXCUSE FOR LEADING KKK-STYLE RALLIES AND SPREADING POISON ON THE INTERNET ABOUT A PEACEFUL RELIGION KNOWN FOR ITS HELPFUL LITERACY AND DRUG REHABILITATION PROGRAMS.”

 
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Random Howdy

“Sometimes people in official positions ask me if I have any living relatives and I’m yeah, but…then I feel sad.”

 
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Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Masterson arraigned Jan 20. Next conf to set prelim, March 24.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay’s sentencing delayed to March 2.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for May 20 in Los Angeles

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition for writ of mandate denied Oct 22 by Cal 2nd Appellate District. Petition for review by state supreme court denied Dec 11.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Dec 30, Judge Kleifield granted Scientology’s motions to compel arbitration. Jan 29: Status conference.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.

Concluded litigation:
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs.
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.

 
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SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks

The Australian Seven News network cancelled a 10-part investigation of Scientology and its history of dirty tricks. Read the transcripts of the episodes and judge for yourself why Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis might not have wanted viewers to see this hard-hitting series by journalist Bryan Seymour.

SCIENTOLOGY: FAIR GAME

After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.

LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.

SCIENTOLOGY’S CELEBRITIES, from A to Z

Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

 
Other links: Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Scientology TV premieres episode about legendary Saint Hill Manor to… total silence
[TWO years ago] Scientology wants you to bring your kids to its creepy ‘mecca’ in Florida — it’s an adventure!
[THREE years ago] Sunday Scientology sermon: L. Ron Hubbard on freeing kids from their bodies
[FOUR years ago] Move over, Xenu: Scientology’s other great space opera figure, the Duke of Chug
[FIVE years ago] Scientology, in forced-abortion case: We treat people no worse than the Catholic Church does
[SIX years ago] Scientology secrets in government docs: Did the feds have a chance to stop ‘Snow White’?
[SEVEN years ago] Drug flashbacks from one million years B.C.? It’s time for Scientology’s New OT 4!
[EIGHT years ago] Lawrence Wright’s Scientology Book Gets Some Thrashing from Cult Expert Steven Hassan
[NINE years ago] Scientology Half-Cocked: Commenters of the Week!

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,195 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,699 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,219 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,239 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,130 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,437 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,305 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,079 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,883 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,199 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,765 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,684 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,852 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,433 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,694 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,732 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,445 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,970 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 325 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,500 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,051 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,200 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,520 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,375 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,494 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,850 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,153 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,259 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,661 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,533 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,116 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,611 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,865 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,974 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on January 28, 2021 at 07:00

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Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 15 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 | 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele

 

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