Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russia Declares Church Of Scientology 'Undesirable'

The Church of Scientology of Los Angeles, California. (file photo)
The Church of Scientology of Los Angeles, California. (file photo)

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 being banned.

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
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.