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Court Orders Scientology Church Leader, Members Detained In St. Petersburg

Russian police searched the office of the Church of Scientology in Moscow a year ago

A court in St. Petersburg on June 8 ordered the spiritual leader of the city's branch of the Church of Scientology held in detention for two months.

Ivan Matsitsky, the church leader, was among five members of the church arrested on June 6 during a raid on the organization's offices in St. Petersburg.

Also detained were the church's chief accountant Sahib Aliyev, the chief of the official relations department Anastasia Terentieva, and church members Galina Shurinova and Konstantsia Yesaulkova.

They have been charged with participation in an "extremist" community, incitement of hatred, and illegal business activities.

A Federal Security Service (FSB) investigator told the court that the church's business activities, including offering commercial courses and scientology programs, had netted 276 million rubles ($4.84 million), which he called "a massive scale."

In 2015, a court ordered the Church of Scientology's Moscow operation to be dissolved, saying it could not be considered a religious organization.

Based on reporting by AP, TASS, and Interfax