Yet Another Bad Day For Scientology: Banned In Russia

In the latest thrilling instalment of a series I like to call ‘Scientology Lolz’, I’d like to take you to Russia, and to a report from the Moscow Times:

“Works by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard will be added to the country’s list of extremist literature for “undermining the traditional spiritual values of the citizens of the Russian Federation,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said Wednesday. The ruling is the latest use of the hotly debated law on extremism to target systems of belief that are not traditional in Russia.” – Source: The Moscow Times

The laws have been pretty controversial over in Russia since their introduction back in 2002, originally to try and curtain the rise in violence against ethnic groups and foreign citizens. However, much like similar anti-terrorism laws here in the UK, the boundaries of what counts as ‘extremist’ or ‘terrorist’ behaviour have proven to be so blurry that lawful citizens have been falling foul of them. Still, we’re not talking about everyday lawful citizens here, we’re talking about scientologists… whom the Russia court have effectively seen fit to ban. As the paper goes on to report:

“Prosecutors said they intercepted 28 individual titles, including books, audio and video recordings by Hubbard that were sent to residents in Surgut from the United States. The materials were sent for study to “psychiatrists, psychologists and sociologists,” who determined that they should not be distributed in Russia, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.”

Individuals in possession of extremist materials can be jailed for up to 15 days or fined 3,000 rubles (which is round about £80 or so).

The ruling of scientology literature as illegal comes in response to a court case last year whereby the cult won the right to be called a religion in Russia, after an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. So it looks like something of a canny move from the law makers who seem intent on keeping the space-cult out of the minds of Russian citizens.

According to the research requested by prosecutors, the seized Scientological works contained “ideas justifying violence in general and in particular any means of opposing critics of Scientology,” the statement said. “The works have clear as well as hidden calls for social and religious hatred” and call for hindering the work of the state.

Personally, while I can see what the Russian courts are trying to do – curtail the actions of an organisation who are kooky at best and criminal at worst (need I remind you of the ‘Fraud in an organised gang’ ruling from France last year?). However, I don’t think I can support their methods – banning the books will only send them underground, and give them food for martyrdom, especially now they’re considered a religion in Russia. Instead, exposing the literature to as many people as possible, along with airing some of the dirtier secrets of the scientology back catalogue is a more effective way of giving people the information they need to make an informed choice.

Scientology has long been linked with law suits and accused of bullying tactics to silence its critics – but engaging in a counter-campaign of silencing tactics isn’t the way to stop that. The only real answer to the problem is freedom and the spreading of more information – given all the facts, in the cold light of day, I wonder just how many people will devote their lives to Thetons, Auditing and L.Ron Hubbard.

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  1. #1 by 66steve on May 5, 2010 - 13:53

    I assume the working group on scientology is right in that wiki-link when they say the EHCR ruling has no effect on ye or us Irish when it comes to the cult’s status as a religion.
    Any thoughts on that?

    oh, and
    para3, 1st sentence, should that be
    “…curtail the rise…”?

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