From 5 to 10 million people in Russia under influence of sects - rehabilitation center

Moscow, Russia - There are about five thousand sects acting and involving up to ten million people in Russia.

According to Rev. Yevgeny Tremaskin, deputy head of the rehabilitation center for victims of non-traditional religions and occult and sorcery cults, his center has been continually approached by relatives of those who died in cult rites and those whose property has been taken away by sectarians. Over 20 criminal proceedings have been established against them, the Rodnaya gazeta newspaper writes on Friday.

‘Different sects target different sections of the population. Some aim at civil servants, while others at workers. Thus, scientologists and Jehovah’s Witnesses have gained the confidence of administrative and military circles and educational community. Oriental and Hindu philosophy has spread to the intellectual elite but targets mostly the youth’, Father Yevgeny said.

He also said the sects operate using the methods of criminal groups and communities. Thus, there are organizations which appear to stay for a few months. They ‘fleece the parishioners and disappear’. There are also ‘long-players’, such as the so-called Church of Christ, who collect the tithe and people’s property’ and other sects which have been operating in Russia for decades.

Most of the new religious movements are based in the Primorye Region, the newspaper notes. There are a great number of sects in the regions of Khanty-Mansi and Yamalo-Nenets, Krasnodar and Stavropol and the North Caucasus.

The largest sect in Russia is the Jehovah’s Witnesses with some 200 thousand followers. The second largest one is scientologists, followed by the Moonies and numerous groups of the Satanists. At the same time, the number of the Krishnaites has considerably decreased in recent years.

The total annual budget of the foreign sects in Russia amounts to 150 million dollars.