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Scientology Branch Loses License

October 8, 1999 GMT

MOSCOW (AP) _ In the latest move against a foreign religious group, a court today revoked the license of the Moscow center of the Church of Scientology because of problems with its registration papers.

Prosecutors said they began investigating the Humanitarian Hubbard Center after receiving dozens of complaints from parents about attempts to influence their children.

The license was revoked because names that appeared on the registration documents were found to have no connection to the center, officials said.

A local court today upheld city prosecutors’ decision to revoke the registration. The center was still operating, and it had 10 days to appeal the decision.

Center spokesman Alexei Danchenkov said the registration documents had been corrected in 1997 and claimed that the authorities were acting out of political reasons, The Moscow Times reported.

``These are methods of eradicating nonprofit organizations and are tied to the ongoing struggle of the Orthodox Church to re-establish its complete dominance,″ he was quoted as saying.

The Russian government passed a law in 1997 that gives courts the right to ban religious groups found guilty of inciting hatred or intolerant behavior.

The law was adopted under strong pressure from the Russian Orthodox Church, which is jealously guarding its position in Russia and is eager to see a ban on some foreign religious groups, accusing them of ``aggressive proselytism.″

The Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve problems.

Moscow authorities have also moved against the Jehovah’s Witnesses during the past year.