II. Press Release

from the Center of the Holy Martyr Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon, about the lawsuit, as brought to the attention of participants at the press conference in the Central Journalist Building on January 31, 1997.

Yakunin and totalitarian cults against the Moscow Patriarchy

In November 1996, dissident and defense counsel Mr. G. P. Yakunin initiated a lawsuit defending the honor, dignity and business reputation against A.L. Dvorkin, director of the Center of St. Irenaeus of Lyon for the department of religious education and catechism of the Moscow Patriarchy, accusing him of slandering religious organizations that were operating legally in Russia, which he [Dvorkin] had called totalitarian sects and destructive cults.

The publication that aroused Yakunin's indignation was a brochure by Prof. Dvorkin, "Ten Questions for Pushy Strangers, or Help for those who do not want to be recruited," which was published in May 1995 by the Department of Religious Education and Catechism of the Moscow Patriarchy. Passages of his publication had also been cited in the "Sovershenno Sekretno" newspaper.

In this brochure, A. L. Dvorkin attempted to delineate and record the basic characteristics of destructive cults and to show the differences between them and traditional denominations. In the text of the brochure were cited a number of western publications, including a book by Steven Hassan, "Combatting Cult Mind Control", Jean Ritchie's "The Secret World of Cults" and others.

1. About Dvorkin

In view of the fact that the opposing side has lately been broadcasting an inaccurate interpretation of Prof. A.L. Dvorkin's biography, we shall take the liberty of relating some highlights of his career.

Alexandr Leonidovich Dvorkin was born in Moscow in 1955. He emigrated to the USA in 1977 for political reasons. When his Soviet citizenship was rescinded he was stateless until 1983, when he attained US citizenship. He earned academic degrees in the USA: Bachelor of Arts in Russian Literature at Hunter College of New York University, Candidate of Theology at Saint Vladimir Orthodox Spiritual Academy, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Medieval History at Fordham University.

Dvorkin taught in higher educational institutions and published a number of academic texts. His doctoral dissertation "Johann Grozniy as a religious man" was published as an individual book (in the American language). Beginning in 1988 he worked in the capacity of writer and speaker for the Voice of America radio station in Washington, D.C., then as editor in the news department for the Svoboda radio station in Munich.

On December 31, 1991, through the blessing of his spiritual father Protopriest Johannes Meyendorf, he returned to Russia, where he has lived since that time. At present he retains his American citizenship and stays in Russia on a permit for foreign residents.

In March 1992, A.L. Dvorkin accepted work in the Department of Religious Education and Catechism with the Moscow Patriarchy. He teaches church history at the Russian Orthodox University and cultology at Saint Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Institute, where he is the cathedral director.

In 1993, in the blessed memory of archpriest Gleb Kaled, Dvorkin founded the Information-Consultation Center of St. Irenaeus of Lyon to study new religious movements and circulate information about them. The Center is part of the Department of Religious Education and Catechism. As of this year the Center's reputation extends not only throughout Russia, but into many foreign countries as well.

The Center does not and has not been involved in working with or rehabilitating individual cult victims. The Center is mainly concerned with official preventive information work.

In its activities the Center proceeds from the principal conviction that genuine freedom of choice is impossible without freedom of information. Complete information about itself is not given out during cult recruitment, therefore a person often joins an organization about which he knows next to nothing.

Therefore his constitutional right of freedom to obtain information has been violated and he is not able to make a genuinely informed choice. The staff of the center believe that if the present victims of cultists would have received accurate information about the organizations in a timely manner, the majority of them would not have become members.

2. About Yakunin

Gleb Pavlovich Yakunin, former clergyman of the Moscow Patriarchy, was defrocked in 1994 for gross violations of Church canonical beliefs. He did not acknowledge the decision of the Church, and supported the so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchy (UOCKP), which is not recognized by a single Orthodox Church worldwide. The UOCKP is led by Mikhail Denisenko, the self-proclaimed "Patriarch of Kiev and of all Russia - Ukrainian Filaret", and who used to be a Synod member and a metropolitan of the Kiev diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1992, Denisenko was defrocked by the Church for flagrantly violating his ordinal vows and for anti-Church activities. At the present time, Mr. Denisenko supports close contact with the "Unification Church" of Sun Men Moon, and even called upon his personal representative, "archmandrite" Vikenti Miskovi for the solemn pronouncement of prayers at a public conference of the Moonists' "International Family Foundation" on October 1996, and for the benediction for all assembled.

Interesting that earlier Yakunin was repeatedly subject to harsh criticism from the metropolitan of the Kiev Filaret for specific moral violations and for active employment with the KGB under the pseudonym of Anton. But it was worth being defrocked for Mr. Denisenko to organize his department from the Moscow Patriarchy as a pseudo-church structure, with Yakunin at his side in less than an hour zealously acting as legal defense.

At Duma organizational deputy V. Borshchev's "round table" (it commenced December 27, 1996 in the RF Presidential Administrative Building on Old Square), Yakunin once again voiced his favorite theme, namely that the only destructive cult he knew of currently in existence was the Moscow Patriarchy.

Many people have heard from Mr. Yakunin's lips on more than one occasion threats to persecute the ROC for its help in the lawsuit. The lawsuit against A.L. Dvorkin and the Department of Religious Education and Catechism was to be only the first phase. In the event that was won, one lawsuit would have followed another against other departments of the Russian Orthodox Church and its employees.

In 1993, Yakunin was elected in the RF Duma according to the "Choice of Russia" register, where he gained notoriety by participating in a number of unappetizing episodes. In 1996, he was not re-elected and was no longer a deputy. He now heads an organization called "Social Committee to Defend Freedom of Conscience."

The Committee is known for its appearance in defense of a series of totalitarian cults, including the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Moonists and the Scientologists (when RF Health Minister A. Tsaregorodtsev issued an order prohibiting the use of Scientology methods in the public health system, Yakunin distributed an entire series of protests against this "discriminatory" decision, personally accusing Dvorkin of drafting the order). The lawsuit papers against Dvorkin were submitted by the Committee and signed by its president Yakunin.

3. The Essence of the Lawsuit

In the lawsuit papers "on the defense of the honor, dignity and business reputation and refutation of disparaging information" was asserted that Dvorkin's brochure "presented libel in content and style for religious organizations registered with the RF Ministry of Justice and legally operating on Russian territory." The lawsuit papers also mentioned five such religious organizations: the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the Unification Church, the Church of Scientology, the Mother of God (Bogorodichny) Center, Aum Shinrikyo, and "other organizations."

The complainant objected to Dvorkin's use of the terms "totalitarian sects" and "destructive cults" and regarded the following information cited by him in the brochure to be "not corresponding to reality and disparaging."

Dvorkin asserted that cults deprived their members of material wealth, although, as mentioned in the legal papers, "The Committee is not aware of a case resulting in criminal liability of any sort from instructions to members ... by religious organizations or their leaders for crimes against property."

Dvorkin asserted that members of totalitarian cults were subjected to various forms of violence whereas, according to the complainant's assertion, "court convictions were lacking in Russia by which anyone of the indicated character could plead guilty."

Dvorkin asserted that "the goal of all totalitarian cults was ... to come into power ... They ... invested resources, they increased their influence, and prepared to seize power." And again the complainant, with enviable persistence, noted, "... it should be kept in view that according to the Committee's information, applicable criminal cases and current court convictions are lacking ... with respect to any members of the religious organizations mentioned by Dvorkin."

Finally, the complainant found particularly offensive the following statement from the brochure, " ... [members of totalitarian cults] do not stop at libel, theft, deceit, using consciousness control on their own members or, finally, defamation of government officials and social figures, in offering resistance, or even physically removing dissenting people (or groups of people). In essence, we are dealing with a mafia-like structure that maintains iron discipline and whose members unquestioningly obey its management.

The complainant asserted that Dvorkin "reported general information of a social significance not corresponding to reality and that his information discredited new religious organizations by saying they presented criminal associations and that their members committed criminally punishable deeds, that they lessened honor and dignity of an indeterminate circle of people, namely, members of religious movements, along with the reputation of their religious organizations."

The complainant asked "to recognize the non-correspondence to reality of the statements by A.L. Dvorkin and of enlightenment about criminal activities of non-traditional organizations and their members."

Naturally, all information reported by Prof. Dvorkin in the brochure was supported by documentation, as was to be demonstrated in court, where yet more unappetizing details about cultist activities and their secret teachings were brought to light.

4. The Legal Hearing Began

Appearing in defense of A.L. Dvorkin was a well-known lawyer, Geralina Vladimirovna Lyubarskaya, member of the Moscow municipal board of advocates.

On December 16, 1996, A.L. Dvorkin and G.V. Lyubarskaya met with Judge L. Saltykova of the Khoroshev district court (site of Dvorkin's residence registration) in her chambers. Present for the meeting were council for the defense M. Osadchev and defense attorney G. Krylova. Mrs. Krylova had already gained a reputation for defending Aum Shinrikyo in a court hearing initiated by the Moscow Committee to Protect Youth (which consists of parents and friends of cult victims), and now she was defending the Moonist CARP organization in a similar court proceeding in Saint Petersburg.

The defendant submitted that neither Mr. Yakunin nor his Committee had ever been mentioned in Dvorkin's brochure and consequently could not properly represent the complainants, and that they did not have the right to have other people file their complaint. The judge rejected this submission and said that the Scientologists and Krishnas were standing at the door in any case to submit their own lawsuits. The judge recognized Dvorkin as a correspondent for the Department of Religious Education and Catechism of the Moscow Patriarch, and that the Department was the publisher of the brochure and holder of its copyright.

Other submissions were also made to the judge about transferring jurisdiction to a different court in view of the fact that Dvorkin did not live in the vicinity of his registration and the juridicial address of the correspondent was not located in the central administrative district. In view of the prospect that the hearings were to receive wide public resonance and that it would require a large quantity of testimony, it would be more convenient to hold them in the Tverskaya Intermunicipal Court, which was situated in the center, near the subway. Judge Saltykova also rejected this submission.

5. New lawsuits submitted

After Yakunin's, three new lawsuits were submitted on Dvorkin, one from members of the Society for Krishna Consciousness, another from Scientology and a third from a group of Scientologists. They brought all the claims already submitted in court and added two of their own.

All three new complainants cited the following statement from Dvorkin's brochure: "Traditional Christian denominations are constructive, their members try to be of use to society, to their country and to people. What constructive work are members of totalitarian cults capable of outside of spending many hours begging on the streets, and that only for their own cult?" With indignation, the complainants protested that adherents of their "religions" had never begged on the streets. Besides that, Scientologists asserted, groups of their fellow believers worked in a number of localities that had been affected by natural disasters, and they had helped victims using Hubbard's methods.

The author of this lawsuit, A. Titovchenko, a staff member of the "Church of Scientology," submitted a financial claim to the defendants. Titovchenko asserted, "Wide distribution of this information [in Dvorkin's brochure] caused antagonism for me and my work from the side of my former wife [sic] and worsened our relations; worsened my relations with close friends, other friends and acquaintances." Titovchenko estimated the amount of the moral damages due to him from Dvorkin at 55 million rubles.

To all appearances, the cults gave an order to their members to flood the Khoroshev court with lawsuits. By the end of last year the court accepted for consideration lawsuits submitted by 25 people. With the exception of one Krishna they were all members of the Scientology organization.

Attorney Lyubarskaya does not think that one of these people submitted a valid lawsuit. Not one of them was mentioned in Dvorkin's brochure and consequently their honor and dignity would not have been affected. The only valid lawsuit would have been submitted by the cults, but, to all appearances, they had misgivings for the present about coming forward with independent claims.

In the West, totalitarian cults are widely known for their litigiousness. They try to involve their enemies in endless legal investigations, and if they cannot use the court system to bring about their silence, then they use it in an effort to bring about their ruination. Scientology founder Hubbard repeatedly told his followers that the legal system needed to be used to intimidate enemies. And as a matter of fact, although such legal procedures almost never met with success, many journalists still have misgivings about writing about Scientology, and many critics, not wanting to answer an infinite number of court summonses, fall silent.

6. Cultists against the Orthodox

The mounting situation was looking serious enough. The first, unprecedented court hearing of this sort in Moscow. As a matter of fact, this was a case of Yakunin, Scientology and Krishnaism against the Moscow Patriarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. The ability of the Church to have its own opinion about cults was being put into doubt in that, in his brochure, A.L. Dvorkin did not say anything new when compared to the 1994 resolution about cults by the Bishops Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Of course, cults (with Scientology [1] at the top of list for being the most aggressive) were not so much worried about Dvorkin's brochure as they were about all the activities directed from the Center of St. Irenaeus of Lyon. Over the four years of its existence Dvorkin had published approximately 250 items about new religious movements in more than ten languages, including three books. His articles, editorials and interviews had been printed in respected publications like Izvestiya, Nezavicimaya Gazeta, Sovershenno Sekretno, Novoe Vremya, Literaturnaya Gazeta, Delovoy Mir, Argumenty y Fakty, Tverskaya 13, Rabochaya Tribuna, Al'fa y Omega, Vestnik RKhD, Novaya Evropa, et alia.

[1] Now and then the word "Scientology" is used not only in the sense of Hubbard's teachings, but also as a label for the aggregate of all Scientology organizations -- the whole Scientology empire

Well-known western publications that could be included in the above are: the American New York Times and Time, the French Express, the German Zeit and Berliner Dialog, the Danish Kristelicht Dagblad and others.

Prof. A.L. Dvorkin has traveled far and wide on speaker's tours, all across Russia, as well as abroad. He has organized or conducted not less than 15 seminars, round-table discussions or conferences, often appearing on radio and television, has served as consultant on cult issues for a number of leading Russian and foreign telecommunication companies, for a number of Russian government agencies (at both the local and federal levels) and for parliamentary deputies.

With bitter resentment Scientology accepted the June 1996 order of the RF Health Ministry to prohibit the use of Scientology's methods in the government health system. (This order emerged after two years of research by the Center of St. Irenaeus of Lyon, which was reacting to the adoption of Scientology into the Russian health system.) It must be said that with the acceptance of its pseudo-medical "refined program" (which, in the opinion of a number of experts, may cause irreparable harm to health), Scientology took in 1,500 dollars from each of its clients, so that the Ministry's order inflicted extremely significant damage to the organization's cash receipts.

The campaign in the press against A.L. Dvorkin began in spring 1996, when the Vremechko broadcast aired a crudely fabricated story about him, in which he was accused of being an agent for the American CAN organization in Russia (CAN was an organization of parents who had lost their children to cults), and of being engaged in kidnapping people and forcing them to convert to Orthodoxy. Prof. Dvorkin did not ever have contact with that organization, nor was he personally acquainted with it or any of its representatives. It was perfectly obvious that this fabricated (most likely by order of Scientology) story was a fake. It must be said to the credit of the general director of the ATB A.A. Zlatopol'sky that, upon receiving a letter from the Patriarchy addressing this story, he immediately instructed the Vremechko program to apologize on a live broadcast, and to air a three-minute statement of refutation by Prof. Dvorkin a week after the ill-fated story had appeared.

In August 1996, it became widely known that representatives connected with the Los Angeles Scientology law offices of Moxon and Bartelson (this law office managed to win the court case against CAN and closed it down. trans. note: CAN was later bought and operated by a Scientologist.) made contact with friends and acquaintances of Dvorkin in the USA and questioned them about him (according to instructions from Scientology founder Hubbard, approaches to acquaintances of "enemies" have to be done as follows, "We are investigating the criminal activities of your friend N. We have already succeeded in finding out much. What are you able to tell us in this regard?") with the intention of obtaining compromising material ("compromat") on him.

Any time a newspaper published material by A.L. Dvorkin, its editors would receive letters from authors who accused Dvorkin of wrongdoing of every possible sort. Simply inquiries showed that all these messages were inspired by Scientology.

By fall of 1996 the collection of articles against A.L. Dvorkin and the Center of St. Irenaeus of Lyon began increasing. For example, newspapers like Moskovskie Novosti (MN) and Kuranty published slanderous material about A.L. Dvorkin (in which he was called a "person who instigated religious hatred," a "CAN agent," etc.) to make the preparations necessary for the court hearing. The MN declined in crass terms to publish a refutation on the editorial page. Outside of that, the Express-Khronika, a newspaper under Mr. Yakunin's sway, had already long specialized in launching torrents of abuse at Prof. Dvorkin.

Mr. A. Pchelintsev, director of the private non-governmental Institute of Religion and State, accused A.L. Dvorkin in a published statement of instigating alarmist tendencies and of fomenting internecine discord and hatred, even though the Orthodox theologian's brochure had printed in bold type: members of cults are, first of all, victims and are in need of sympathy and indulgence. Mr. Pchelintsev declared that a foreign gentleman, like Dvorkin, needed to be put in handcuffs and be packed off within 24 hours to the Russian border.

With much the same appeal spoke Sergei Zuev, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Russian division of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, who stated that Prof. Dvorkin personally began the hysterical anti-cult campaign in Russia, that he had inspired all the government's anti-cult measures and that he bore personal responsibility for an anti-Krishna pogrom being carried out in Rostov and Krasnodar.

7. What all this means

We would like to repeat one more time that the court hearings lying ahead of us in 1997 were of an extremely significant meaning. It was the first time of substance in our country that cults attempted to make themselves a new factor in Russian reality with which people would have to contend.

Cultists enlisted for their support "experts" who were aligned with them, whose favorite thesis was that the only problem associated with "new religions" was the anti-cult movement, which supposedly also invented the myth of consciousness control and other allegedly criminal activities for non-traditional religions. The anti-cult movement, they said, was the only one that bore responsibility for the tragedies in Jonestown, Guyana (where in 1978, by order of People's Temple cult leader Jim Jones, more than 900 people were killed or committed suicide) and in Waco, Texas (where in 1993 Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh and more than 100 cultists went up in flames along with the building they lived in). Thus the problem was wracked with blame and fraught with difficulty, but we have already been through this type of thing many times before. The Red Terror was supposedly prompted by the criminal White Guard, the Bolshevist shooting of the clergy was supposedly the unwillingness of the Church to give valuables to aid starving people, and the extermination of the Russian peasantry during the collectivization era was supposedly greedy kulaks.

The cultists decided to test the power of their opponent. One by one, they wanted to see how far we could be pushed. Those who file a prospective lawsuit are subjecting to doubt constitutional rights of the Russian people like freedom to obtain information. We have the right to express our opinion about cults and report publicly about their criminal operations and totalitarian tendencies in their teachings, as well as their practices. The citizens of Russia have the right to obtain this information.

But this right is regarded by cultists as an obstacle to attaining control in our country. They want control over any information about themselves used in the media. It was precisely in this sense that the lawsuit was filed. Our loss in court would have set a precedent for denying us and the people of Russia our inalienable rights. Therefore we could not afford not to win!

8. Post scriptum

By the end of February 1997, the following new developments occurred in the case.

1. His Holiness Alexiy II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, expressed a personal interest in these proceedings and gave approval for his vicar, the Right Reverend Tikhon, Bishop of Bronnitssky and chairman of the publishing committee of the Moscow Patriarch, to join the case as a third party on the side of the defendant.

2. The Church of Scientology Moscow published a "biography" of A.L. Dvorkin under the title of "Dvorkin Grozniy as a religious man", in which Prof. Dvorkin was accused of fanaticism, gross incompetence, and of ties to the "criminal" organization of CAN. This text was widely distributed along many channels of the mass media.

3. On January 31, 1997, three correspondents held a press conference in which a large number of journalists were present. The press conference was widely promoted in the print and electronic media. The overwhelming majority of the items presented were written from a position of suspended objectivity. Only the Moskovskie Novosti and the Russkaya Mysl' used skepticism with the point of rationally understanding the bluntly negative position presented by the correspondents.

4. Although the hearings had not yet begun, in the Center of St. Irenaeus of Lyon and in diverse departments began receiving a multitude of signed letters of support from thousands of sympathetic people. By the end of February more than 15,000 signatures had accumulated. A letter expressing support for the Center of St. Irenaeus of Lyon came from Sindesmos, a pan-Orthodox youth organization.

5. All this seemed to put the complainants, who did not anticipate such widespread church support for Prof. Dvorkin, in a difficult position. Their goal was to win the case and to show that Dvorkin had not presented the opinion of the Church, which, as it seemed to them, was based on more "constructive" grounds. But suddenly it appeared that they were getting involved in a court case with the Orthodox Church, which, of course, was not too favorable for their public image. The Russian people remember all too well the trials staged against the Church by the communists.

The Krishnati showered letters on all departments of Church administration, demanding to embark in official dialogue with them in exchange for the promise to withdraw the lawsuit. In the alternative case they threatened to file a series of new lawsuits. While the Russian Orthodox Church does maintain official contact with all traditional religious organizations, it does not conduct dialogue with imposters.

6. Archbishop Sobor of the Russian Orthodox Church, in Moscow from 18 to 23 February 1997, excommunicated (threw out of the Church) Mr. Yakunin and Mr. Denisenko (former metropolitan of filaret) for their dissident anti-Church activity.

7. Judge Lyudmila Saltykova of the Khoroshev Intramunicipal Court set the date to the begin of the legal proceedings for April 3, 1997.


Who is sowing religious discord? [1]

The chief editor of the Tol'yattin newspaper Zhisn' said in the February/March issue that the history of the Orthodox Church, in all of Russia, had never known an Inquisition or a religious punitive war. A similar idea began to appear in Russia once the little-known Russian American Alexandr Leonidovich Dvorkin returned to Russia. Now the Committee for the Protection of Freedom of Conscience has filed a lawsuit accusing Dvorkin of doing damage to the honor, dignity and reputation to several religious organizations simultaneously in violation of the Constitution. The editor expresses the opinion that the situation is like taking a snake to one's bosom.

[1] In preparation for the hearings, Scientology distributed the following article over the Internet with a request for "compromat" on A.L. Dvorkin.
A legally preserved copy of this document is on file. -- editors.

It is interesting that a group of jealous advocates of Dvorkin recently appealed to the President to "stop persecuting" Dvorkin. A little bit like if the Nazis appealed to the UN about them interfering with sending people to the concentration camps.

Suppressive people are all alike in the way they stay suppressive, like Dvorkin does. In his rage and isolation he imagines there are enemies all around himself, and therefore he continues to do battle with imaginary foes. Without a moment's hesitation he insults and offends people, seeing evil around around himself. What drives him to do this? But whatever it is that's driving him, possibly, he doesn't himself doesn't know. He completely forgets about what assistance is necessary around himself, if, for example, someone close to him fell ill of if something were to happen to himself. Perhaps then he would be in dire need of information and help exactly of the sort he had been fighting? And the question we have put to ourselves many times about why he, Alexandr Leonidovich, is not able to tell others about his own difficulties? But such an answer is not up to us.

The article from Tol'yatti causes one to ponder: do others have widely yet little known facts that foment religious hatred inspired by Dvorkin? If you know of anything requiring publication, please contact our representative. Information submitted will be accurate, detailed and specify time and place of occurrence.

When all such information becomes known, a true, complete picture of Dvorkin's sinister actions might be revealed that will give him his just deserts.

Department of Public Relations
Hubbard Humanitarian Center