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February 5, 2003,
BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union - Political

St Petersburg/Moscow, 4 February: The Moving Together youth organization have placed a five-tonne stone at the entrance to St Petersburg's mayoralty in the Smolnyy palace "to give weight" to their indefinite action of protest against the Scientologist sect.

Campaign activists put up a tent in front of the Scientologists' Church on the city's Ploshchad Vosstaniya [Square] on 27 January.

A demonstration was staged on Tuesday [4 February], the movement's press service told Interfax.

"We have spent almost two weeks in front of the Scientologists' Church and managed to reduce the inflow of new members to this organization and to collect thousands of signatures under an appeal to the city authorities to close the sect," the press service said.

To add more weight to the appeal the demonstrators stuck leaflets to the five-tonne stone outside Smolnyy.

The action will continue until the Scientologists' Church, which the Moving Together consider to be a Satanic and criminal sect, is closed down.

The city's Scientologists, meanwhile, said that they sent a protest against the youth movement's actions to the city authorities on 30 January.

They argued that their organization is registered and that "those who oppose them are protesting against the authorities and are possibly trying to incite religious enmity".

The Russian Justice Ministry told Interfax that the Scientologists, following several attempts to be re-registered, were denied the re-registration. All religious organizations had to be re- registered by 31 December 2000 in order to continue activities.

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