2017-06-08 18:57:00

St. Petersburg Church of Scientology founders arrested

St. Petersburg, June 8, Interfax - The Neva District Court of St. Petersburg on Thursday ordered one of the founders of the Church of Scientology in Russia's northern capital, Ivan Matsitsky, to be remanded in custody in connection with a criminal inquiry into incitement of hatred and illegal enterprise by members of a religious group, the city court spokesperson said.

"The court ordered that Matsitsky be remanded in custody until August 5, 2017," the source said in a statement.

Three more suspects have been placed under arrest: Anastasiya Terentyeva, Sakhib Aliyev and Galina Shurinova. A hearing on the arrest a fourth detained person, Konstantsiya Yesaulkova, is due on Friday.

According to open sources, Matsitsky is one of three co-founders of the religious group, the Church of Scientology of the city of St. Petersburg, and has been with it since 1994. The other two are Shurinova and Nadezhda Shchemeleva.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) investigator told the court that the suspects must be placed under arrest because not all individuals involved in the alleged crimes have been identified.

The main criminal charges brought against several members of the local Church of Scientology are incitement of hatred and illegal enterprise.

"Experts concluded that the income received from the provision of services between January 3, 2013 and June 21, 2016, totaled 276,264,612 rubles, which is a very massive scale. Said money was the proceeds from implementation of scientology programs," the FSB investigator told the court.

According to the inquiry, the extremist part in the work of scientologists consisted in their humiliation of people who quit the church. This category was branded by members of the scientologist community as "people causing nuisances." The investigator mentioned that one way to pressure such people was by issuing ethical orders within the organization.

On Tuesday FSB officers searched the Church of Scientology premises in St. Petersburg and the home addresses of the organization's members on the subject of illegal enterprise, incitement of hatred or animosity and the organizing of an extremist community, a spokesperson for the FSB in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region said. It was also reported that several suspects had been identified in the case.