Authorities acknowledge mistake in arresting suspected sectarians


Interfax-Religiia, 6 April 2016


Citizens who were arrested on Tuesday in Moscow and St. Petersburg on suspicion of participation in the banned religious sect Aum Shinrikyo were released. It was determined that they were united by the love of yoga only, a source in law enforcement agencies told Interfax on Wednesday.


"Early this week in both capitals approximately 30 persons were arrested who were investigated for adherence to the activity of the Aum Shinrikyo association, which is prohibited in the Russian federation. However after questioning, they all were released to go home," the news agency's interlocutor said. He said that all these people, who were originally thought to be devotees of the odious sect, engaged together in yoga.


On 5 April, the MVD of the RF reported that searches had been conducted in homes of leaders and followers of the Aum Shinrikyo religious association at 11 addresses in Moscow and 14 in St. Petersburg.


An official representative of the Investigation Committee of Russia, Vladimir Markin, in his turn reported that law enforcement agencies and special services of the RF conducted searches in Moscow and St. Petersburg whose goal was to identify persons who may be involved in the activity of the Aum Shinrikyo sect, which is banned in Russia.


"The main investigative directorate of the Investigation Committee opened a criminal case on the charge of creating an association whose activity is accompanied by violence against citizens and other causes of harm to health (part 1, article 239 Criminal Code of RF)," V. Markin said.


"The organizers of this association used physical and psychological pressure on citizens in order that they would make contributions and turn over their property," the representative of the Investigation Committee said.


"In the period from 2012 to 2014 the illegal activity of the group Aum Shinrikyo was carried out using the global telecommunications network Internet for fund raising," V. Markin explained.


Aum Shinrikyo is a syncretic religious extremist sect founded by Shoko Asahara. Aum Shinrikyo received worldwide attention after a terrorist act in the Tokyo subway on 20 March 1995. At that time, during five coordinated attacks, terrorists sprayed the poison gas sarin. As a result, 13 persons died and about 6,000 were injured.


Twelve members of the sect, including S. Asahara, were later sentenced to death. In all, 189 representatives of Aum Shinrikyo were charged in this case.


The organization is included in the Consolidated List of Terrorist and Extremist Organizations, whose activity is prohibited on the territory of the member states of the  Collective Security Treaty Organization, of which Russia is a member. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 April 2016)


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