Advance in the eastern frontier

The business-minded Scientology strategists are conquering Russia with psycho-programs and management courses - and they seek access to politics and the military

Moscow, Russia
November 1997

by Bettine Sengling

Oh, what a wonderful day, Marina thinks it's great to write up her sins. Anna has learned that aspirin ruins her brain. And Vladimir, an old man with thick glasses, can explain what ethics is by using building blocks. That's how it is with Scientologists, everybody has a little bit of success every day in the evening at 5:30 p.m. in the "Humanitarian Hubbard Center," the cult's headquarters in Moscow.

Vladimir has taken the course "Dignity and Integrity of the Personality." For several hours he sits in the classroom and, with a serious mien, shoves little colored cubes around on the table. Sometimes Tatjana, a young woman with blond hair and lips as pink as a highlighter, checks up on him. Tatjana is the instructor.

At times she calls out in the room to her happy commandos, "Stand up, pull the right ear of four fellow students, touch three dictionaries and stomp on the floor three times with your foot!" That is Scientology's first lesson: whoever sits in here has to follow orders - even if they are as senseless as these. It is only those people who do not ask questions that the psycho-concern employs in its campaign to control the world.

Scientology is currently on a conquest in the east: the sect offers its psycho-courses in Bulgaria and in the Czech Republic. In Hungary the Scientologists are working in prisons. Scientology business people, including the German Gerhard Haag, proprietor of the "Albania Bau & Handel" company travel to Albania. "Friedensbewegung Europa" from Hamburg, who experts think is aligned with Scientology, is establishing contact in Bosnia.

The battle plan for Russia's conquest is hanging on the wall of the first floor of the Moscow "Hubbard Center": a large map of the former Soviet Union with colored pins for each "Dianetics Center," the branches of the sect. 54 are spread over the entire country - from Minsk over to the Kamchatka Peninsula. About 50 more are planned, including in Kirgizistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

With a 170 staff members the Moscow Dianetics Center has grown to be the largest in the world. Director Vladimir Kuropjatnik, formerly a professional soldier, received commendation for the growth from David Miscavige, the lead Scientologist and sect founder Ron Hubbard's successor. The state organization got an award for the "fastest expansion" worldwide.

The strategists for the Russia campaign are part of a staff of almost 90 people. This "Sea Organization" is strictly divided into seven departments and is led by a "Commanding Officer": the Australian Richard Fear. Two Germans are also working on the Russian front: Veronika Kegel, responsible for the programs in schools, and Diethelm Alisch, director of Department Seven.

That department includes the "Office for Special Affairs," which is the private security service. It collects information about opponents. Enemy Number One is Alexander Dvorkin, an author of a book about Scientology and director of the Orthodox Church's cult information center. The Scientologists sued him because he described the cult as "totalitarian" and "destructive."

Anyone who wants to enter the elite Sea Organization has to tell their life story. In a questionnaire the applicant has to record when he or she had sex and with whom. Contracts for a billion years are signed. Wherever the Scientology field marshals see a niche, that is where they set up. They expand in business, seek access to the military, and work in schools, universities and in health agencies. In the Moscow School of Journalism they renovated a reading hall and equipped it with Hubbard's books. Institute director Jasen Sasurskij even granted the sect founder a doctorate posthumously - officially bestowed for his services as an author of science fiction novels.

The Russian branch of the "World Institute of Scientology Enterprises" (WISE) makes contact with business people; it maintains a college for managers and businessmen in Moscow. The Scientologists' so-called "management technology" is supposed to make companies fit for capitalism, in return for a sort of tax. The goal is obviously to build a powerful empire of companies. Part of this includes the support of politicians and winning high officials. That way the Hubbard disciples could advertise at a business seminar held by the Moscow city government. For example, with the director of the Moscow "Mowen" ventilator factory, Alexander Mironov.

It did not take long to convince him. For 6,000 dollars of the company's money he graduated a course in Sweden, then he opened a "Hubbard College" in the factory and forced his 500 workers to write up self-accusations and denounce their colleagues. It was not until Mironov died that the company could separate itself from the sect.

Alexander Dvorkin has also found that Moscow police agents were to have been trained by Scientology functionaries. And leading Russian military are meeting with leading Scientologists from the USA. The sect began to organize its psycho-courses for officers in a culture building not far from Moscow - in the neighborhood of a military research institute. On the bulletin board of the Moscow sect center hangs a certificate for Scientologist Galina Unger - signed by the interior minister. He praised Unger for her "psycho-rehabilitation work" for soldiers of the Interior Ministry who were returning from the war in Chechnia.

Munich native Veronika Kegel arrived in Moscow four years ago. She is responsible for Scientology's Criminon project, which is being tested in the prisons of Orjol. There Scientologists study the Hubbard booklet "The Way to Happiness" with prisoners. Besides that Kegel directs Narconon, the Moscow Center for drug addicts, and the so-called "detoxification program," whereby "poisons" and "radioactivity" are supposed to be sweated out of the organism by sitting in a sauna for hours. On top of that vitamins are dispensed in such large doses that former members complain about liver problems and epidermic outbreaks. The Moscow Health Ministry had licensed the horror treatment for humans in August 1994; the Scientologists subsequently got into the "Kremlin Clinics" for the political bigwigs and into the Wassilijewskoye children's sanatorium near Moscow, in which chronically ill children from Chernobyl were being treated. A horror program awaited thirty of them.

For ten days the little patients had to sweat in the sauna every day for several hours. The Scientologists proudly filmed as the children swallowed vitamins by the handful - but not a word about twelve-year-old Denis, who collapsed unconscious. And no word, either, about the six children who developed boils the size of fists on their thighs. The Health Ministry recently banned the treatment. Nevertheless it is still being offered, at 1,100 dollars a week.