A court in the Russian city of St. Petersburg has accepted a case to try a group of people who follow the Church of Scientology on charges of illegal entrepreneurship, extremism, money laundering, and incitement of hatred.
The Neva district court said on February 12 that it had received the case involving five scientologists: Ivan Matsitsky, Sakhib Aliyev, Galina Shurinova, Anastasia Terentyeva, and Konstantsia Yesaulkova.
The case against the five was launched in July 2017 after the Federal Security Service (FSB) raided the Church of Scientology's branch in St. Petersburg.
The FSB said then that it had obtained evidence "proving" that the scientologists illegally received more than 276 million rubles (more than $4.3 million) in 2013-2016 for their services.
In 2016, Russia's Supreme Court ordered the closure of the Moscow branch of the Church of Scientology.
The Justice Ministry has ruled that a number of the church's publications are extremist and calls the organization a sect.
The Church of Scientology was founded in the United States in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.
The Church of Scientology was first registered officially in Russia in 1994.
Prominent scientologists include Hollywood film stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
Russian Court Accepts Case To Try Scientologists In St. Petersburg