Court slaps house arrest on fifth member of St. Petersburg Church of Scientology

St. Petersburg - On Friday, the St. Petersburg's Neva District Court slapped house arrests on the last of five suspects, who were detained this week by the Federal Security Service (FSB) in connection with the St. Petersburg Church of Scientology case. Investigators requested the court place those accused in custody, the St. Petersburg district court’s press service reported.

"The court has placed Konstantsiya Yesaulova under house arrest as a measure of restraint until August 5," the report says.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the court approved the detention of Sakhib Aliyev, Anastasiya Terentyeva, Galina Shurinova and Ivan Matsitsky, who are key figures in the investigation, according to the FSB.

The members of the St. Petersburg Church of Scientology are accused of illegally organizing scientology courses and programs on a paid basis without any proper licensing or authorization documents, the proceeds from which are estimated at over 276 million rubles (around $4.8 mln). This week, officials from FSB’s St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region Directorate searched the organization’s office based on violations of legislation from the Russian Criminal Code "Illegal business operations," "Incitement of hatred and enmity" and "Establishment of extremist organization." Books and materials found in the office and recognized as extremist under the Russian law were confiscated and hauled away. According to the investigators, the St. Petersburg Church of Scientology is an extremist society.

Dianetics and Scientology is a religious and philosophical movement developed in the United States in the early 1950s by American science-fiction writer Lafayette Ron Hubbard. In Russia, some scientology files were included in the federal government’s list of extremism-related materials. Their storage and dissemination throughout the country’s territory is prohibited.