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    Scientologists Profited From $53 Million in 'Donations' Made in Russia in Years

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    The Church of Scientology could have extracted about 3 billion rubles (over $53 million) in donations made to its Moscow and St. Petersburg branches, Russian media report.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – On Wednesday, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) conducted a search at a branch office of the Church of Scientology in the Moscow region, which had been operating without a license, according to investigators.

    The Russian Izvestia newspaper reported on Friday citing expert sources, that documents seized during the search suggest that in the past three years, the Church of Scientology brought in to the United States about 3 billion rubles in "donations" made in Russia.

    In June 2016, the Supreme Court of Russia upheld a lower court ruling to ban the Church of Scientology in Moscow. Shortly before that, the FSB searched the Church of Scientology Moscow and St. Petersburg offices in connection with a criminal investigation into the organization’s suspected illegal business activities.

    In late 2015, a Moscow court banned the local branch of the church on grounds of non-compliance with the federal law on the freedom of religion.

    The Church of Scientology was founded by L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s in the US state of New Jersey. The current international headquarters are located in California. The church has been accused of being a cult and a commercial enterprise and its members have been convicted of fraud, manslaughter and other offenses.

    The Church of Scientology is officially recognized as a religion in some countries, such as the United States and Switzerland, while other states, including France, classify it as a cult.

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    profit, scientology, Moscow, Russia
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