Court upholds Russian Justice Ministry notices to Moscow Church of Scientology

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Translation of a Russian article posted on August 20, 2013 on the website of RAPSI (Russian Agency for Legal and Judicial Information):
http://rapsinews.ru/incident_news/20130820/268603012.html
Court affirms legality of notices issued to the Church of Scientology of Moscow

The Moscow City Court today affirmed the legality of notices issued by the Justice Ministry to the Church of Scientology of Moscow for issues related to charter violations, trademarks, and the name given to assemblies of its members.

The ministry's first complaint concerned the church's registration as a religious organization, even though Scientology is not a religion, but a registered trademark. "The Justice Ministry's Expert Council for State Religious Expertise did not recognize the religious nature of this organization's activities," said the ministry's attorney during the hearing.

The Justice Ministry also found a violation in the fact that the general assembly of members was called a "participants meeting" to avoid using the term "members." In addition, the Church of Scientology of Moscow was paying rent to Scientologists in St. Petersburg, even though, by law, it cannot reach beyond the territorial limits in which it operates, even if it were a charity.

The ministry also contends that the church must re-register its 1994 charter. The appellant explained that the re-registration documents had been filed eleven times, but the ministry refused to accept them each time.

"In this process, legal casuistry is being marshalled against freedom of speech," said Galina Krylova, one of the appellant's lawyers, asserting that the Justice Ministry is abusing the rights granted by law. "I understand that, for Russia, Scientology is unusual, unfamiliar, and perhaps even unpopular, but the state entrusts the Justice Ministry to protect freedom of conscience," she said.

The Church of Scientology's attorneys pointed out that many religious organizations, for example the Seventh-Day Adventists or the Franciscans, are registered as a trademark, but this does not prevent them from being recognized as specifically religious associations.
 
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mnql1

Patron Meritorious
Translation of a Russian article posted on August 20, 2013 on the website of the ITAR-TASS news agency:
http://www.itar-tass.com/c1/847006.html
Court affirms the legality of a notice of infractions issued to the Church of Scientology of Moscow

Moscow, August 20. (ITAR-TASS) The Moscow City Court today affirmed the legality of a notice issued by the Justice Ministry's Chief Directorate in Moscow to the Church of Scientology of Moscow concerning infractions related to its operation.

"The verdict rendered today by the Moscow City Court upholds the decision of the Gagarinsky District Court in Moscow affirming the legality of a notice issued to the Church of Scientology of Moscow following a routine audit. The notice was issued after serious violations of Russian legislation were found in the activity of this organization," said a ministry official.

Federal Law on Freedom of Conscience

In particular, the court agreed with the arguments of the Justice Ministry that the organization's charter does not meet the requirements of the federal Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations, and that its appellation contains no indication regarding its type of legal entity and religious denomination. Contrary to the prescriptions of the law, the organization's activity extends to the territory of Saint Petersburg, outside the boundaries of the territorial range of operation defined in its charter - the city of Moscow. It was also learned that the organization made an unauthorized expenditure of more than 68 million rubles [over 2 million US dollars].

During the audit, it was found that the word "Scientology" was registered as a trademark whose rightsholder is the Religious Technology Center in the USA. The concurrent use of this word as the name of a religious denomination restricts the rights of third parties, an arrangement prohibited by the Russian Constitution, which guarantees everyone freedom of conscience and religion.

Religious expertise

The Justice Ministry also decided to have its Expert Council for State Religious Expertise review the organization.

The Church of Scientology had earlier challenged the government's authority to order expert analysis of religious matters before the Supreme Court of Russia, which rejected the motion. The Supreme Court's appeals chamber upheld this decision without any change and the appeal was dismissed.

Today's decision by the Moscow City Court upholds the decision of the Gagarinsky District Court in Moscow to reject the complaint by the "Management Center for the Dissemination of Dianetics and Scientology" regarding the notice it received from the Justice Ministry following an audit.

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In 2012, Hollywood was abuzz over the divorce of the seemingly solid and successful star couple of actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

In the world of celebrities, the divorce is rumored to have been caused by a religion, namely Scientology, in which Tom Cruise is totally wrapped up. According to friends of the couple, Katie never really shared his passion, but she tried to live with it for several years.
 
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