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Russia Declares Church of Scientology ‘Undesirable’

Russia has declared two organizations linked to the U.S.-based Church of Scientology “undesirable,” in a move that is likely to lead to the group’s banning.

The Prosecutor General’s Office said on September 24 that the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises International and the Church of Spiritual Technology are religious corporations that “pose a threat to the security of the Russian Federation.”

The issue will now be taken up by the Ministry of Justice, which could ban the group under laws governing “undesirable” foreign nongovernmental organizations.

The “undesirable” organization law, adopted in May 2015 and since updated, was part of a series of regulations pushed by the Kremlin that squeezed many nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that received funding from foreign sources — mainly from Europe and the United States.

Dozens of foreign nongovernmental organizations have been deemed “undesirable” in Russia.

Russian authorities have moved against the Church of Scientology in the past, closing the group’s Moscow branch in 2016. The Justice Ministry has also declared some of the group’s literature extremist.

The Church of Scientology was founded in the United States in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, and describes itself as a religion. It was first registered officially in Russia in 1994.

Prominent scientologists include Hollywood film stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

The group’s critics say it is a cult and have accused Scientologists of harassing people who seek to quit.

With reporting by Current Time and Reuters

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