Europe rights case against Russia
authorities had rejected the registration of two Scientology churches
on the basis of legislation that demands that a religious group must
exist for at least 15 years in a Russian region and prove that it is
affiliated to a central religious organization.
Strasbourg -- The
European Court of Human Rights on Thursday
condemned Russia for the second time in two years for refusing to
register two Scientology churches as religious organizations.
The Church of Scientology was awarded 5,000 euros (7,250 dollars) in
The court ruled that the action of the authorities in Surgut in eastern
Siberia and Nizhnekamsk in Tatarstan had violated articles nine and 11
of the Human Rights convention on freedom of religion and freedom of
Russian authorities rejected the registration of the churches in 1994
and 1998 on the basis of legislation which demands that a religious
group has to have existed for at least 15 years in a Russian region and
prove that it is affiliated to a central religious organisation.
"The Court noted that the question of whether Scientology could be
described as a 'religion' was a matter of controversy among the member
states," said the ruling.
In the absence of any European consensus on the religious nature of
Scientology, the court said it had "to rely on the position of the
It added: "At no point in the proceedings had it been shown that the
applicants -- either as individuals or as a religious group -- had
engaged or intended to engage in any unlawful activities or pursued any
aims other than worship, teaching, practice and observance of their
beliefs. The ground for refusing registration had therefore been purely
formal and unconnected with their actual functioning."
In April 2007, the court found against Russia over the refusal of
authorities to register the Moscow branch of the Scientologists between
1998 and 2005.