Moscow, November 10, Interfax - A court in the Russian city of Novosibirsk has designated the regional branch of the Chinese sect Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, as an extremist organization in Russia.
"The Khakassia regional organization for spiritual and physical self-improvement in accordance with the Great Law Falun Falun Dafa has been designated as an extremist organization and its activities in the territory of the Russian Federation have been banned," Novosibirsk's Fifth General Court of Appeal said in a ruling handed down at its session on Tuesday.
In July, the Supreme Court of Russia's internal republic of Khakassia refused to recognize Falun Gong as an extremist organization. A deputy prosecutor general of Khakassia appealed the decision, and it was later repealed.
Religious expert Roman Silantyev called the decision to ban Falun Gong an important milestone in combating extremism. "Currently, this is the world's largest sect. It has been active in Russia as well, and not only in Khakassia. I hope that starting from this moment, it will be possible to ban it throughout the territory of our country, as happened with the Jehovah's Witnesses," Silantyev told Interfax.
Falun Gong was founded in China in 1992. "This is an occult totalitarian sect based on an interest in qigong. Its founder was able to turn a rather mild practice into rituals dangerous to both the sect's members and the people around them," he said.
Falun Gong has been banned in China since 1999, due to rather frequent instances of insanity and suicide among the sect's members, as well as a refusal to accept medical assistance because of a belief in miraculous healing and encroachments on the constitutional order.
In recent years, followers of Falun Gong have faced obstacles in their activities throughout Russia. In December 2010, a Falun Gong exhibition was banned in Elista. In June 2015, officers of law enforcement thwarted the activity of the leader of the sect's cell in Izhevsk. In July 2020, six U.S. and one British non-governmental organization related to Falun Gong were recognized as unwelcome in Russia.