Russia moves to ban 'undesirable' Church of Scientology groups

·1 min read

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia declared two organisations linked to the Church of Scientology "undesirable" on Friday, paving the way for the group to be formally banned.

The Prosecutor General's Office said the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises International and the Church of Spiritual Technology, which are both based in California, were "a threat to the security of the Russian Federation".

Russia has banned more than a dozen foreign groups under legislation against undesirable organisations, adopted in 2015. Under the law, groups are typically first labelled undesirable and then formally banned by the Justice Ministry.

Russian authorities have moved against the Church of Scientology in the past. In 2016, the Supreme Court ordered the closure of the group's Moscow branch. The Justice Ministry has also declared some of the group's literature extremist.

Scientology was founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, and describes itself as a religion.

The group's critics say it is a cult and have accused Scientologists of harassing people who seek to quit. The church denies such allegations.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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