Russia says Scientology is 'extremism'

Moscow, Russia - A Scientology center near Moscow is the target of a criminal case and charges of inciting hatred, punishable by up to five years in prison, authorities said.

Russian investigators say documents and literature confiscated at the center in Shchyolkovo, northeast of Moscow, promote extremism, The Moscow Times reported Monday.

In April, a Siberian court added works by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard to a federal list of extremist materials, making all Scientology centers open to prosecution, the newspaper said.

The court said Hubbard's books incited social and religious hatred, promoted anti-state views and justified violence, especially against critics of Scientology.

The secretive church has come under regular criticism and litigation from former members, who accuse it of being a cult.

Germany has ruled it a commercial organization, and several European governments have refused to recognize it as a religion, the Times reported.