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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

St. Petersburg Scientologists

Five members of the St. Petersburg Church of Scientology were arrested in June 2017 and charged with organizing an extremist conspiracy, incitement of hatred and enmity, and illegal entrepreneurship. Their case is an example of Russia’s growing persecution of “non-traditional” minority religions.

Ivan Matsitsky

 

Detained Since: June 6, 2017

Charges: “Organizing an extremist conspiracy, incitement of hatred and enmity, and illegal entrepreneurship.”

Sentence: Not yet sentenced.

Biography: Ivan Matsitsky has been a Scientologist for 25 years and is the leader of the St. Petersburg Church. Once imprisoned, he was placed in cells with violent offenders who were promised shortened jail time and other benefits if they could force Ivan to confess to his charges. Ivan was forcibly exposed to harsh cold weather conditions and other abuses from his cellmates amounting to torture. Media attention to his situation contributed to his placement in a safer prison environment. Obtained prison documents allege that prison officials were planning to use electric shock torture on Ivan to gain a confession from him.

Ivan’s wife and family were not permitted to visit him until after he had been imprisoned for over a year and a half.

Russian law limits the length of pre-trial detention to three months. According to the law, Ivan should have been released on January 19, 2019. He remains behind bars.

Sahib Aliev

 

Detained Since: June 6, 2017

Charges: “Organizing an extremist conspiracy, incitement of hatred and enmity, and illegal entrepreneurship.”

Sentence: Not yet sentenced.

Biography: Sahib Aliev volunteers with and works for the St. Petersburg Church of Scientology, and served as its' chief accountant. In 2011, he joined Sea Org, a religious order where members dedicate their lives to serve the Church.

Sahib was released to house arrest on May 14, 2019.

Sahib Aliev is UNDER HOUSE ARREST.

Konstancia Esaulkova

 

Detained Since: June 6, 2017

Charges: “Organizing an extremist conspiracy, incitement of hatred and enmity, and illegal entrepreneurship.”

Sentence: Not yet sentenced.

Biography: Konstancia Esaulkova has volunteered with and worked for the St. Petersburg Church of Scientology since 2006. Her 19-year-old daughter lives with her and is financially dependent upon her.

Konstancia Esaulkova is UNDER HOUSE ARREST.

Anastasiya Terentyeva

 

Detained Since: June 6, 2017

Charges: “Organizing an extremist conspiracy, incitement of hatred and enmity, and illegal entrepreneurship.”

Sentence: Not yet sentenced.

Biography: Anastasiya Terentyeva has been a member of the Church of Scientology since 1998 and has volunteered and worked for the St. Petersburg Church during most of that time. Anastasiya was imprisoned for several months before being released to house arrest.

Anastasiya Terentyeva is UNDER HOUSE ARREST.

Galina Shurinova

 

Detained Since: June 6, 2017

Charges: “Organizing an extremist conspiracy, incitement of hatred and enmity, and illegal entrepreneurship.”

Sentence: Not yet sentenced.

Biography: Galina Shurinova has been a Scientologist for 25 years and was one of the first Scientology missionaries in Russia. She helped start the first Scientology mission in Russia in 1992, which eventually became the church in St. Petersburg. Galina was first incarcerated and then released to severe travel restrictions so that she can access necessary medical care.

Galina Shurinova is UNDER SEVERE TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS.

Advocacy Partner: U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Updates:

  • The St. Petersburg City Court has again extended detention for the Church of Scientology of St. Petersburg leader Ivan Matsitsky and the religious group’s chief accountant Sakhib Aliyev. The ruling on the detention’s extension has been issued because the defendants have not finished reading case materials yet. (April 19, 2019, Russian Legal Information Agency)
  • Sahib Aliyev was ordered released from detention and put under house arrest until August 19. However, Ivan Matsitsky's detention was extended again through this three month period. (May 14, 2019, Russian Legal Information Agency)