2019-11-15 17:10:00

St. Petersburg court releases leader of local Scientologists after 2.5 years of arrest

St. Petersburg, November 15, Interfax - The St. Petersburg City Court has declined to prolong the arrest of Ivan Matsitsky, one of the founders of the Church of Scientology in St. Petersburg, who is implicated in a criminal case involving inciting hatred and illegal enterprise by members of the religious group.

The investigators requested the prolongation of Matsitsky's arrest, the unified court press service said in a statement on Friday.

"The investigators asked for the arrest to be prolonged until February 19, saying the defense lawyers' activities had disoriented the work of the investigative body and had resulted in the people implicated in the case being charged with various editions of charges, everything had to be started anew and new charges had to be filed," the statement said.

The lawyers, for their part, asked for him to be put under house arrest or for a restraining order to be issued.

"The court declined the investigators' request, issuing a restraining order for Matsitsky. Matsitsky was immediately released from custody in the courtroom," the press release said.

According to earlier reports, Matsitsky and four other people implicated in the case were arrested in June 2017.

The charges in the criminal case, which involves several members of the Church of Scientology in St. Petersburg, includes two tracks of illegal activities: inciting hatred and illegal enterprise.

According to the Federal Security Service, experts determined that the revenue from the services provided in the period between January 3, 2013, and June 21, 2016, reached 276,264,612 rubles, which qualifies as an especially large amount. The money was generated via scientological programs.

According to the investigators, the extremist component in the activities of Scientologists consists in belittling the dignity of people who leave the church. Members of the scientological community define this category of people as "troublemakers."