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SPECIAL REPORT: Saving petroleum... from Scientologists. Spy fears connected with ban of religious books in the petroleum and gas capital of Russia

The story began over two years ago, in March 2008, when several parcels came to the Surgut central post office (the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District of Russia) from "FLAG SERVICE ORGANIZATION", one of organizations of the Church of Scientology. The sets of basics of the Scientology teaching were addressed to local citizens who are a part of a Scientology religious group (their organization, or Church, is refused registration by local authorities). However Scientologists did not manage to get their parcels. The Surgut customs took the parcels to its storehouse.

First the problem did not have a  religious aspect . Customs officers suspected that under the guise of a charity a commercial shipping came on which a proper duty should be levied. The parcels were sent to Khanty-Mansiysk for expert opinion, and Nikolay Matviychuk, the head of the local church district of the Russian Orthodox Church, and Galina Vydrina, councilor of the governor, who deals with District s religious policy inclusively, learnt about the parcels quickly. Both archpriest Nikolay and Mrs. Vydrina are well-known in the District as strong opponents of  sects , first of all of Scientology, which had been furiously denounced by professor Dvorkin specially invited to the District.

Galina Vydrina enlightened the customs officers on the true subversive nature of the  pseudo-religious stupefying drug . The Surgut transport prosecutor office got into the case, which suspected  extremism  in the Scientology books, and in its spread in the petroleum and gas capital of Russia a threat to the mainstay industry of Russia. The customs office handed the parcels over to the transport prosecutor office, from where only in September that Scientologists got an answer to their numerous requests. In this reply, long before the decision of the Surgut City Court of March 26, 2010, which will be told about below, the seized literature was announced  having extremist character &

Soon the transport prosecutor office filed a suit into the Surgut City Court, demanding that the Scientology  Basics  (the compound of writings and lectures by Ron Hubbard, the founder of the religious school) be recognized  having extremist character . Learning this, the addressees and later the American publisher tried to get into the case, indicating that it deals with their interests directly. However for one year and a half, while the process was conducted, the Scientologists were not allowed into the proceedings.

Despite that, first Judge Anufrikov was trying to sort out the case independently, rejecting the initial expert opinion of Vydrina and turning to the chair of the clinical psychology (sic!) of the Surgut State University for another expert opinion. In December 2008 the specialists of the chair, citing the reason of absence of payment, refused to give their expert opinion and Judge Anufrikov suddenly retired and left Surgut.

In the middle of February 2009 the case was transferred to Judge Pavel Shkilev, deputy chairman of the Surgut City Court, who conducted the proceedings to their logical conclusion in March 2010. The prosecution was represented by Vadim Lvov, assistant of the transport prosecutor of Surgut, with the surveillance of Irina Shiryayeva, senior assistant of the Surgut transport prosecutor. The general supervision was conducted by deputy transport prosecutor Nikolay Shiyrayev (supposedly Irina s husband).

Initially the case went not too fast. As a TV news speaker of SurgutInformTV stated in February 2009 quoting sources of the prosecutor office,  the literature will be hardly recognized extremist one. Most probably, Surgut experts will tell their traditional opinion on its level of quality.  The key part in the activation of the process was played by Galina Vydrina, councilor of the governor, who closely cooperates with  expert on sects  Alexander Dvorkin. The councilor does not conceal its Orthodox convictions. For instance, in May 2010 Vydrina presented the stand of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District at the  Orthodox Russia  exhibition that was held in the Manйge Hall in Moscow. The stand prepared by the District s administration had the name  Orthodox Resurrection and Succession of Generations . Vydrina handed in a picture book with a report on the work done towards the resurrection of Orthodox parishes and opposition to sectarianism to Patriarch Cyril and President Medvedev s wife Svetlana Medvedeva.

In his interview to Surgut newspaper V Tsentre Sobytiy (In the Midst of the Events), Dvorkin told that he had regularly  studied which sects act in the autonomous district  starting from 1999. He says that his main partner in the District is Nikolay Matviychuk, archpriest of the Temple of Saint Spirit. The Tyumen-Tobolsk diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church characterizes Matviychuk as an active combatant against  sects , having several church and community awards for this. The archpriest has a great influence upon the authorities of the diocese.

In the above interview Dvorkin told that Scientologists are one of the  most dangerous  and active  sects  in the District. He said,  Many a cult is registered in Russia as pubic funds and seem to behave correspondently. Scientologists work under the guise of public  Dianetics Centers , Narconon and Criminon drug rehabilitation centers, Studemo educational centers, Hubbard Humanitarian Center.  The Spiritual Resurrection of Yugra, the site edited by Galina Vydrina, which is financed from the District s budget and placed at the official server of the administration of the autonomous district, contains a special  anti-sectarian  chapter, where anti-Scientology materials have been published for many years. Active propagation of the Russian Orthodox Church is being given on the same site, associated with Russian State authorities. On requests of Vydrina District s authorities allocate large budget finance for shooting TV shows and movies on the Orthodox faith, realizing  programs for patriotic upbringing, strengthening spiritual values of the youth through studying the inseparable connection in the history of the State and the Orthodoxy, Biblical hours with priests  (a quote from the report of Galina Vydrina). Under her guidance and for budget money the Slav Progression missionary expedition is conducted, whereby Orthodox priests perform rites in remote areas of the District, as well as expose  sects  using instruction guides by Dvorkin.

The issue of combating  sectarianism  and denunciation of Scientology in particular is a constant part of annual Cyril and Mefodius readings, which are held in Khanty-Mansiysk City in spring, with official sponsorship of the United Russia political party. Also in February, after All-Russia Christmas readings, regional Christmas readings are held in Khanty-Mansiysk City. Galina Vydrina and other local Orthodox activists tell about the program and the results of the Christmas readings in Moscow. A series of topics and round tables is set up, corresponding to Moscow programs, including the  anti-sectarian  topics. 120 to 150 people participate in the readings, mainly teachers who are invited to the city and hosted in the City at the State expense.

Once during a personal talk Galina Vydrina confided that considered Scientologists a criminal organization which poses danger to the authorities and the country s security.  The ban on Scientologists  was a matter of their principles, as, from some Moscow experts, they had adopted the belief that Scientologists wanted to penetrate Surgutneftegaz and Gazprom strategic installations.

So, in April 2009 the detained literature again got to Galina Vydrina. Evgeny Volkov, a well-known  sect expert , assistant professor of the Higher School of Economics, and Marina Belyakova, the director of the Institute of the Manuscripts and Old Printing Books, were chosen for the expert opinion. On 26 March, 2010 based on the expert opinion Surgut City Court delivered a decision on announcing the Scientology literature to be extremist one. The court decision contains lawfully incorrect formulas, such as  citizens of Surgut City . On 1 May 2010 Surgut City Court placed a press release on the outcome of the case on its official website. The press release contains a peculiar motive for the decision: it [the literature]  undermines traditional spiritual basis of life of citizens of the Russian Federation.  The Court also announced that Hubbard s writings contained  ideas justifying violence as such and any means of counteraction to critics of Scientology in particular. They contain both apparent and hidden calls for social and religious strife, the propaganda of the exclusiveness, superiority or deficiency of individuals on the basis of their social or religious identity or of their attitude to religion; calls for preventing the bodies of state power, court and law enforcement bodies in particular in their activities, for committing crimes on the basis of ideological or racial hatred.  The press release does not contain any quotes or references.

Letters coming to the Administration of the District and the prosecutor s office from archpriest Nicholay Matviychuk and representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church influenced the case proceedings significantly. The organizers of the proceedings learnt beforehand that on 8 March 2010 the European Court on Human Rights may adopt a decision obliging Russian authorities to register the religious organization of Scientologists in Surgut, which they decided to prevent with another court decision. On the proposal of Nikolay Matviychuk and Petr Egorov, mufti Tagir Samatov, the chair of the regional spiritual board of the Muslims of the Khanty-Mansi (Yugra) Autonomous District wrote his letter  against Scientology  too.

The mainstay organization in Surgut is Surgutneftegaz Open Joint Stock Company, that holds 7th place in revenues in Russia (2009 data); its head is tycoon Vladimir Bogdanov, who, according to Forbes, holds 158th place among the richest people in the world. Surgutneftegaz is a key asset of Russian prime-minister Vladimir Putin, as a major part of the petroleum extracted by Surgutneftegaz is exported by Swiss petroleum trader Gunvor that belongs to Putin s friend Gennady Timchenko. Therefore a part of the profit is accumulated on the accounts of Gunvor. At the same time Surgutneftegaz is one of the largest blue chips of Russia, whose beneficiary owners are not known.

It is common knowledge that people tend to exaggerate their fears. Somebody really got to believe in dangers of sectarian penetration into the strategic company, with the repute of Scientologists created by works of Mr. Dvorkin providing for acceptance of any  spy  versions&

Alexey Malyutin,
Surgut - Khanty-Mansiysk - Moscow,
for Portal-Credo.ru

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