21 June 2016, 14:20
Searches over case of illegal activity of Church of Scientology conducted at 14 venues in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region – FSB (updated)
St. Petersburg, June 21, Interfax - Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) confirmed that its officials have conducted a number of searches in Moscow, St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region as part of the investigation of the case of illegal business activities of the Church of Scientology.
"As part of the investigation of this case the FSB officials conducted simultaneous searches at 14 premises in Moscow, St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region in offices, financial institution and housing of alleged participants in illegal activity," the press service of the department of the Russian Federal Security Service for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region said.
During the searches law enforcement officials seized items and documents proving the version of sales of goods and services provided by the organizers of the Church of Scientology of St. Petersburg in violation of statutory norms and indicating the inter-regional nature of these illegal activities, the department said.
Investigative measures continue to be conducted.
For his part, Konstantin Serov, the head of the Nevsky district administration, in the territory of which the searches have been conducted at Babushkin Street, told Interfax that local residents complained about scientologists. "Local residents filed complaints; a criminal case has been opened. Today's operative measures of law enforcement officials have been a result of both these complaints and the criminal case. The information about illegal business activities, including property fraud, has been proven true," he said.
If a court declares the scientologists' activities illegal, the organization will be evicted from the premises, Serov said. "If it is proven that they conducted criminal activity, the district administration will take any effort for this organization to be closed and their activities there to be ceased," he said.
A criminal case has been opened under the Article 'illegal entrepreneurship' on the grounds of the carrying out of business activities without registration associated with derivation of revenues in an especially large amount.
It was reported earlier with reference to a source that a number of officials of the Church of Scientology have been brought for questioning to law enforcement agencies in St. Petersburg, and their procedural status will be established following interviews. The source said that the individuals in question are not members of the congregation, whose number reached several hundred at the beginning of the search of the site at 3 Babushkin Street.