Scientologists are in jail in Saint Petersburg for the sole fact of practicing their faith, which Russian authorities regard as “extremist,” a charge also used against other groups. We have followed with great concern news published in the Russian media about serious irregularities in the case of Scientologist Ivan Matsitsky, who has been in jail in the last seventeen months. The FSB is being accused of fabricating evidence, and the prosecuting judge of having violated the rights of the defense by not providing Matsitsky and his attorneys with the materials of the case within the date required by the law, and by extending Matsitsky’s pre-trial detention beyond any reasonable limit.
We understand that Matsitsky’s attorney has filed complaints against both Judge Evgeny Isakov and the FSB. We urge the Russian authorities to seriously investigate the complaints, to restore Matsitsky’s right of defense, to honor their obligations under international and Russian law, and to abandon their faulty interpretation of the notion of extremism, which is used as a tool to ban unpopular religious minorities.
CAP-LC Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience
CESNUR – Center for Studies on New Religions
EIFRF European Inter-Religious Forum for Religious Freedom
FOB – European Federation for Freedom of Belief
FOREF – Forum for Religious Freedom Europe
HRWF – Human Rights Without Frontiers