TASS Russian News Agency (03.08.2017) – https://wwrn.org/articles/47229/ – St. Petersburg’s Neva District Court has extended arrest terms for defendants under the St. Petersburg Church of Scientology case until October 20, the city court’s press service reported on Thursday.

“The court has ruled to extend measures of restraint in the form of detention for Ivan Matsitsky, Anastasiya Terenteva and Sakhib Aliev until October 20. The court has also extended house arrest for Konstantsiya Yesaulkova for the same term,” the report says.

The members of the St. Petersburg Church of Scientology are accused of illegally organizing scientology courses and programs on a paid basis without any proper licensing or authorization documents, the proceeds from which are estimated at over 276 million rubles (around $4.6 mln). They were arrested on June 6. That same day, officials from the FSB’s St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region Directorate searched the organization’s office based on violations of legislation from the Russian Criminal Code “Illegal business operations,” “Incitement of hatred and enmity” and “Establishment of extremist organization.” Books and materials found in the office and recognized as extremist under the Russian law were confiscated and hauled away. According to the investigators, the St. Petersburg Church of Scientology is an extremist society.

Dianetics and Scientology is a religious and philosophical movement developed in the United States in the early 1950s by American science-fiction writer Lafayette Ron Hubbard. In Russia, some scientology files were included in the federal government’s list of extremism-related materials. Their storage and dissemination throughout the country’s territory is prohibited.

HRWF Comment

Members of the Church of Scientology in pretrial detention are now experiencing the same fate as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Dennis Christensen, a Danish Jehovah’s Witness, arrested in May for attending a religious meeting, was first sentenced to two-month pretrial detention. This imprisonment period was recently prolonged by four months.