Scientologists vs. Pravda.Ru

Representatives of one of the largest and most notorious religious sects in the world (in fact, a dishonest commercial enterprise, as evidenced by numerous journalistic investigations and findings of commissions of various levels), the Church of Scientology of Moscow, still pursues traditional methods of showing influence on those who dare to criticize the organization.

A legal representative of Scientologists, Sergei Korzikov, uses such platforms as YouTube to censor news reports about the ruling of the Moscow City Court (upheld by the Supreme Court) about the liquidation of the Church of Scientology in Moscow.

This time, members of the movement paid attention to our publication. Following a complaint from Mr. Korzikov, Pravda.Ru received a warning from YouTube, where the Pravda.Ru video channel carries its video materials. The video about the decision of the Supreme Court to eliminate the religious organization contained only a factual message and did not have any comments in it. However, the video was banned for demonstration due to violation of "copyright."

Question: If an official representative of the liquidated church takes lies and fraudulent information as evidence, how should the society treat such an organization?

Actually, the society has already made its conclusions about the "work" of representatives of the sect. Criminal actions against critics of the sect imply not only threats, but also murder. Willing to dig for any negative information about the Hubbardist movement, its adherents do not shun the variety of methods of putting pressure on journalists, both legal and psychological ones. The sect's common practice of psycho-terror is projected into real life.

The Russian authorities view the movement of Scientologists as an organization that poses a threat to the national security of our country and represents a real danger to physical and mental health of Russian citizens. Anticipating their agony, the Scientologists have started showing tougher reactions to any criticism against them.

Pravda.Ru does not intend to leave the actions of the Scientologists against our publication without proper attention. Any attempt of censorship or pressure on their part will entail an appropriate response.

On July 19, on the basis of the complaint filed by legal representative of the Church of Scientology (the organization is banned in Moscow), Sergei Korzikov, the video channel of Pravda.Ru received a warning from YouTube.

Is this not an attempt to censor media? Pravda.Ru asked an expert opinion from lawyer and human rights activist, member of the Expert Council of the Moscow City Duma Committee for Urban Planning, State Ownership and Land Use, Sergei Selivankin, to comment on the situation.

"We live in the time when many religious movements have an open way of expressing their views. They can publish their own newspapers and magazines, and their representatives appear on television and radio. Yet, one should bear in mind the fact that in a secular state, religion is separated from the state. In a secular state, religion has no right to interfere in internal affairs of the state that touch upon both the development of the civil society and the work of journalists, who, according to their professional activity and civic duty, should be able to express their attitude to the problems that the society has to deal with," Sergei Selivankin told Pravd.Ru.

The movement of Scientology appeared in Russia in the days of the Soviet Union, during the 1980s. The movement was not related to traditional religious confessions that used to exist in the USSR at the time. For centuries, traditional faiths have identified a historical period of development of the state and the society. Religious movements like Scientology make both citizens and journalists try to understand the purpose of their activity in a certain state, the human rights activist believes.

"If members of this controversial religious movement consider it possible to show influence on civil acts, mass media and their presence on the Internet, if they believe that they can make journalists write the things that come contrary to their position, in other words - if they want to manipulate independent media, it actually means that we are going back to days of feudalism," said Sergei Selivankin.

Russia will have to step a few centuries back if the country obeys those sects. Tomorrow, they may recollect Giordano Bruno and suggest burning the journalists, who dare to bring their opinions to the general public.

"Therefore, the actions that were taken against Pravda.Ru appear to be a symptom of a very serious attack on the rights of civil society, the law of the press, the rights of ordinary citizens of Russia, who, living in a secular state, should have a full right to express their opinions about any religious confession. At the same time, it is very important to comply with the current law not to insult religious feelings, but let's not insult the feelings of our civil secular society," Sergei Selivankin said in an interview with Pravda.Ru.

In late June, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation upheld the ruling  of the Moscow City Court on the elimination of the Church of Scientology of Moscow, having thus dismissed the appeal from the organization. Therefore, the ruling is already considered as a decision that has taken legal effect.

Pravda.Ru asked first deputy chairman of the Duma Committee on Information Policy, Information Technology and Communications, Andrey Tumanov, to comment on the situation.

"In my opinion, such actions can not be referred to as correct. The material in questions was about a court ruling, and any court ruling on any issue should be publicly available. Therefore, the actions of the YouTube administration are illegal, they had no right to delete your video," Andrey Tumanov told Pravda.Ru.

According to the MP, the fact that the Supreme Court upheld the decision on the elimination of their church confirms once again that Scientologists evoke disapproval in the Russian society.

"As for YouTube itself, it is hard to influence their decisions as the owners of the video hosting service are beyond the Russian jurisdiction, so complaining about them to our prosecutor is useless. I would do a simple thing and post the information on YouTube again," Andrey Tumanov told Pravda.Ru.


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov