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Russia court bans Scientology texts

A Shchyolkovo town court ruled [statement text, in Russian] Thursday that the main texts of Scientology, including What Is Scientology?, are "calls to extremist activity" and placed them on the Federal List of Extremist Materials [text, in Russian], effectively banning them in Russia. The judge ruled, based on expert testimony, that materials by L Ron Hubbard "aimed at creating an isolated social group whose members are trained to flawless execution of their functions, much of which is to fight with the world." In addition to What Is Scientology?, two dozen essays [Moscow Times report] were also banned. Distributing materials on the list can be considered inciting hatred, punishable by up to five years in prison. Spokespeople from the Church of Scientology in Russia [official website, in Russian] said they plan to fight the decision [AP report].

In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] found that Russia discriminated [press release] against the Church of Scientology by barring their attempts to re-register as an organized religion [JURIST report]. In 2008, the German government ended an investigation [JURIST report] into the practices of the Church of Scientology [church website]. While the government's investigation into Scientology ceased, the organization continues to be under surveillance by domestic intelligence services [AP report]. Earlier, a Scientology center in France faced criminal charges [JURIST report] in connection with allegations of fraud and the illegal practice of pharmacy. That same year, Belgian prosecutor Jean-Claude Van Espen said Scientology should be classified as a criminal organization [JURIST report] after completing a 10-year investigation into the church's activities.

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