Note: the following is the conclusion of a very long (5500 words) newspaper article dealing with nontraditional sects in Russia, including Scientology, Aum Shinrikyo, Jehovah's Witnesses, Children of God, Krishna Consciousness. This translation represents 1,000 words of the original.
An unanticipated blow to the antisectarian movement was delivered by USA, from where around 90 percent of the totalitarian cults have come (or are based) that now exist in the world. Back in January 1997 Washington officially condemned measures taken against Scientology in Germany.
Several days later the governmental Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (connected with American intelligence agencies) published an account of human rights where Germany was subjected to severe attack. Attacks fell on Europe one after the other while the actions of commissions created by USA included representatives of totalitarian cults themselves. There were many curious cases. For example, when the French National Assembly conducted a colloquium on methods of psychological manipulation of consciousness, the American embassy, although it had not been invited, sent to it two employees along with a highly placed French Scientologist. Considering all the data, the famous French journalist Bruno Fushero (author of the popular book "Sectarian Mafia") in his article published in June 2001 in the Monde Diplomatique journal draws the conclusion that the American government is closely tied to the sectarian lobby structures and strives with them to force other countries to accept American values through the process of globalization. "The strategy of global domination was begun in the 80's," Fushero writes, "under Reagan.
Now this struggle has reached the critical point: we are talking about attempts at globalization of juridical systems and an attempt to complete finally the globalization of the world market." Many Russian experts agree with the conclusions of the French journalist. Rostislav Prokopishin, scientific associate of the Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences: Traditional religions that by reason of historic circumstances are simply absent from USA really are powerful concentrated factors preventing the process of globalization imposed by USA. It is no secret that various cults are one of the instruments of USA's defense of its geopolitical interests. In the 80s the most active cults were selected in USA that could become weapons for the destruction of USSR. What we now observe, not only in Russia but also in Europe, could be the result of a previously devised strategy.
Strange coincidence: both in Russia and in Europe, the situation began to heat up in 1996. Just two years after the publication by the department of religious education of RPTs of Alexander Dvorkin's pamphlet "Ten questions to a stranger, or Guidance for those who do not want to be proselytized" (1994) the public Committee for the Protection of Freedom of Conscience, whose chairman is Gleb Yakunin, sued Alexander Dvorkin for slander against Scientologists, Moonites, Krishnaites, Mormons, "Bogorodichny Center," Church of Christ, "Semya" Christian mission, "Jehovah's Witnesses," and others (the pamphlet was the subject of the suit). Dvorkin provided concrete facts of the worldwide practice, although Yakunin's committee insisted, in essence, that since the Russian reputation of these organizations had still not been established Dvorkin did not have the right to slander their good name by publishing facts about their western experience. The trial lasted several months and in the end the committee's suit was denied.
On 19 September 1997 the State Duma adopted the federal law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations" and passions heated up with new force: Vasily Sarychev, a religion scholar: the law was a kind of compromise and immediately was doomed in practice. Representatives of new religious formations were disturbed that the preamble noted a special role for Orthodoxy and expressed respect for other traditional religions. Besides this, they criticized the restrictions placed on the rights of religious organizations that have been active in Russia for less than 15 years. Their intentions, of course, were legitimate since, for example, even 15 years ago half of the religious societies of the country were not registered and were not officially accounted for. Thus it was unclear how to conduct the accounting. However, in 1999 the Constitutional Court solved this problem by stating that the law does not have retroactive force, that is, those who had been registered before 1997 do not fall under these restrictions.
On the whole I will say that a recognition of the special role of traditional religions exists in the majority of secular states of Europe. As regards the 15-year term, this practice exists in Europe, too. At the same time, representatives of traditional religions are upset that the law does not proscribe certain sects or destructive cults and that there were no mechanisms established for protecting the population from the activity of these cults. The law was passed so that it could subsequently be amended, and this process is going on.
The interests of the new religious associations in our country have been openly defended by the Moscow Helsinki group and similar rights' defense organizations, whose reports often are quoted with pleasure by commissions of USA, and particular on of the lobbies of this side, the Institute of Religion and Law. These same associations defend the interests of traditional religious associations.
Sarychev has the following in view. In the summer of this year "Nezavisimaia gazeta" suddenly published two alternative versions of a doctrine of state policy in the sphere of relations with religious associations in Russia. Usually the appearance of such doctrines signifies approaching changes in legislation, although, as we have managed to learn, no such specific direction for the creation of such doctrines had been issued by the presidential administration.
One doctrine, prepared by the Institute of State-Confessional Relations and the Chief Directorate of the Russian Ministry of Justice for Moscow, was drawn up taking into account opinions of representatives of traditional religions. The other, prepared by the Department of Religion Studies of the Russian Academy of State Services of the Russian presidential administration, was drawn up on the principle of the equality of traditional and nontraditional confessions, and even proposed a way to adapt to new religious movements. The lineup of forces for supporting one or another of these doctrines was natural and it has not changed; the struggle simply has become open, in the press. However it seems that the process has advanced to a new level. At the end of September the supreme mufti of Russia, Talgat Tajuddin, at a meeting with Putin personally delivered the Justice draft accompanied by a letter in which he asked for support for this draft.
But it cannot be ruled out that specific pressure has been exerted from another side, the prosectarian. After all just a month earlier there was published the government's resolution "On a federal program for formation of a system of tolerant awareness and prevention of extremism in Russian society," which includes as one of its points "participation in international actions and programs for creating tolerance under the aegis of UNESCO and other international organizations." We recall that it was UNESCO (on which USA's influence is very great) declared 1991 to be the year of Elena Blavatskaia. And on 29 October in the "Kosmos" hotel" there was a conference "Toleration in contemporary society: spirituality as a way to mutual accord," which was organized by the Moscow Helsinki Group, the office of the plenipotentiary for human rights of the Russian federation, the Institute of Religion and Law, and the church of Scientology of the city of Moscow.