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Scientologist convicted of fraud in Russia's far east


June 27 (AFP)

A court in Russia's far eastern city of Khabarovsk Wednesday handed a local
Scientology leader a six year suspended sentence for money laundering and
setting up an illegal business, ITAR-TASS reported.
In the course of a year-long investigation launched against Olga Ukhova,
prosecutors also accused the Dianetics center of inflicting psychological,
physical and financial harm to its adherents, court officials said.
Scientology, founded by the science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and based in
Los Angeles, is recognized as a religion in the United States.
The Church of Scientology was officially set up in Russia in 1993 and claims
30,000 followers in the country. Since 1998, Russian prosecutors have sought to
prove that its activities were illegal, but Moscow courts have twice dismissed
cases against the church.
Scientology is considered a sect in some western countries, including France,
Germany and Greece, where authorities contend that its leaders seek economic
gain and use "quasi-totalitarian" methods to keep supporters in line.--END

Commentary/other news

THE LEADER OF RUSSIAN 'NARCONON' LEAVES SCIENTOLOGY Today, June, 26, 2001, Vladimir Ivanov - the leader of Russian 'Narkonon', the president of scientological 'Foundation of Salvation of Children and Adolescents from Drugs' and the foundation 'Drug-Free Russia', and the tireless aggressive promoter of the Hubbardist organization - while speaking live on popular radio 'Ekho Moskvy' , have unexpectedly announced that he had broken with the Scientology organization. Mr. Ivanov spoke about Scientology as a 'criminal cult' which has nothing to do with religion and which capitalizes cynically upon the sufferings and pain of other people.

Those were not the strongest expressions Mr. Ivanov used in relation to Scientology. Ivanov said that he is no longer 'Satanist' and had asked forgiveness from those numerous people whom he recruited into Scientology. He had announced that from now on none of the organizations he heads, has anything to do either to Scientology, or to 'Narconon'. At the same time, Mr. Ivanov had expressed an idea that technology used in 'Narconon' can be used effectively outside of Scientology and 'Narconon' itself. This announcement, while revealing that Mr. Ivanov had not fully freed himself from the bonds of Hubbardism, places him in the category of 'squirrel' - thus Scientologists call people who "illegally" use Hubbardist technology outside of the organization, and naturally, without paying commission fees.

Today there appeared on the Russian site of 'Narconon' - www/ - among praises of Hubbard and Scientology and hysterically-vicious attacks upon the critics of the cult - a following brief message:
'The Church of Scientology while pretending to be a religious non-profit organization, in fact is an aggressive commercial organization, which blatantly despises and violates human rights and the laws of the Russian Federation. More info today on radio 'Ekho Moskvy' at 14:00 and on radio 'Govorit Moskva' at 16:35.'

No doubt that the departure from the cult one of the most visible, active, notorious, and oldest members (even recently Vladimir Ivanov bragged the it was he who first brought the ideas of Hubbard into Russia) is a first rate sensation. Perhaps, Mr. Ivanov who several times unsuccessfully tried to be elected to the legislative bodies, had finally understood that the scientology membership will only hinder him in his political ambitions. Perhaps also, he has al last realized that it is impossible to really fight drugs from within and together with Scientology organization. Only the time will show what are the true reasons of this sensational event and how the whole situation will develop.

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