St Petersburg scientologists protest pro-Putin youth movement's rally

BBC Monitoring /January 31, 2003

St Petersburg, Moscow -- The St. Petersburg office of the Church of Scientology has sent to the city's authorities a protest against the Moving Together organization's rally, an official from St Petersburg's administration told Interfax on Thursday.

Moving Together activists started their indefinite rally on 27 January. They are currently living in a tent at the entrance to the religious organization's headquarters. "Our rally will continue until the administration either makes us leave or closes the sect," the organization's leader, Vasiliy Yakemenko, said.

Meanwhile, Anton Lychkin, who heads the Church of Scientology's Moscow office, told Interfax that the religious organization is not a sect. Rather, "it has been granted registration, and those who are protesting against its members are thus protesting against the authorities and may be trying to incite religious hatred."

At the same time, the Justice Ministry told Interfax that in spite of numerous attempts, the Church of Scientology did not obtain the re-registration that all Russian religious organizations were required to receive by 31 January 2000 in order to continue their activities.

The Church of Scientology has offices in many countries, including Russia. The Russian Orthodox Church regards this religious organization as a dangerous sect which pursues the idea of transforming the world according to its own rules.

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