Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Moscow City Court has banned the activities of the Moscow branch of the Church of Scientology, backing Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov’s argument that, since it registered its name as a US trademark, it cannot be considered a religious organisation.
The court ruled against the church in Moscow after rejecting its appeal against the Justice Ministry’s decision not to register it as a religious organisation.
Like NGOs, religious groups cannot operate in Russia without registration. Based on the court ruling, a committee will liquidate its affairs in the capital within six months.
The Church slammed the court decision. “When decisions like this are handed down, actually everyone loses, and this decision affects not only the Church of Scientology of Moscow. This decision is a sign of disease in the justice system,” the Church said in a statement.
For the Church, the court ruling in fact is indicative of the biased policy pursued by the Minister of Justice.
In August, Moscow investigators had opened a criminal probe after finding hidden microphones and cameras on the Moscow church’s premises.
In Moscow, the Church of Scientology was first registered in 1994, and opened a large home half kilometre from Red Square in 2011.
On several occasions, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of the Church, saying that Russia violated its rights by refusing to register its churches in various regions.