Russian scientologist faces extremism charges after forcing his staff to embrace the faith

The Moscow News/August 18, 2010

Prosecutors in Samara Region are taking a high-flying businessman to task for forcing his employees to go on scientology courses. The director of electronics company RosKabelSvyaz Lev Syrolev was threatening to sack faithless workers, but now faces charges for using extremist material.

"These practices are illegal and violate laws on combating extremist activity, labour laws, as well as the constitution of Russia," Prosecutors said in a press release. The Surgut city court considers the ideas of L Ron Hubbard, Scientology's founder, to "justify violence, and in particular ways to combat critics of scientology."

"The works of Hubbard present demands for social and religious discord, to promote the superiority and inferiority of people based on their social and religious affiliation, and to commit crimes for reasons of ideological and religious hatred," Interfax reported.

A Samara Region court closed down the area's Dianetics Centre in 2008, dianetics are one of the tenets of Scientology. Its employees were operating without a license to practice hypnotherapy and were teaching Hubbard's works, reported.

Work of God

The case comes a week after devout Orthodox milk tycoon Vasily Boiko-Veliky (Vasily Boiko the Great) announced he was sending all 6000 employees in his company Vash Finansovy Popechitel (VFP) on a course in religious instruction, to "facilitate repentance in our people," reported.

He also threatened to fire anyone who had an abortion or abetted someone else in having one, or anyone unmarried who lived with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Labour rights specialist Pyotr Bizyukov said he had no legal justification and predicted a lively court battle.

Controversial claims

The church of scientology has a rocky track record in Russia. In Moscow it applied 11 times to be registered as a recognised religion and is currently fighting its corner in Strasbourg.

It has met criticism across the globe, and has been accused of defrauding and abusing its members, charging exorbitant fees for spiritual services. It has taken its critics to court and its aggressiveness in doing so has been condemned as harassment.

Hubbard claims that 80 per cent of people are ‘social personalities,' who welcome and contribute to the welfare of others, and that 20 per cent are ‘suppressive personalities.' Of these 2.5 per cent are hopelessly anti-social and make up the small proportion of individuals truly dangerous to humanity. Any contact with these people has an adverse affect on one's spiritual condition and makes necessitates disconnection. Defectors from the religion who turn into critics are declared suppressive persons and the church has acquired a reputation for moving aggressively against them.

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