by attorney Galina A.Krylova (a series of articles published in Russian in the "Independent Psychiatric Journal", translated by the author)
Update: CARP Students Win Unexpected Legal Victory in Russia, by Jeff Tallakson (from an Unification Church's mailing list)
CESNUR's Note: Galina A. Krylova is a leading Russian attorney, specialized in religious freedom cases. These articles, published in the "Independent Psychiatric Journal", reflect each the situation at the date of its writing. They serve as a sort of ongoing journal by a lawyer struggling (ultimately, with some success) with a legal system heavily influenced by anti-cult activities and literature. They also emphasize the rather cavalier use of Western brainwashing arguments by Russian anti-cultists.
I. Anti-Cultists vs. CARP
Inspired with their easy success and the courts complete agreement with their claims against Aum Shinri-kyo, the anti-cult committees in Russia have decided not to content themselves with their achievements but to consolidate their success.
Events moved rapidly. On 18 April 1995, the Court of First Instance delivered a verdict to liquidate Aum Shinri-kyo and ordered it to pay the Committee for Salvation of Youth from Totalitarian Sects 20 billion roubles in damages for harm to the health of its believers resulting from Aums activity. On 19 June 1995, the Court of Appeal, after considering this verdict, found no reason to rescind or change it and it was affirmed. And, on 21 July 1995 - just a month later - a similar claim was filed with Dzerjynsky Peoples Court of St. Petersburg. The claim was lodged by the Committee for the Protection of Family and Personality and required to liquidate the Collegiate Association for the Research of the Principles (CARP, based on the Unification Churchs philosophy) and to order the Association to pay the Committee 20 billion roubles as damages to compensate the Associations "victims" for inflicted harm.
A Bit of History
The Unification Church was incorporated in Russia on 21 May 1992 and spread its activity to a considerable degree. Besides the Church, there were several other public organisations incorporated and operating, that had no religious status but oriented themselves to the teaching of Rev. Sun Myung Moon. One of these organisations was the St. Petersburg Collegiate Association for the Research of the Principles (CARP).
According to its Charter, recognized by the Justice Administration of the Mayors Office of St. Petersburg on 9 December 1991, the Association was organized to study, promote and fulfil the ideas of the teaching of the (Divine) Principle. The nearness to God was of special importance amongst its other proclaimed values. The Charter stated that the Association might prepare and carry out educational programs and seminars, charitable activity, etc. These provisions of the basic document, that specified the organizations work, did not raise any objection by the Justice Administration. Nor did the Associations activity - for a long time.
Its of no surprise that the activity stated by the Charter furthered the process of turning some part of CARPs members to religion. While religious activity, according to the laws, has been allowed to be performed without the incorporation of a legal person, the believers chose to establish a legal entity and, on 31 October 1994, drafted the Charter of the St. Petersburg affiliate of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity - the Unification Church.
Meanwhile the attitude of Russian society towards new religion movements had changed considerably. The reaction of the St Petersburg authorities was immediate. Nine days after recognition of the Charter, the Justice Administration of St. Petersburg warned the leader of CARP that there would be no tolerance for violations of the law. To the officials, the specific violations consisted of the promotion, by the leaders and activists of CARP, of that which "pursued the aim to involve citizens - first of all, the youth - in religious activity," or to spread their beliefs by means of lectures, seminars, and missionary activity connected with the holding of services.
The authorities did not seem to be embarrassed that the Act of Freedom of Religions declared the right of any person to choose, have, and promote religious beliefs, and freely perform religious rituals and ceremonies as well. The International Civil and Political Rights Pact (Article 18) declares the right of a person to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the right to have or adopt a religion or beliefs on ones own; the right to preach ones religion and beliefs both personally and in co-operation with others and in public or private way; the right to worship, perform religious and ritual ceremonies, and practice a religious teaching. Freedom of religion, including the right of a person to freely choose, have, promote, and practice religious beliefs, including organization of religious association, is also guaranteed by the Russian Constitution.
The authorities had not considered this case thoroughly. As the Charter recognized by them stated the study of the Principle - a teaching religious in essence, - it was absurd to assume that all members of CARP would be either atheists or believers of other religions, and that no one would turn to the teaching of Unification Church.
Thus, it was the authorities who had violated the law. The members of CARP might hold services, choose, have, and promote their religious beliefs because their legal right was secure in the principles of freedom of religion and it was not allowed to limit anyone in exercising these rights.
On 16 February 1995, the religious association of the St. Petersburg affiliate of the Unification Church filed with the Justice Administration of the Mayors Office of St. Petersburg a petition to recognize the founding documents.
According to the Rules of Recognition of the Charters of Religious Associations of 8 June 1994 sanctioned by the Order of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, such a petition was to be considered within a month after its filing.
However, the Chairperson of the Board of the St. Petersburg affiliate of the Unification Church only received a reply from the Deputy Director of the Justice Administration six months later. The reply noted that the documents had been sent to the Expert Advisory Council at the State Duma [Parliament] of Russia. (Later, still having not sent them to the Council, the Justice Administration rejected the petition to incorporate the affiliate of Unification Church; among the grounds the pending trial against CARP was mentioned).
The Claim of the Committee
On the same day, 21 July 1995, the Committee for the Protection of Family and Personality filed a claim with Dzerjynsky Peoples Court of St. Petersburg to liquidate CARP, as an organization that systematically violated its Charter in its work, and to order CARP to pay the Committee for the Protection of Family and Personality 20 billion roubles as damages to compensate CARPs "victims" for inflicted harm.
The claim stated that CARP, which was, in fact, a religious sect or cult, destroyed the psychological foundations of human personality, family, and society, by means of mind manipulation of the believers; forced a set of unnatural moral and ethic requirements that were alien to native Russian psychosocial background. It was further claimed that, also by means of restrictions on sleep and nutrition, extensive monotonous work deteriorated the mental and physical health of CARPs members, limited their mental development; and finally that the activity of CARP had added to exacerbation of the demographic conditions, and even worsened the nations stock.
The absurdity of such statements is so evident that they could hardly be the subject of a trial. Nevertheless, in violation of civil law, the claim, far-fetched and unfounded as it was, was not rejected.
First, the Committee for the Protection of Family and Personality had no right to demand either liquidation or reimbursement for harm.
According to the Civil Code of Russia, Part 3, Article 61, a claim to liquidate a legal person may be filed with a court by a state agency or an institution of the local government, that are granted the right to file such a claim. According to the Federal Act of Public Associations of 14 April 1995, Article 44, a claim to liquidate a local public organization is to be filed by the prosecutor of the corresponding subject of the Russian Federation. The right to be compensated for harm to mental and physical health is granted only to the subjects of violations, that is specific natural persons, victims.
The Committee had no legal interest in the case, that is its action dealt with the protection of other persons rights. This, according to the Civil Code of RSFSR, Article 129, Paragraph 1, should have entailed rejection of the claim. If the court found that the Committee came out to protect other persons rights and did not reject the claim in violation of the above provision, then, according to the Civil Code of RSFSR, Part 2, Article 33, the court ought to have informed the "victims" that this prosecution had been instituted and it should have had them involved in the case as plaintiffs. For two years, CARP has demanded that the "victims" should appear at the trial, but the court not only repeatedly found it unnecessary to comply with such requirements, based on the Prosecutors conclusion, but refused to consider it at all.
In spite of requirements as to the content of a claim set by the Civil Code of RSFSR, Article 126, the Committee did not point out either specific circumstances as a basis of its demands or evidence that supported them or list documents that backed up the position of the plaintiff. Its evident to any sensible individual - not only to a jurist - that loud announcements about exacerbation of the demographic conditions in the country and worsening of the nation stock and the like may not be considered either as circumstances substantiating a claim or as evidence in a civil case. The claim did not specify who, when, and under which circumstances suffered from CARPs activity; specifically what constituted damage supposedly inflicted on the mental and physical health of unknown persons; specifically from what aftermath to their health the persons involved in the work of CARP suffered. Accordingly, there was no medical evidence given that concrete harm was done to a concrete person. There were no findings of medical examinations on victims, certificates from medical institutions, the findings of expert forensic committees, etc., that stated the dangerousness of traumas (mental and physical) and prescribed treatment. The subjects of allegedly violated rights, victims, were depersonalized: there is still no list of victims provided who supposedly suffered from the actions of CARP, their circle hasnt been defined. The natural persons who are members of CARP, V.N.Babkin, E.V.Russkikh, O.A.Stepanova, I.O.Nalimova, and whose names were given in the claim, are adult and competent and not only havent submitted such claims but categorically object to them.
The claim amount of 20 billion roubles is unsubstantiated and unfounded: the claim contains no references as to who, on what specifically and for whose benefit, will the award be spent. It gives no cost of care for specific victims, no cost of their additional nourishment, no cost of resort treatment course, no extent of inflicted professional disability, etc.
Why am I discussing the short-comings of the claim in such detail? They look to be evident. It is to give the reader an opportunity to judge how courts themselves ignore the law and neglect human rights.
This claim was patterned after the claim to liquidate Aum Shinri-kyo - the self-same accusations of mind manipulation, allegation of caused harm, and the claim amount of 20 billion roubles.
Based on the claim of the Committee for the Protection of Family and Personality, the court instituted legal proceedings, and, on 30 November 1995, the Justice Administration refused to recognize the Charter of the religious organization. Among the grounds, there was a reference to the legal proceedings against CARP (the claim of the Committee for the Protection of Family and Personality) and the impossibility "to grasp the idea of the dogmas, worship, and missionary activity of the St. Petersburg affiliate of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity - Unification Church and to recognize the above organization as a religious one." The rejection became the subject of an appeal, but the court of appeal hasnt considered it as yet.
CARP submitted to the court a very blunt opinion about the claim, pointing out that it was preposterous and the demands in it were illegal. After having acquainted itself with this opinion, the Committee for the Protection of Family and Personality filed a new claim repeating its far-fetched allegations against CARP and demanding 20 billion roubles more as compensation for moral damage to the parents of CARPs members who are on the Committee for the Protection of Family and Personality, namely N.V.Babkina, N.K.Russkikh, and E.V.Chernickova. According to the new claim, it was the estimated equivalent (in financial terms) of "the personal non-material rights and all belonging to them, as being parents and members of families, non-material welfare that connect to their parenthood, families and family relationship." The claim also stated that CARP prevented the state of Russia to carry out its main constitutional duty - to observe and protect the citizens rights and liberties - thus encroaching on the foundation of the constitutional order. Of course, the claim hadnt specified the way how an organization of less than 100 people could prevent the state of Russia from carrying out its main constitutional duty.
At the same time, an identical claim was filed by the Inter-regional Committee for Salvage from Totalitarian Sects - it was signed by N.K.Russkikh, its Chairperson and a member of the Committee for the Protection of Family and Personality - with the Peoples Court that demanded to order CARP to pay the same people 20 billion roubles (N.K.Russkikh was among the proposed recipients).
The total of the three claims had amounted to 60 billion roubles.
While the jurists set in authority did not admit that the committees had no right to file claims to liquidate CARP, they paid attention to the problem. Then came the time for heavy artillery.
On 15 January 1996, the Justice Administration of St. Petersburg lodged a claim to put a stop to CARPs work. All the claims - those of the Committee for the Protection of Family and Personality, the Inter-regional Committee for Salvage from Totalitarian Sects, and the Justice Administrations - have been merged into one legal case. Thus there have been the three plaintiffs with claims against CARP.
It was evident to jurists and understood by officials from the Justice Administration that in accordance with the Russian laws all these committees had no right granted by the law to file such claims with a court. Moreover, the evident preposterousness of their claims suggested that they had a vague notion about legal technicalities and it was very unlikely that they could back up the claims. This seems to be the reason why caused the Justice Administration, that had heretofore assumed a formally neutral position as a third party at the trial, to file its own claim.
The claim enclosed a note about an inquiry into CARPs activity and a warning that resulted from the findings. In addition to the above allegations of religious activity against CARP, the note also pointed out that, "it follows from the findings of psychologists that the activity of organisations that use in their work the teaching of S.M.Moon is connected with structural deformation of human personality and entails special psychological, psychiatric and social readjustment, and such organisations manifest the signs of destructive cults." The note said that it was necessary "to appoint experts to do an official psychological examination," but before its scheduling the note already concluded, "CARP systematically violates the Russian Constitution (Par.2, Art.17 and Par.1.2, Art.38), The International Civil and Political Rights Pact (Part 3, Art.18), and The Childs Rights Convention (Part 1, Art.9), transforming the values of CARPs members by means of an especial psychological influence."
Doing its best to support the committees, the Justice Administration overlooked the fact that the Federal Act of Public Associations in its Article 42 stipulated that a Justice Administration might submit a claim with a court to stop the activity of a public association after two warnings in writing, if the warnings did not become the subject of an appeal and as long as a court found them to be legal. CARP filed an appeal against the warning of the Justice Administration with the Octyabrskiy Federal Court of St. Petersburg, thus the claim of the Justice Administration was a premature action.
Facing the vigorous protest of the CARPs representatives against the claims, the court closed the session and put off the hearings, having not started to consider the substance of the case.
Now the Prosecutors Office, that had taken a formally neutral position up to that time, filed a claim with the court to liquidate CARP; the Office grounded its demands by citing the self-same findings of the Justice Administrations inquiry into CARPs activity and repeating the accusations that CARP performed religious activity. Naturally, the claim contained no trace of the fact that some members of CARP had been trying to have the St. Petersburg affiliate of Unification Church recognized in a formal way for a long time, that the Justice Administration afforded itself to take the approach of red tape and procrastination when refused to recognize the affiliate, and that the appeal against the refusal was not considered in due terms.
Finally, having overcome the formal obstacles, on 26 April 1996, that is more than nine months after the submission of the first claim, the court tried to resume the hearings.
The Direction of the Main Attack
As the court found it possible to institute legal proceeding based on the claims of the Committees, which named parents of CARPs members and their children as victims of physical and mental abuse, the attorneys of CARP, in accordance with the Civil Code of RSFSR, Article 33, tried to have the named persons participate in the trial as plaintiffs. Article 33 states that the person, on whose behalf the action has been instituted by a prosecutor or another organization that has the legal right to file a claim to protect other persons rights and interests, is to take part as plaintiff in the trial initiated. Of course, the court rejected the petitions to have these persons participate in the trial, as it was clear to everybody that the adult and competent children did not share the viewpoint of their parents, who were members of the Committee, and would refuse to be held as victims, and, therefore, would withdraw the claim as well. The court had no legal right to have ignored this. As to the parents, they were involved in the case as third parties, as otherwise the court in its verdict should have specified who specifically would be recipients of the amount claimed; it would have cast a shadow of doubt on the desire of the committees to be sole recipients. This position of the court was not based on the law and this was pointed out by the CARPs attorneys.
Having considered the above petitions, the court went on to read out the claim of the Committee for the Protection of Family and Personality and to hear V.A.Rychkovas [the Chairperson of this Committee] elucidations. In her passionate speech, she exposed "an act of hostility by the foreign interventionist," (i.e. the Unification Churchs missionaries), and drew the courts attention to "the especial threat to the society posed by the organization that possesses a psychological weapon" and wittingly caused harm to human health. She also mentioned the methods: zombieing, implanting with ideas, reform of thinking process. To Rychkova, as a result of their application CARPs members had become psychologically, mentally and socially incapable. She recommended deprogramming as treatment.
Virtually, the Chairperson did not answer any of the CARP attorney's concrete questions. She failed to substantiate the claim amount. Neither did she explain why she held the parents to be victims, while not considering their children, members of CARP, as such (the parents had not undergone "zombieing," as opposed to the children). She also did not explain who would be the recipient(s) of the award and on what purposes it should be spent. V.A.Rychkova failed to give any specific fact of CARPs violation of any law provisions. Nor did she provide any medical certificate supporting the claim allegations of the deterioration of the physical and mental health of CARPs members. Responding to repeated inquiries to try to substantiate somehow the claim amounts of the two claims of 40 billion roubles in total, the professional fighter against non-traditional religions began to tell about upsetting thoughts "that haunted distressed parents," when their children were taking a great interest in a teaching that is alien to Russian spirit.
Of course, the claim, which its author failed to clarify, sounded more impressive: "The activity of the organization - which is, in fact, a religious sect - results in destruction, through sectarian mind's manipulation, of the psychological foundation of human personality, and therefore that of family and social mediums; in harsh implanting with a set of unnatural moral and ethic requirements that are alien to the native psychosocial background of Russians and the real conditions of life in Russia; in creating and maintaining the state of excessive mental tension connected to the promotion of the inevitability of World War III and the end of the world thereby leading to neuroses, bouts of derangement, exacerbation of the demographic conditions in the country, and worsening of the national stock."
The questions of the CARPs attorneys made V.A.Rychkova and, perhaps, the court understand that the claims wanted at least minimal grounding. The Chairperson of the Committee asked the court to take a recession for her to prepare to further explanations and categorically renounced the claims the next day.
It was a bolt from the blue for the court and posed a question for the trial parties - and, first of all, to the prosecutor and the Justice Administration - about the possible acceptance of the plaintiffs refusal, as in this case the Committee would supposedly leave the parents of CARPs members without protection. A heated discussion followed which resulted in everybodys awareness that these parents, Babkin, Russkikh, and Chernickova, were also on the Inter-regional Committee for Salvage from Totalitarian Sects, that also had demanded to liquidate CARP and exact 20 billion dollars award from it. Thus the officials were not alone in their struggle, as they were supported by general public represented by the above individuals. (Meanwhile, according to the Civil Code of RSFSR, the court had no right to discuss the plaintiffs refusal but ought to have accepted it immediately.)
Then the court took a recession for two weeks and asked the Inter-regional Committee for Salvage from Totalitarian Sects to substantiate its claim properly. However, it was unclear why the court did not go on to the hearings of the claim of the Prosecutor or Inter-regional Committee at once. The attorneys of CARP had formed an opinion that their opponents, and also the court, that made its posture quite clear (for it was hardly reasonable to suppose that the court not only did not know the law but also, being forced by the demand of the CARPs attorneys to turn to the body of the laws, nevertheless rendered the decisions that went against the law), wished to digest the results of the first two days of the hearings and take them into account in the future.
The recession came to its end, but the court failed to resume the hearings: the Inter-regional Committee for Salvage from Totalitarian Sects asked for more time to prepare for the trial. Without inquiring why it had not been possible to prepare for the trial during such a long time, the court agreed with the request for a further postponement. The attorneys of CARP filed a petition with the court to order the plaintiff to specify the claim, that is to define more exactly the amount claimed, the list of victims, etc., and to provide specific proof of the claim, as they felt that the trial had clearly become the subject of procrastination. The court complied with the petition and ordered the Inter-regional Committee to make the claim more specific. The court did not go on to the Prosecutors claim.
The new session began with traditional petitions filed by the defendants party to have the members of CARP and their parents participate in the trial as plaintiffs. According to the allegations by the Inter-regional Committee, these person suffered from CARPs work. Of course, the court rejected all the petitions. Then the Committee for the Protection was offered to provide a specified claim according to the courts order. However it turned out that the two months were not enough time to prepare it and the presiding judge put off the hearing till the next day, stating that she would fine the Committee for non-execution of the courts order if a new claim was not submitted.
This severe warning resulted in the third claim, filed on 9 July 1996 which was absolutely identical to the previous two ones. It also stated that CARP "controls the minds and way of life of members of the families..., has taken away their rights and liberties.... Thus, being a public organisation, CARP has prevented the state of Russia to carry out in regard to the above young citizens of Russia, as members of their families, its main constitutional duty - to observe and protect their human and civil rights and liberties - ... that constitutes an encroachment on the constitutional order..."
The court seemed to understand that it was very unlikely that the Committee for the Protection was capable of providing something more specific than the allegations against CARP of encroachment on the constitutional order and preventing the state to protect the youth and family and went on to read out the claim of the Inter-regional Committee.
Then the floor was given to its Chairperson Russkikh to explain the claim. She did not confine herself to the claim that accused CARP of encroachment on the constitutional order. CARP turned socially active and worthwhile individuals, she said, into passive persons by means of psychological suppression and mind control, etc. The Chairperson claimed that the question about a threat to society posed by Unification Church, and CARP as its part, was repeatedly put to a number of the governments of European countries and the European Parliament, where these organisations had long been recognized to be totalitarian sects or destructive cults that used indoctrination and zombieing. She said that the result of this influence, that involved drugs, was 'psychomutation' of personality. The organization exercised mind control on the level of under-cortex layers, therefore, in fact, suppressing the left hemisphere functions responsible for logic and rational thinking. The leaders of the organization who called on its members to perceive God with their hearts, affecting them through prayers and religious songs, are especially to blame. Her own explanation, that she attended almost all their seminars and services for several years notwithstanding, Russkikh accused CARP that it was closed to the man in the street. She felt that CARPs members had given up active life, because of the organizations prohibitions they did not read books and received no information about life in Russia, and they had developed addiction to the teaching of S.M.Moon similar to drug addiction. They abandoned their families, "their intellect reduced." The plaintiff cited the activity of the (old) Cult Awareness Network (CAN) as a positive experience of "deprogramming". She concluded her speech with the words that all CARPs members, including her daughter Eugenia, were victims and needed involuntary inpatient psychiatric treatment for 16 months. "A question about isolation, work with family is being considered - all these thing entail a lot of money." (Vol.2 of Case 2-2831, p.12)
Russkikh read out her speech from a previously composed text and, while the laws stated that the court and the parties should have received the text and it could have been included in the case records, the court refused to comply with legitimate demands of the CARPs attorneys to provide the text. It should be noted that the court prohibited the use of a tape recorder.
Summarizing the answers of Russkikh to the question asked by Robert Beebe, one of the CARPs leaders, and the attorneys, one could arrive to a general conclusion that, according to her:
The Chairperson of the Committee concluded her speech expressing her certainty that the Committee could provide leadership for the deprogramming process if there was funding.
N.K.Russkikh had to admit that:
N.K.Russkikh was still unable to answer a question who were, according to the claim, the victims of and who suffered from CARPs activity. Nor did she clarify the following problem: if CARPs members needed rehabilitation, werent they the alleged victims? In the light of this situation the court granted the Committee time to make its position more certain.
In this connection, the CARPs attorneys explained to N.K.Russkikh that the court might not order to have CARPs member "undergo rehabilitation and recovery of their intellect" or to isolate them from CARP or Unification Church. The court agreed with this explanation absolutely. However, the Chairperson of the Committee kept insisting that if the court held the best interests of the youth at heart then these problems should be solved at the same trial, or there was no sense in CARP liquidation, as children would continue to believe in the teaching of Moon. She proposed as a minimum that CARPs leaders should be deported from Russia by the appropriate agencies.
Also, CARPs attorneys filed a petition to oblige the Inter-regional Committee to provide evidence, as the Civil Code of RSFSR, Part 1, Article 50, stipulated that a plaintiff should prove the facts referred to as the grounds of its demands. The unrealistic and unsupported nature of the loud statements by N.K.Russkikh not only limited the defence of CARP, as the organization was deprived of the possibility to refute concrete accusations, but they also prevented the court from complying with the claim of the Committee.
The court was so tired by the attempts of N.K.Russkikh to reform civil law in the scope of this single trial that it ordered N.K.Russkikh to provide evidence on which to base the Committees demands together with a more specified claim. The court then took another recession.
The final fruits of the Committees members reflections was the statement of N.K.Russkikh that the Committee had made more specific only one point of the claim: the circle of victims considered to be undefined and subject to determination only at the trial.
The following was provided to the court as evidence that CARPs activity was dangerous: the claims of the Committees members filed with the Justice Administration; the statements by Russian Orthodox Church about the dangerousness of sectarianism; "expert" findings concerning the dangerousness of new religious movements; and also the books and booklets published by Unification Church, including the works of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. It turned out that the Committee had been supplied with all the materials by the Justice Administration, thus the court, the parties, and the attending public had one more possibility to see the people behind the Committee.
Sine Ira et Studio (Without Anger and Bias)
While the discussion whether to include these materials in the case records and material as evidence, the incautious words of a judge not only showed the courts attitude to CARP and Unification Church (it might have been inferred earlier from the progress of the process) but also virtually exploded the session.
For all the time, the choice of terms by the parties and the court had been a burning issue for the CARPs representatives. It had become a usual practice not only for the Inter-regional Committee but also for the judges, (Peoples) assessors, the prosecuting party, and the Justice Administrations representatives to use such words as "sect" and "totalitarian sect." The CARPs attorneys had to claim that, in the Russian language, these words were coloured negatively; that they were not used by the laws of the Russian Federation; that they had no legal meaning; and that CARP had been incorporated as a public organisation and Unification Church as a religious one.
The court had to agree with the CARPs attorneys that all religious organisations were equal in the eyes of the law, and therefore no such an organization might be called "a sect", and asked the parties not to use these words and to choose more appropriate terms of address to the defendant in the future.
This notwithstanding, while the discussion whether to include the book of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon in the case materials, the formal objectivity vanished into thin air. Holding the book in his hands, one of the assessors asked aloud, "What is it? Mein Kampf?"
In accordance with the Civil Code of RSFSR, Articles 17, 18, the assessor was immediately challenged by CARPs representatives because his words were regarded as raising a doubt about his objectivity and impartiality. It was evident that the assessor, who was not familiar with the works of the religions founder, the study of which was stated as an objective of the organization in its Charter, and compared the works with the well-known book by Adolf Hitler, thereby determined his attitude to the trial outcome.
The court rejected the challenge. In its decision on the issue, it stated that the assessor asked a question about the document that contained no judgement and expressed no opinion on the subject of the case. Thus the court found no reason to challenge his objectivity. It should be noted that the court found it unnecessary to include in the decision the assessors words, which became the cause of the challenge.
Then followed a challenge to all the judges and assessors, as the decision and its text itself, in the eyes of the defendant, testified that the trial was unfair. CARPs attorneys cited not only provisions of Russian laws but also Article 14 of the International Civil and Political Rights Pact, that declared the right of any individual to get a fair and public trial by a competent, independent, and unbiased court to determine his/her rights and duties. The court found that it was not an offence to compare the book of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon with the book by Adolf Hitler, thus, in fact, sharing the opinion of the assessor and showing its attitude to the defendant as well.
However the challenge to the court was rejected. This time, the decision quoted the question, "What is it? A kind of Mein Kampf?", but pointed out that the court, rejecting the challenge, "hadnt shared the opinion of the assessor, but evaluated the question asked by one of its member.
Then the court resumed the discussion whether to file the evidence provided by the Inter-regional Committee. (It should be noted that during the above sessions neither one of the leaders of CARP, Robert Beebe, nor the CARPs attorneys was given an opportunity to comment on the claims; the court merely filed their written objections.)
The Committee asked to file as evidence The Expert Opinion on the Phenomenon of Hidden Abuse Expressed in Purposeful Establishment of Illegal Control Over the Minds and Lives of Individuals Without Their Voluntary and Informed Consent by A Single Person or A Group of Persons by the assistant Professor of the School of General Sociology and Social Work of Lobachevsky State University of Nizhniy Novgorod, E.N.Volkov. According to N.K.Russkikhs explanations, this so-called expert opinion revealed the vehicle of "sectarians zombieng." The author, Ph.D., detailed his opinion on mind control and manipulation applied by destructive cults, including totalitarian sects. "During the process, the victim of deception and manipulation becomes incapacitated in terms of psychological, intellectual, and social life - to various extents, that somewhat resembles the conditions of trance, unconsciousness, and paralysis." E.N.Volkov made direct references to Dr. Margaret Singer to ground his conclusions. He emphasized "brainwashing" and mind control as different techniques of illegal mental influence on the human mind. He described the conditions needed to achieve control over the thinking process as being a kind of mind control, and the three stages to establish control over human mind. He also listed typical problems of "victims of mind control by a cult" that included depression, psychosomatic symptoms (head ache, back ache, asthma, skin disorders), sleep disorders, spiritual "abuse," sexual disorders, deterioration of physical health and disease, deterioration of mental health, including hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, disorientation and a split personality. As a potential harm, the wise man saw "psychiatric disorders such as hallucinations, distorted perception of reality, a split personality, bouts of derangement, psychopathic episodes, paranoia, a superiority complex, regression to childhood, suicidal thoughts,... withdrawal, hostility, paranoia and apathy to conventional society," and so on and so forth. The last passage of this pseudoscientific work worth quoting at some length: "Thus the opinion reveals the main signs and consequences of dangerous and illegal activity such as abuse and fraud in the most complicated and subtle sphere of human psychology and social and personal life, the mental and spiritual state of the human mind. This criminal activity, called mind control by the psychological science and practice in a number of countries, and the subjects of this activity, defined as destructive cults, have been studied and analyzed well enough to determine with high precision whether the practices of definite persons and organisations show the signs of hidden mental abuse and fraud. Regular and wide application of the above methods of mental abuse (at least a considerable part of these techniques or especially the most of them) by the leaders or adherents of some organization may be unquestionable evidence that such an organization damages the psychology and life of the people who are in the sphere of its influence."
The position of CARPs attorneys against filing this opinion was based on considerations of principle. In its most part, the opinion had been built upon the works of Dr. Margaret Singer and strewn with references to and quotes from them. The modern psychology and sociology did not consider the term "destructive cult" indisputable. In any case, action taken in the 1980s by the American Psychological Association (and, in part, the American Sociological Association) implied that the U.S. courts should not accept the evidence of Dr. Margaret Singer and Dr. Richard Ofshe, the main proponents of this concept, due to its unscientific basis. Moreover, any religion, including a conventional one, fitted the many definitions actively used by E.N.Volkov. Finally, this opinion might not be considered to be relevant evidence because the text of the opinion showed that the expert had not examined any of CARPs members and therefore, according to the Civil Code of RSFSR, Article 53, he could not prove or disprove the facts in issue contained in the Committees claim (deterioration of the health of CARPs members, "their reduced intellect", etc.)
The Justice Administration admitted that the opinion resulted from its request, came out in support of the Inter-regional Committees petition to file the opinion. Nevertheless, the representatives of the Justice Administration had to admit that the text of the opinion hadnt disclosed the defendants specific activity and claimed that the "expert" would prepare the second part of the findings that would be directly related to CARP and Unification Church.
The court decided to get back to this "evidence" during the next session.
The court was provided with The Report of the Army Medical College on Treaty of Co-operation between the College and the Committee for the Protection of Family and Personality of 17 January 1995 that occupied only one printed page. The Report stated that there was a study of 38 young people who were the members of different "asocial pseudo-religious sects," also there were some activities performed, including more than 200 psychotherapeutic sessions, interviews, meetings with young people and their parents as well. Thirteen parents of victims were interviewed and their conditions were adjusted. The Report contained no data and especially that of medical nature.
The Report gave an analysis of various materials of religious content: 10 videotapes, 15 audio tapes, the printed matter of different religious organisations, including Jehovah's Witnesses, Unification Church, and International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The College staff revealed here "purposeful suggestions arranged as rational and emotionally stressful influence aimed for social and mental reorientation, transformation of values, and binding to the religious organization."
The study concluded:
"1. The involvement of young people in asocial religious groups leads to destruction of family relationships, retards their mental and social development, distorts the structure of their personalities, and requires special psychological, psychiatric, and social readjustment.
"2. The condition of the individuals involved in the religious organisations is capable of being psychologically and psychiatrically readjusted.
"3. The parties find it necessary to continue with the co-operation on the basis of the re-concluded bilateral treaty."
The document was signed by Dr. A.N.Khlunovskiy, M.D., who seemed to find it not necessary to provide any medical documents as the basis of his conclusion - as did earlier Professor Yu.I.Polischuck.
The analytic and concluding parts of this "report," approved by the Director of the College after co-ordination with the Clinical Deputy Director of the College, had taken one page and nevertheless it permitted the representative of the Committee to claim that the reports conclusions were scientifically grounded.
As the document did not specify whether those supposedly studied young people included CARPs members, the court also decided to get back to this document during the next session, that followed after the CARP attorneys objection.
Honouring the request of the Committee, the religious literature of Unification Church, another sensational proof that CARP mentally affected its members, was included in the case materials, but it in itself did not testify for supposed harm at all.
During the sessions, CARPs members crowded behind the doors willing to be interrogated and answer any questions, including those which concerned their mental health, at any time. Also, they were ready to provide medical certificates. But the members of the anti-cult committees insisted that CARPs members suffered from the influence of "the totalitarian sect" and were incapable to evaluate their own state of health reasonably and were incompetent in the force of the above influence, so there was no reason to interrogate them.
The court found their interrogation premature too.
Who is Insane? Believers?
Thus the plaintiffs and court faced the necessity of appointing experts, as it was necessary to acquire true, factual knowledge from an expert examination to deliver a verdict concerning harm by CARP to its members. Obviously, the findings of Professor Polischuck as evidence that Aum Shinri-kyo had done harm to its members, at the trial of Aum, had been inspiring hope. Besides the Committee had already arranged, as it would turn out later, with a number of willing psychiatrists to receive the required opinion.
Neither the judges nor the prosecutor nor the Justice Administration, the representatives of which were still taking part in the trial, were embarrassed that the question to schedule a psychiatric examination on CARPs members had been raised by the Inter-regional Committee and discussed by the court without having any medical documents or testimony that testified to changes in the mental sphere of CARPs members and not even having questioned them. A superficial interrogation would have allowed the court to form an opinion about the presence of such changes. In fact, the question to schedule a psychiatric examination of CARPs members had been raised only because of their religious beliefs and membership of the organization.
The arguments of the CARPs attorneys that Article 10 of the Federal Act of Psychiatric Care and Guarantees to Citizens While Providing prohibited making a diagnosis that an individual was suffering from a psychiatric disorder if basing the diagnosis just on his/her disagreement with the moral, cultural, political, or religious values accepted in the society or other reasons not immediately connected to his/her state of mental health, had been regarded as demagogic and aimed at creating obstacles to justice.
Early in its claim, the Inter-regional Committee raised the question of undertaking a psychiatric examination on all CARPs members. It seemed that the Committee became aware of the civil action rules that specified how to schedule and make an examination only at the trial. Neither N.K.Russkikh nor the attorney of the Inter-regional Committee had submitted with the court a properly composed petition with a list of the questions to be clarified by experts, the names of the expert agencies or other specialists to make an examination, and explanations concerning reimbursement for legal expenses, as expert witnesses fee and reimbursement for other expenses connected to the examination should be provided by the party that submitted a petition to do the examination, that is by the Inter-regional Committee. The plaintiffs merely submitted a petition to do an examination that should confirm the fact of harm caused by sects and insisted that the examination should be made by the well-known specialist in this field, Yu.I.Polischuck, F.V.Kondratyev, A.L.Dvorkin, while inpatient attendance of CARPs members at Serbskiy Centre of Forensic and Social Psychiatry. N.K.Russkikh claimed that the Inter-regional Committee had worked out a preliminary arrangement with these experts for their participation in the trial of CARP.
Yu.I.Polischuch was infamous for his expert findings stated that the activity of The White Brotherhood, The Center of the Mother of God, Aum Shinri-kyo, The International Society for Krishna Consciousness was accompanied with harm to human moral, mental, and physical well-being and personality. The following is conclusions of Professor Yu.I.Polischuck listed for those who are not familiar with the trial of Aum.
According to the Professor, such harm that manifested as delirious disorders, pathologically over-valuable ideas and accompanied with other illnesses, including cessation of reproductive function, resulted from hidden mental abuse and mind manipulation under the guise of sermons, rituals, etc. The findings had been grounded on parents letters to newspapers and the Committee for Salvage of the Youth from Totalitarian Sects, on news articles and an analysis of religious books, including that of A.C. Bhaktivedana Swami Prabubhada. On 2 March, the findings were disavowed by the Presidium of Russian Psychiatry Society as scientifically ungrounded and Society pointed out that psychiatrists should not be on such committees. However it were the findings of Yu.I.Polischuck, who examined no one of Aums member that became the grounds of the Peoples Courts verdict that Aums activity had done harm to all its members and that these members suffered from "psychological castration."
The stance of F.V.Kondratyev, the professor of Serbskiy Centre of Forensic and Social Psychiatry, was also well-known: he repeatedly claimed that "sectomania" and drug addiction were similar phenomena and that they called for an identical attitude. He called advocates of the freedom of religion nothing else than "home-bred and engaged civil rights defenders," who "proceeded from abstract ideas of civil rights protection" and deliberately took us away from true targets. F.V.Kondratyev repeatedly came out for establishment of centres for mind reprogramming and for a moratorium on incorporation of new religious organisations. The Professor considered the involvement of the youth in new religious movement as a problem of state and national security. "Its the same thing as the problem of drug addiction. Harm to physical and mental health is evident." He absolutely agreed with Professor Yu.I.Polischuck, "The findings of Professor Polischucks committee not only hold true but also constantly receive confirmation." He felt that the main problem was "no funding of this one of the most important spheres of studies." It seemed that the problem has to be solved with anti-cult committees. (Quotations from The Herald of Independent Psychiatric Association, vol.1, 1996, pp.47-48.)
The opinions of psychiatrists Yu.I.Polischuck and F.V.Kondratyev seemed to lay totally outside psychiatry, science, but seemed to be in harmony with Soviet punishment psychiatry, that found it possible to declare that civil rights protectors were in need of psychiatric treatment.
With such facts, it was not a random choice to turn to this Centre, that was known as the leading organization of Soviet punishment psychiatry. Today, not only the above Professor Kondratyev is on the staff at this Centre but also a number of other psychiatrists who are willing to declare heterodoxy, including membership in another religion, a symptom of psychiatric disease that needs to be treated. For instance, on 14 February 1995, an employee of this Centre D.P.Demonova openly claimed at the Parliaments hearings into freedom of religion that new religious movements caused pathological development of the personality and reproduction dysfunction, lessened intellectual productivity and that it was necessary to establish centres for treatment and rehabilitation of sectarians who should be declared partially incompetent while the period of treatment.
However, while evaluating such opinions, one should take into consideration the fact that they had not been grounded on some clinical observations.
A.L.Dvorkin, Theol.D., the head of the Centre for Information and Consultation of Holy Martyr Ireneus the Bishop of Lyon, was an activist of struggle against non-traditional religions, that were, in his eyes, "totalitarian sects" that use "mind manipulation" and, in essence, "organisations of Mafia." He had received no medical education and never was a professional psychiatry practitioner. The Committee was not embarrassed over these facts though.
The Inter-regional Committee asked to authorise these so-called specialists to do an involuntary inpatient forensic psychiatry examination on all CARPs members at Serbskiy Centre of Forensic Psychiatry.
The CARPs attorneys had to claim that:
Also, it was pointed out that Article 23 of the Federal Act of Psychiatric Care and Guarantees to Citizens stipulated that a psychiatric examination was to be done on the request or will of the person to be examined. In exceptionally severe cases, the court of the community where the person resided (that is not Dzerjynsky Peoples Court, where the case was being heard) was allowed to order to make an examination without an expressed agreement on the basis of a petition of a psychiatrist; such an order could also be the subject of an appeal.
The Committees discontent with the complicated scheme of legal psychiatric examinations, that somewhat guaranteed people their rights, was evident. In an attempt to solve the problem rapidly and without, according to the Committee, excessive legal formalities, it kept insisting on a psychiatric examination only by the "specialists in the field of sectarian influence on the human mind," Yu.I.Polischuck, A.L.Dvorkin, and F.V.Kondratyev.
Nevertheless some remarks of the court in the course of the trial made the Inter-regional Committee a bit more reasonable. First, it had to realise that CARPs members could not be examined involuntarily, whatever the Committee wished. Secondly, after the courts explanation that examination costs should be covered by the party that lodged a petition to do an examination, the Inter-regional Committee provided a guarantee letter to pay only the experts they had specified. (Case 2-2831, vol.2, p.53) and claimed: "In the case of a different composition of the expert commission we do not guarantee payment." (Ibid.) The Committee decided that only the children of its members, E.V.Russkikh, V.N.Babckina, and O.A.Stepanova, would undergo such an examination.
These young people faced a difficult choice. Their parents maintained that they were indoctrinated and zombied, that they were less than human beings and thus should be committed. While they knew that there were psychiatrists in Russia who could declare that heterodox believers needed psychiatric care on a basis of their beliefs only, the young people, who had joined CARP voluntarily, esteemed the organization highly and wished to defend it. Their refusal would have been a clear sign to the court and the mass media that CARP was especially dangerous as it did not agree on an examination that could have objectively revealed mental abuse. So these believers of the Unification Church, the CARPs members, had to agree on an examination to confirm their physical and mental competence as well as their right to freedom of religion.
Thus the problem of the expert commissions composition and the questions the experts had to answer became of especial importance.
A Vicious Circle
The CARPs attorneys categorically protested against the experts proposed by the Inter-regional Committee and provided their works as evidence that they expressed extreme opinions. They also provided the opinion of the Russian Psychiatry Society which recognized Professor Polischucks findings as scientifically ungrounded. The court did not even consider the CARPs attorneys petition in the due legal form and none of the above was included in the case materials.
According to the Civil Code of RSFSR, Article 75, a court is to take into consideration the opinions of parties. So the CARPs representatives offered a number of experts and R&D institutions that could do an examination and determine whether there was an impact on the health of CARPs members. The Inter-regional Committee vigorously protested against all these organisations. The "democratic mentality" of the staff of the organisations, N.K.Russkikh claimed, would prevent their giving an objective opinion about harm inflicted by totalitarian sects upon their members, thus none of these organisations should be authorized to make the examination. She strongly protested against including members of the Independent Psychiatry Association in the expert commission, especially its President Yu.S.Savencko and Vice-President V.E.Kagan. She was not satisfied with the Bekhterev Institute: "We refuse Bekhterev Institute because the general democratic mentality and stance of the staff will prevent the experts on the commission from reaching an objective conclusion." (Case 2-2831, p.45.) N.K.Russkikh had to admit that A.L.Dvorkin was not a psychiatrist and was incapable of finding disease in the CARPs members. She agreed to expand the composition of her commission by including V.A.Ananyev, the Director the Centre of Adjustment of the Sechenov Medical Academy and the head of the School of Valiology of GIDUV.
Having found out that the Inter-regional Committee was against doing the examination at any institution other than Serbskiy Centre, the court offered to do it at the expert institution at the Justice Administration of St. Petersburg and stipulated that other experts could be engaged, if need be. The Presiding Judge and the prosecuting party explained to the CARPs members that they only needed to express their agreement with the examination in writing. If it turned out that Yu.I.Polishuck or other specialists, whose opinions were absolutely unacceptable to the CARPs members, were on the commission they could refuse to undergo the examination by the commission, as an examination in a civil trial should be done only with voluntary consent.
In spite of this seemingly neutral and objective position of the court, the situation posed a great threat to CARP. According to the Civil Code of RSFSR, Part 3, Article 74, if a party avoids the appointed examination (default of appearance, refusal to provide the experts with needed objects for examination and the like) that which makes it impossible to do the examination because of the cases circumstances, then the court, taking into consideration which party avoids and the importance to the party of the examination, is allowed to declare the fact, which has to be verified, to be true or false. Let us remind the reader that the court appointed the examination to verify whether harm is inflicted by CARP upon its members. Thus if the examination were scheduled and there were psychiatrists on the commission who had an a priori opinion that "sectarians were zombied and indoctrinated" and needed involuntary readjustment, and the CARPs members refused to be examined, having become aware of the composition of the commission, then, according to the Civil Code of RSFSR, Part 3, Article 74, the court could consider that the defender avoided the examination and would be allowed to consider the fact of harm proven.
As the court didnt rule out the participation of the specialists who were offered by the Inter-regional Committee in the expert commission, the written consent to examination given by E.V.Russkikh, O.A.Stepanova, and V.N.Babkin [the children of the Inter-regional Committees members] stipulated that they would refuse to undergo examination if these specialists in struggle against sects were included as experts on the commission and it should be not regarded as their avoidance of examination in the light of the mentioned provision of the Civil Code of RSFSR.
Another problem was the question that the commission should answer.
The Inter-regional Committee submitted the following questions:
1. Was there any harm to the mental health of E.V.Russkikh, O.A.Stepanova, and V.N.Babkin resulting from their involvement in CARP?
2. According to Section F of the International Classification of Diseases, tenth version, how the experts of the commission would estimate the damage?
3. Did CARP cause harm to the family, personality, and state in general?
The Justice Administration supported the demand of the Inter-regional Committee to appoint an examination and supplemented the list of the question with more questions:
4. Was it possible to conclude that the stuff (educational materials)used by CARP contained the elements of hidden mental influence on a human personality? If so, then how profound was that influence and what were its purposes? Did it damage mental health and lead to mental changes and inadequate perception of ones environment? How powerful was that influence in terms of whether it was somehow possible to rehabilitate the victims or carry out any other activities to recover the health of the CARPs members? How much time would such activities take? What is their estimated cost?
5. Did the stuff (educational materials) used by CARP contain recommendations or statements aimed at replacing the institution of the family and state by the organization and erected barriers between the CARPs members and their families and the state of Russia?
6. Did CARP pose a threat to the society?
The prosecutor, a keeper of the law in the course of this process and a plaintiff in one face, had nothing against either an examination or the above questions, despite the evident bias and incompetence of those who submitted them.
One of the most interesting points of this trial was neither the poor knowledge of the Committees about legal technicalities nor state protectionism (through the Judges, the Justice Administration, and the Prosecutor) - as they were absolutely sure they held best interests at heart - nor attempts to use psychiatry to eliminate religious rivals (People still did not forget the practice of psychiatry in the struggle against dissidents.) nor even the confidence that the parents Committees, Prosecutors Office, Justice Administration, and the court have an unquestionable right to interfere in the problems of the world view and religion of adult and competent persons (which were reminiscent of the recent reality of Soviet times.). It was the attitude of the judges and the parties, except the defendants, towards such quasi-scientific concepts as "zombieing," "coding" [indoctrination], and "deprogramming", as if they were unquestionable reality. The court thwarted all attempts of the CARPs attorneys to provide it with the scientific literature that contained an objective evaluation of these concepts. It was a vicious circle: the examination was appointed not to find out but to formally confirm that the young people, whose mental heath came into question only because of their religious beliefs, were zombied and coded.
That was why, beyond the usual questions about the state of health of those undergoing such an examination (e.g. prior to their involvement, at the time of the examination, the dynamic, a necessity for treatment, etc.), the CARPs attorneys asked to include a question about feasibility of "programming," "zombieing," and "coding," Did modern psychiatry and psychology know about these practices, and if so, how scientifically based were they?
On 17 July 1996, after a four-day debate, the court, whose hands were bound to an extent by the petitions of the CARPs members, rendered a decision to appoint an examination on the CARPs members whose parents were on the Inter-regional Committee (E.V.Russkikh, V.N.Babckina, and O.A.Stepanova).
The court excluded not only the persons mentioned in the petitions of the young people from the circle of possible experts on the commission but also, those scientists who wrote articles, used by those fighting against non-traditional religions, using concepts of zombieing, coding, etc. which were scientifically ungrounded. The court also warned that it was intolerable to apply punishment psychiatry to the believers of such religions and those psychiatrists were also denied participation.
The court obliged the experts to answer the following questions:
1. Did E.V.Russkikh, V.N.Babckina, and O.A.Stepanova suffer from a dependant personality disorder per Section F 60.7 of the International Classification of Diseases, tenth version (ICD-10)?
2. Did CARP cause harm to the mental health of E.V.Russkikh, V.N.Babckina, and O.A.Stepanova, if so, then how?
3. What could be said about the mental traits of the personalities of E.V.Russkikh, V.N.Babckina, and O.A.Stepanova in general?
4. Which of the above traits had been formed as a result of CARPs direct and indirect influence?
5. Did those examined manifest the psychological signs of reduced freedom in their decisions, limited behaviour, increased proclivity to suggestions and obedience?
6. If they did, then which of the above traits had been formed as a result of CARPs direct and indirect influence?
7. If the members had suffered from disease prior to their involvement in CARP whether their involvement had provoked an exacerbation of such disease?
8. Did the way of life of the CARPs members cause deterioration in their intellectual and emotional sphere or any other social and mental functions?
9. Did the examined need to be subjected to psychiatric and psychological treatment and rehabilitation?
10. Was it possible to infer from the provided stuff (educational materials) that CARPs activity aimed to discredit the family (of origin) and the purposeful overestimation of the group leaders?
11. Was it possible to conclude that the materials used by CARP contained the elements of hidden mental influence?
12. Did the stuff used by CARP contain recommendations or statements aimed at replacing the institution of the family and state by the organization and erected barriers between the CARPs members and their families and the state of Russia?
13. Did CARP pose a threat to the society?
14. What are the results of a comparative analysis of common psychological standards used by CARP?
The court authorized experts from the Forensic Expert Service at the Mayors Office of St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg Central R&D Laboratory of Forensic Examination to do the examination.
As the court raised, among other questions, a question about the influence of religious literature of Unification Church on the CARPs members, the experts were provided with both religious books (including Sun Myung Moons works) and the books of the Western anti-cult movements activists (Thomas Gandow, etc.) to study them.
Then the court ruled that the claim of the Inter-regional Committee for Salvage from Totalitarian Sects should be the subject of a separate lawsuit and put off its consideration until the expert commissions findings. The court rendered the decision (to examine the CARPs members) on 16 July 1996, however the examination hasnt been made as yet.
We will abstain from evaluating the courts questions to the experts, but here is the opinion of some specialists.
The author of the article delivered an address to the VIII Congress of Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia (IPA) in October 1996 and demonstrated that psychiatry had been actively employed to suppress new religious movements. The subject in focus was legal actions. Among other documents, the Congress was provided with the courts decision to do the medical and psychological examination of the CARPs members. The Congress ended its work having passed IPAs Appeal "Psychiatry Again Is Used for Non-Medical Purposes." The Appeal pointed out that, "The questions posed by Dzerjynsky Peoples Court of St. Petersburg to the expert commission are not merely unscientific, they implicitly contain a false belief of the court that it is possible to induce a personality disorder or change in a personality through CARPs direct and indirect influence and that the experts can prove it correctly." The delegates called on fellow psychiatrists not to answer incorrect, biased questions and become involved in problems beyond their professional competence.
II. For Whose Benefit?
Its our strong belief that the trial of CARP is not just an occasional process at some court resulting from a claim of parents who are distraught with grief at their desperate attempt to make their children, who are carried away with a religion, come back. On the contrary, professional fighters - anti-cultists - cynically use the parents pain and anxiety. If the parents had been provided with objective information, they would have hardly filed the claim with the court and demanded to have their children committed involuntarily. But their opinion, that their children had been zombied and coded, was primarily formed under the influence of mass media and seemed to be supported by the expert opinions of the priests of science. Besides their struggle has filled the life of many of these professional fighters with a meaning: appearances at the trial and press conferences, receptions at the State Duma. The press pays attention to them; they take part in the activities of statespersons; the logic of the struggle carries them away. Now its of little importance to reach a mutual understanding with their children - now its of great importance to struggle, struggle and struggle. Moreover, the result of this struggle could be quite tangible. Also, these tangible results unite the anti-cult committees with state psychiatry and even with the Justice Administration.
Thus it is not a mere coincidence that the claims of the parents committees, the speeches and articles of Professor Kondratyev, and the questions posed to the experts of the Justice Administration, united by the confidence that believers from "totalitarian sects" could be zombied and coded, have one characteristic feature: they all mention funding. A twenty-million rouble award to the Committee to distribute among unknown victims, the Committees consent to provide deprogramming activities with its leadership in the case of sufficient funding, the Committees consent to pay only to the experts who are ready to confirm that "totalitarian sects" cause harm - all these things correlate with the Kondratyev stance (that the primary target of the struggle is money) and the Justice Administrations concern over the cost of rehabilitation activities.
This trial clearly shows that not only the anti-cult committees and the psychiatrists, who struggle against new religious movements, wish to earn money through this process stay behind these parents but also the authorities.
The Committee's claim was lodged immediately after the petition of some part of CARPs members was filed with the Justice Administration of the Mayors Office of St. Petersburg for legal recognition of the affiliate of Unification Church. The trial in progress became a reason to reject CARPs petition. The appeal against the refusal has not been considered for more then a year and a half (the laws say it should be considered within a month). There are no facts provided to substantiate the accusations that CARP violated the law except a reference to the warning and the note of the Justice Administration. The claims of the anti-cult committees, which had no legal right to lodge such claims, were not dismissed by the judge in violation of the law. All evidence, the unsupported and pseudoscientific opinion of so-called experts, has been provided by the Justice Administration of the Mayors Office of St. Petersburg. Once the trial showed that the parents were unable to substantiate their claims, the Justice Administration filed its own claim and then the Prosecutors Office did the same. Finally, the incorrect questions, to put it mildly, submitted by the Inter-regional Committee and the Justice Administration, were posed to the examination commission virtually unchanged, (an examination commission that had been composed by the experts from the Forensic Expert Service at the Mayors Office of St. Petersburg.)
While evaluating the above facts it should be taken into consideration that, according to the Regulations of the Justice Administration of St. Petersburg, the Justice Administration is not only a state agency of the executive organ, the Mayors Office of St. Petersburg, but also a local agency of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, that ensures the state policy in the sphere of justice, including providing the courts with human, organizational and other resources.
May be this situation is peculiar only to St. Petersburg? No. The twin of the Russian trial of Aum is not a child of an accident. It was possible to consider the order to liquidate Aum, which resulted from the absurd accusations of harm to health, to be a unique verdict rendered by some judge who decided to comply with public opinion shocked with the gas attack in a Tokyo tube. Especially considering the fact that the backlash was so strong that led to the Order of the President to investigate Aums activity. However, it is evident today that the trials resemble each other in the accusations of harm to the health of believes.
There is a direct relationship between the St. Petersburg trial of the small organization, CARP, and the general direction of Russian national policy. With the Agreement concluded on 12 March 1996 between Patriarch Alexey II and the Minister of Public Health of Russia and concerning, among other things, the question of co-operation in the field of medical care for the victims of totalitarian sects. It is of no wonder that many participants in the trial of CARP have formed their opinion that non-traditional religions cause harm to their believers a long time before a final verdict of the court. With the Federal Program for Reinforcement of the Struggle Against Organized Crime passed by the Government on 17 May 1996 the following steps were declared in an urgent measure to prevent criminality: "To summarize the materials to deal with the impact of the consequences of social and medical nature of the activities of foreign religious organizations in Russia. To prepare a draft of the statutes that shall regulate the activities of such organizations in Russia and specify the responsibility of the leaders and members of such organizations for the instigation of religious hatred and revolts of the communities affected with their influence...," it is no wonder that the judges, Prosecutor and Justice Administration believe in the danger represented by non-traditional religious movements. One should also consider the fact that there is no courts verdict that has recognized the instigation of religious hatred and revolts by a religious organization or its leaders. Meanwhile the above actions are criminal acts and there is no doubt that a corresponding sentence would become a public issue. Foreign religious organizations - what is reputed to be such an organization is not specified - are thereby declared a potential threat to the society. Thus the activity of the anti-cult committees is actively supported by the state.
So what resulted from this trial? The case is suspended. The examination has not even started. All official documents (notes of the Prosecutors Office, reports of the State Duma etc.) point out that CARP is standing trial and the plaintiffs demand to liquidate it for causing harm to the mental health of its members. The case is presented as a glaring example of the evident danger represented by one of the totalitarian sects. The anti-cult committees havent stopped their struggle. Who will be the next? It is impossible to cover the issue here, however it should be noted that the author agreed to represent one religious organization that has become the subject of another claim filed by the anti-cult committees at the trial. The machine is gaining speed.
The vicious circle... again
On the face of it, now the worried parents can be reassured in regard to the mental health of their adult children, they might orient their activities not toward destructive litigation but toward he resolution of family conflicts. However, further development of this trial investigation made it clear that it was by no means their concern for their children's mental health that had served as the reason for the parents taking the matter to court.
But no expert findings convinced the parents, since these did not confirm the prejudice they already held. While calling for an examination, it was already clear that they were eager only to establish the harmful consequences of the Unification Church doctrines and practices on the believers' psychology. That is, they regarded the examinations merely as a formality, whose fulfillment meant nothing but the delivery of an unequivocal judgment for their own benefit. Accordingly, they suggested universally acknowledged experts on "sects", who a priori, without having done any clinical research work, would furnish findings indicating rehabilitation measures necessary for the "encoded" and "probed" "sectarians". It is not by chance that in court the Committee members declared that they had a preliminary arrangement with the experts from the Serbskiy State Scientific Research Center for Judicial and Social Psychiatry about the participation in suit against the CARP (Collegiate Association for the Research of the Principle, an organization based on the Unification Church doctrine) and also insisted on the candidatures of Y.I. Politchuk, F.V. Kondratyev and A.L. Dvorkin (who, different from the first two, is not even a psychiatrist at all) and on the hospitalization of the CARP members in the State Scientific Research Center.
And, if during the realization of the examination by the employees of the Judicial-medical expert service of the Administration of St. Petersburg the anti-cult activists did not state any doubts in the competence of the experts, later, after learning the findings, they immediately began to require new experts. They had every opportunity for it - for, with the complete connivance of court, they ignored the norms of civil-procedure legislation not only during the submission of claims and the appearances in judicial sessions.
The norms for the payment of compensation to the experts and for the indemnification of other expenses connected with conducting the examination were, to all appearances, not assessed to them either. Expenses which, by law, are supposed to be assigned to the party petitioning for the lawsuit. That is, the Inter-regional Committee should have been required to pay in full for the cost of the examination. However, in this matter too, the state took the side of "The Committee for Salvation from Totalitarian Sects", and has undertaken all the expenses.
Seeing that the children were not recognized by the experts as having been mentally damaged, and thus their, at first indisputable, prize has become rather doubtful, then the anti-cult activists decided to shift their tactic to another front.
Now they have filed with the Kuzminsky Inter-municipal National Court of Moscow, in consideration of the legal address of the Unification Church. The magical sum of 2 billion roubles has appeared again in their individual claims, but now it is being demanded in compensation for that moral harm which had ostensibly been caused to them in connection with their children joining the Church. Other members of the Committee have joined the, by now familiar, N.K. Russkikh, E.V. Chernickova and V.N. Babkin: such as G. Kuznetsova and G.I. Garkusha from Moscow as well as G.R. Kurakova and S.N. Suslova from Novgorod. What matters is that in both Novgorod and Moscow they had repeatedly appealed to the Public Prosecutor's Office and other law-enforcement bodies requesting the institution of criminal proceedings or the liquidation of the Church, to which they repeatedly received responses indicating the lack of grounds for such actions. Besides, N.K. Russkikh, E.V. Chernikova and V.N. Babkin have had sufficient personal experience, which it seems did not teach them anything at all.
Again, as in St. Petersburg, contrary to the stipulations of Article 126 of the Civil Procedures Code of the RSFSR about the contents of the claim, the claimants did not specify either any concrete circumstances upon which they based their claims, nor any proofs of the alleged damages, nor any enclosed documents. Similar to the case in St. Petersburg, they could not specify the fact of guilt of the Unification Church which was causing them moral or physical suffering and also under which circumstances and by which concrete actions the suffering was caused.
I shall allow myself to deviate slightly from the declared theme to explain a legal design of the described action of proceedings. According to the Russian civil law, no harm may be compensated even with the presence of suffering of those applying for compensation. I shall give some examples. A girl from a well-established respectable family got married with a drug addict, whose mode of life was disordered. Certainly, her choice gives rise to the moral suffering of the parents. The decision of a young man to take the monastic vows can be rather painful for his relatives. The economic changes in the life of our society have made millions of people unemployed, etc. However, in all these cases those people, whose sufferings are obvious, do not enjoy under the law the right of demanding compensation for them through the judicial order. It is impossible to demand indemnification for moral damage from the television companies for that unquestionable harm which is done to society by the endless demonstration of bloody hits or trite soap operas. Namely, we see from these examples the general norm of the Russian Federation Civil Code item 151 in action, regarding the application for lawsuits, procedures and avenues for compensation for moral damages. Compensation is to be made only in clear cases of violation of the law by the alleged wrongdoer (as a result of a crime or other offense, encroachment on property, to the citizen from birth or by force of the legal law) or in other cases, specially stipulated by the law, (for example, the Law "On the protection of consumers' rights"), or, if harm is caused to life and health of the citizen by a source of some special danger (for example, by a car during an accident).
This means that in the present suit, due to the demands of the parents to compensate them for the moral harm, they should have proven by which concrete illegal actions of the Unification Church it was done, and to make account of the demanded compensation of 2 billion roubles to all parties.
Besides, according to the norms of the civil process, the court has not the right to venture outside the limits of the claim of the lawsuit. The right to formulate the demands of the claim and to change them belongs only to the claimant. It means that, if a claim for the dissolution of a marriage is filed, the court cannot on its own initiative divide the property of the spouses. If the claimants put a question on collecting damage as a result of an accident, the court may not discuss the expediency of the purchase of a motor vehicle by the respondent. The same norm applies here. The claimants have declared their demand for compensation for moral damages done them. This means only those concrete actions which had done harm to them, and not the whole entirety of activities of the respondent, his belief and his religious practice and at greater lengths in other matters the court should have considered.
The cases described by the parents in the claims did not meet any legal design. And not at all because they were of any special complexity for the justice. But just because the Unification Church did not break their parental rights.
From all the claims and explanations of the claimants in judicial session it was obvious, that they regarded the entry of their children who came of age into the Unification Church as a legally meaningful fact making the basis of the claim. However it is not the infringement of the law, as thus involved by court to the participation in proceedings as the third persons the adult and capable citizens - the children of the applicants had realized the constitutional right on freedom of creed. According to Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation they have the right to profess individually or together with others any religion, to choose freely, to have and to distribute religious beliefs as well as to work according to them.
For this particular reason, the legal basis of the claim was not specified at all by the claimants, nor was it specified, which namely illegal actions of the Unification Church toward the claimants had caused moral harm and of what the illegality of these actions had consisted, if they had indeed taken place. Their claims and explanations in the judicial session still boiled down to statements that ostensibly their children were "involved by deceit in the use of methods of psychological processing and mental suppression". However similar pedantic statements expressed merely the extremely negative attitude of the claimants toward the religious activity as such, and they also did not contain any actual indications of any illegal actions of the Unification Church. No real proofs of "involvement", nor any expert opinions regarding suppression or other infringements of personality upon any concrete persons are submitted to the court.
The claimants did not specify either, what was the particular damage ostensibly caused to them by the Unification Church. It was possible to draw the conclusion from their claims, that the moral harm done to them was connected with the changes in behavior of their adult children. However, the very treatment of these changes was absurd and ridiculous. I shall cite but one passage from their claim: "In August 1995, the spouse, a Moonist with ten years' experience in the sect, with no employment, no definite place of residence and who had left his family long before, was chosen for the son. 'Having given its blessing' to our son's marriage with a foreigner, the Unification Church did not foresee where they would live. Now the son works all day long, supports his wife and a 5-month-old-baby, rents a 4- room apartment, pays for the wife's hospital treatments (on 3 separate occasions) and her entrance visas. Our requests that they leave their rented apartment and come to live in our place, with his own room of 16 sq. m, were to no avail. They live in poverty. That is what kind of a tough situation our son and we, the parents - pensioners, face because of the sect. In view of the stated, I consider that the actions of the Unification Church have caused physical and moral suffering for me and my wife connected with the infringement of personal non-property rights and the non-material boons, connected with paternity, maternity and family relations".
The young woman who has recently become a mother, a citizen of Switzerland, is characterised by her father-in-law as a person without work and certain residence. By moving from prosperous Switzerland to Russia, she faces not only just the usual household complexities, but also the obvious hostility from the part of the relatives of the husband. It is clear, that the similar attitude of the claimant to the spouse of the son and mother of the only grandson does not favor the achievement of good family relations and joint residing in one apartment. The blessing on the marriage or the wedding rite performance does not oblige any religious organization to foresee, where the newly married will live. The maintenance of a young family with habitation is their private affair. And if it is just "encoding" that is capable of forcing a Russian man on the wrong side of life to keep the wife and child, to pay for the treatment of the wife and the rented apartment, etc., then, probably, such an effective method, alas, is too rarely applied. But, if not to sneer, but to read all the claims attentively, the absurdity of the groundless accusations become obvious. So, there is nothing illegal seen in the behavior described in the claim. On the contrary, the young husband really cares about the future of his family. He takes responsibility to keep his wife who is caring for their child, his baby-son. However, his parents demand 2 billion roubles, which, as his father has explained in judicial session, "are necessary for the restoration of the health of the son and the rehabilitation treatment".
The mother of another young man has regarded his behavior as inadequate, because of the irregular meals, the negligence in clothes and his reading of religious literature. However, if it did occur, it, probably, was connected with the individual traits of his character, not with any impact on his mental state.
V., a student of the Novgorod State University, in opinion of the father, has revealed the deterioration of his memory, his mental unbalance and the loss of interest towards a professional career. The medical documents witnessing the negative changes of his mental condition are not submitted to the court. As for V., he presented a student's record-book, from which one can see that his marks are good and excellent. His interest towards his own professional career is his private affair, and is not connected in any way with the activities of the Unification Church.
E., in opinion of her mother, is keen on her involvement with the Unification Church and spends all her free time there. Her behavior does not in any way deviate from the normal bounds, and, moreover, is not illegal.
A. does not keep in touch with former friends and does not associate with relatives. However, this sphere is not adjusted by the law, as each man chooses independently a sphere of communication.
One more believer of the Church, as is specified in the claim, has changed his mode of life, changed his attitude to his family and material well-being and has lost interest in his professional career. However, even if these changes took place, they are connected with the personal choice of the person himself who is an adult.
G., in the opinion of his mother, is seldom home, and when he does, comes home aggressive and hungry. He is engaged in tea trading. She moans, "They've got a strong hold of him". It is curious that actually he is an Orthodox community churchgoer, and simultaneously, he is interested in the doctrine of the Unification Church. Disregarding his creed, G.'s choice of his way of life, his place of work, etc. - are his private affair.
All the parents explained that similar changes have taken place with their children as a result of the influence on their mental state. It is rather curious that at this, all of them were unanimous that they would not object, if their children confessed the Orthodoxy.
If to estimate these claims of the parents from the legal point of view, it is necessary to bear the following in view. All the above-mentioned persons have come of age. According to Part 2 Article 17 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, their basic rights and freedoms are not alienated and belong to them from birth. According to Article 60 of the Constitution, they, like each citizen of the Russian Federation, can independently carry out, in full capacity, their rights and duties from 18 years of age.
According to Article 23 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, everyone has the right of inviolability of their private life - privacy, personal and family secrets. Private life is not subject to control by the state, court and even by one's own parents. Citizens are free to seclude, to reflect, to associate with other people or to abstain from them, to register a marriage at their own discretion, are free both to be interested in a professional career and to assign greater meaning to spiritual values, etc.
Article 27 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation guarantees the freedom of movement, of the choice of a place of stay and residence, Article 28 - the freedom of conscience and freedom of creed, Article 29 - the freedom of thinking and speech. Article 37 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation grants everyone the right to freely dispose of one's own abilities to work, to choose one's occupation and trade.
The rights of personality are guaranteed not only by Russian law, but also by international law. Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 8 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Basic Freedoms guarantee to each the right to the respect of personal and family life, forbidding any intervention in the enjoyment of this particular right.
The realization by the claimants of their right to judicial protection, as interpreted by them in such a distorted manner, actually violates the above-mentioned norms of international law and the constitutional rights and freedoms of their adult children; that is inadmissible according to Article 17 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
The compensation demand of the claimants, the members of the Inter-regional Committee for Salvation from Totalitarian Sects, are directed toward the restriction of the rights of their adult children, the restriction of their choice of residence, the sort of employment they may take, their choice of religious beliefs; whereas the Constitution of the Russian Federation grants them the freedom of choice and self-determination. As a matter of fact, they are abusing the concept of parental rights, as their claims are connected with the presumption to restrict the rights of adult citizens to religious choice, according to the wishes of their parents.
Disregarding the contents of the legal acts, it is impossible to deprive a man of his right to self-esteem, to freedom of thinking, or to the choice of a mode of life and circle of dialogue. The claims of the parents boil down to the unsatisfactory behavior of their adult children, which is connected, in their opinion, with the adult children's religious choice. Thus, the parents wish to interfere in the spiritual sphere of the personality of their adult children, which, undoubtedly, will cause even greater alienation and misunderstanding. In life it is quite frequent that parents do not accept the religious, professional, family and, finally, the sexual choice of their children. They are not always satisfied with the degree of emotional affinity with their adult children. However, this does not constitute the basis for instituting legal proceedings. The court cannot take compulsory measures concerning these questions; they are to be solved on the basis of the good will of the parties and in view of their friendly relations.
The Indisputable Proofs
All the above-mentioned had been no secret both for the claimants, and for their lawyers before they instituted the legal proceedings. They perfectly understood, that neither the actions of the Unification Church, nor the actions of the adult children of the claimants broke the border of their freedom or encroach on their rights. The parent's identified, in judicial session on the subject of their claim, the infringement of their rights to their former spiritual affinity with their children, rights to "the national tradition", the infringement of their parental rights in connection with the reassessment by their children of moral values and the change of the formed family foundations under the influence of their religious choice. The parent's explanations confirmed, that the religious organization had not done any illegal actions which would warrant compensation for moral harm.
Trying to convince the court of the validity of the requirements, they were brandishing a directory of the Missionary Department of the Moscow Patriarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church "The New Religious Organizations of Russia of Destructive and Occult Character" and "The Information-Analytical Research" by V.V. Zhirinovsky and N.V. Krivelskaya, "The Pseudo-Christian Religious Organizations of Russia". However, neither the directory, containing a rather negative theological estimation of the Unification Church, nor the analytical research of the LDPR leader and a deputy from this faction, literally reproducing its separate fragments, and no other fact sheet contained evidence either about the claimants, about their adult children, nor about the harm ostensibly caused to the claimants by the Unification Church, and, accordingly, could not stand as proofs of such harm.
The old weapon, used with success on the pages of the press for the blackening of a religious organization was applied also. The extracts from the doctrine literature with the prejudiced comment of the anti-cult activists were summoned to show the "harmfulness" of the doctrine itself. At this the claimants intentionally held back that it is just this literature that, among other documents and books, was submitted to the experts of the Central St. Petersburg Laboratory of Judicial Examination, who did not see in it any signs of either criminal nor any other wrongful activity of the Unification Church.
In court the anti-cult activists objected flatly and resolutely to the fact that the research, the comparative analysis, the interpretation and the estimation of the religious, belief-confessing literature can be a subject of theological disputes, not of legal proceedings. It was pointless to try to convince them that the primitive - literal understanding of the spiritual literature of the Unification Church (the concepts "True Parents", "blessing", etc.) is as absurd and senseless, as, for example, the literal perception of the orthodox liturgy texts ("Blessed is he who dashes his babies against a stone"). They did not wish to see the obvious: that this literature is insufficient either to confirm or to deny the facts (if they indeed took place), which are subject to documentary proof in this category of lawsuit. For example, by means of medical certificates of the condition of health, expert opinions regarding the direct connection between the activities of the Unification Church and the deterioration of mental health, etc. They tried to attach a negative value to the doctrine, imply illegal concepts, extracting them out of context or directly substituting them. They accused the experts who had not discovered in these texts any "elements of latent psychological influence on the personality", any "recommendations or statements pursuing the purpose of the substitution by an organization of the institutes of family and state, installing the barriers between the members of an association and their families and the Russian state", "doing harm to a person", etc., of incompetence. In this connection they demanded to enclose the findings on the contents of the belief of the experts of the Institute for the Development of the Personality of the Russian Academy of Education I.Galitskaya and I.V. Petlik. Not an expert in the area of the religion research, the author does not dare to analyze critically the findings which have seemed to him rather prejudiced and unilateral. However, it is obvious to any lawyer, that extracted from the context or the arbitrarily interpreted citations from the spiritual literature are of no legal meaning, as they deal entirely with the spiritual things. And the very attempt to enclose in the suit materials the doctrinal materials of the Unification Church, which contain no testimonial information, was directed to the transformation of the legal proceeding into a doctrinal, public, political dispute. The exodus from the legal field and the involvement of a court in the discussion concerning the place of new religions in modern Russia, had ensured a victory of anti-cult leader Alexander Dvorkin in the case of the claim of Gleb Yakunin. Therefore, in view of the previous experience, this strategy of procedure for good reasons seemed, to the anti-cult activists, a pledge of a new prize.
After a flat refusal of the court to be involved in similar discussions the anti-cult activists started to insist on enclosing as proofs the notorious brochure by A.L. Dvorkin, the Analytical Bulletins and the verbatim reports of the sessions of the State Duma of the Russian Federation (as a matter of fact, they were just the publications of an opinion of the deputy N.V. Krivelskaya, displaying her harsh negative attitude concerning the activities of a number of religious organizations), of the Ministry of Home Affairs of Russia material and the Ministry of Health Information material (which also in many paragraphs literally coincided with the publications by N.V. Krivelskaya). They insisted on the testimonial meaning of various statements and resolutions of the Orthodox seminars, the brochures of various Orthodox figures, which were unanimous in their negative theological appraisal of the activities carried on not only by the Unification Church, but also by various other religious associations. Such criticism was extended even to traditional and conventional religions - one of the authors passionately condemned the "aggressiveness of Catholic Christianity". They treated the new beliefs especially negatively. Their evaluation of the activity of new religious organizations was unrepresentative and uninformative, and was not supported by any concrete information. As a whole, all this pseudo-analytical literature was directed toward the unequivocal creation of a generalized sharply-negative image of a "totalitarian sect" but did not contain any information on damage suffered by any definite claimants on the suit.
They also demanded to attach to the materials of the case the unpublished articles by V. Zhukov, containing a sociological analysis of the activities of the Unification Church. Besides the fact that there was no data on the subject of the demands of the lawsuit, their tone and the conclusions contradicted the conclusions of the thesis of V. Zhukov himself. He had stated, in 1995, the impossibility of making any precise distinction between the terms "church" and "sect", the inability to furnish any proofs of the infringement of Russian legislation, or of "causing any harm to the health, life, right to freedom and self-esteem of any personality within the organization" and that "the practice of established churches regarding their followers differs little from the supposed totalitarianism of the 'deviant cults'". He drew the following conclusion: "In the next century, given the existing trends, Moonism has an opportunity to join the ranks of those religions around the world which look like denominations, which are suitably adapted to personal inquiries and to the conditions of modern society" (page 160 of his report).
The references of the claimants that the authors of the literature, submitted by them, believe the activities of the Unification Church to be destructive, could not substitute any concrete evidence (under what circumstances and by what concrete actions of the respondent they are produced, the degree of fault of the doer, what moral and physical sufferings have been endured, etc.), as is required by the juridical norms for civil procedures. The demagogic statements or the value judgments upon religious denominations in the literature submitted expressed only the extremely negative attitude of their authors toward the religious activities of the Unification Church as such. Even if there were some substantial basis for the extremely critical statements, it was quite obvious for the claimants, that this particular literature could by no means establish them as facts. However, their actions corresponded quite well to a strategy to use the court as a public, political tribunal.
The demand to summon to court all the foreign missionaries of the Unification Church including Reverend Sun Myung Moon himself, also met this strategy. The lawyers of the anti-cult activists declared, that as the destructive activities of the Unification Church, "directed towards doing harm to the Claimants and their children, have at their source the beliefs and religious practices of the citizen of the USA, Sun Myung Moon", it "does make obvious his personal role in doing harm". But neither the claimants, nor their lawyers could specify, which concrete actions of the foreigners and the Reverend Moon had done the moral harm to the claimants. Curious as may seem, as here, too, they believed possible to assign to the state or the Unification Church of an expense on the organization of the public political show on the own script. Though according to Article 80 of the Civil Procedures Code of the RSFSR the claimants were not exempt from paying judicial charges, that is why the state, in accordance with Article 94 of the Civil Procedures Code of the RSFSR, did not compensate them out of the budget; but instead they declared that the charges on the participation of the foreigners in the legal proceedings (the air tickets, the hotel accommodation, etc.) would be paid by the state (Legal Document 140).
When they were refused in these petitions, the anti-cultists submitted a request to claim from the Unification Church some written documents confirming that it "conducted destructive activities infringing on personal non-property rights and the non-material assets of the claimants and their children". This request contradicted the norms of Russian law, according to which the claimants should prove those circumstances, to which they refer as to the basis for their claims. But it was rather akin to the principles of a medieval inquisition process.
Having received the sustained refusal, as the last means the anti-cultists tried and used the examination at the Serbskiy State Scientific Center.
The Position of the Children
For the first time in the history of similar legal proceedings, the adult and competent children of the claimants were involved as participants in the judicial session in the position of third persons. As they did not wish a direct confrontation with their parents, they directed to court notarized objections against the claims and have charged to represent their interests to the lawyer. In their applications it was specified that they had converted voluntarily, having complete information on the activities of the religious organization, including the negative information, and that no mental violence was ever practiced upon them. They also have presented to the court documents confirming their work or study. All the applications specified the inconsistency of the statements about their "being encoded". Constantly hearing a tirade of such accusations, the young people became acquainted with the special literature, exchanged with each other their impressions about the examination, and each of them formed their own judgment, which they stated with various degrees of persuasiveness. I shall quote just one extract from the submission addressed to the court: "... The "method of mind control" is a term more applicable to modern fiction than in a serious document, as it is of no medical nor scientific basis, and as a consequence cannot serve as an argument proving the possibility of changing a person's mental state and influencing the desire or the unwillingness to study. Especially in the period from 1991 to 1994, in my opinion, the entire country has passed through a process of complete change of mentality and values in connection with perestroika and the disintegration of the USSR."
The parents explained in court that all the objections had been written at the dictation of the Unification Church, and demanded the personal presence of children in court. Then two young women from St. Petersburg took part in the trial. To a large extent, it was just their indications that affected the judgment. Before their appearance in the courtroom, the parents presented their children as mentally defective persons, "probed by a sect" and requiring rehabilitative mental treatment. Their explanations, their easy answers to various questions, convincingly revealed the intelligence of their position, and have in fact shown up what was actually motivating the claims of their parents. To be sure, their mental health was of special interest, and the young woman was directed to undergo an examination in St. Petersburg. Remember, they were not even given an opportunity to appear in court there.
During their interrogation the Chairman of the anti-cult Committee N.K. Russkikh raised again the question of prescribing an examination for her daughter. In the minutes of the judicial session, her answer is written down as follows: "Now I shall refuse to undergo further examination, as it is not required any more. Last time I underwent the examination only for the sake of you, mum. It was very burdensome for me. It was for your sake that I did it..."
However, it was not at all easy to convince such a professional psychologist as N.K. Russkikh. A bit later she turned again to the same question. Her daughter has explained to court, that by the true reason of the conflict she believes the refusal of the mother to recognize after her the right on the choice of belief, and at the presence of the judges she asked her to try and meet half way. Even the dry lines of the minutes can not conceal the internal dramatic tension of the situation.
The third person E.V. Russkikh - "...I am ready to come to an arrangement with mum on any terms right here and now."
Plaintiff NK. Russkikh - "Will you undergo an examination once more?"
The third person E.V. Russkikh - Mum, last time I did it for the sake of you, it is enough already, it was so hard. Leave me the right to choose my belief and all will be right. Let's talk.
The chair-person suggests plaintiff N.K. Russkikh discuss the idea of the daughter:
Plaintiff N.K. Russkikh - What will we talk with her here about? We could talk about the weather at home as well. And I cannot come to an arrangement with her, as she is not the respondent in the suit. It does not make any sense."
It is obvious, that actually the mutual relations with the daughter and her interests are less attractive for N.K. Russkikh, rather than the infinite struggle with the involvement of every possible instance. Though this struggle is being motivated just by stressing the parent's rights based on their natural affinity with their daughter, whereas it is the foreign missionaries who are ostensibly interfering. But as before she does not consider her daughter as a person capable of making an independent choice. And she resolutely sweeps aside all the assumptions that it is just her own position that can be in the way of this affinity.
With persistency worthy of a better application, N.K. Russkikh and other claimants have addressed the court with a written petition of the assignment of the mental examination at the Serbskiy State Scientific Center for an explanation of a question about "the mental condition of the members of the UC (the Unification Church) and their families; about the substantial - semantic orientation of the texts examined and distributed by the UC." Having declared, that they have a preliminary arrangement to hold a similar examination with the experts of the State Scientific Center, in particular, with the group of Prof. Kondratyev, they asked to put to the experts a set of questions agreed with them in advance:
The necessity of the examination was motivated by the fact that the moral harm is done to the parents in connection with damaging the personality of their children by means of the "latent psychological violence", whose mechanism just the experts of the Serbskiy State Scientific Center should reveal. Even without receiving formally any answer, the claimants were sure of the necessity of the rehabilitation measures for "the restoration of the normal personality".
The court has not seen the bases for the examination delivery, by specifying, that the sense of the submitted questions is directed to the discussion of the doctrines and practice of the activities of the religious organization, in particular, to the establishment of its state and public danger, that goes beyond the boundaries of the claim requirements and does not make the object of the claim. Then the claimants declared a challenge to the chairperson in the suit and to the Public Prosecutor, accounting it on by his refusal in their petitions. The satisfaction of the challenge as of the one not based on the law, also was refused.
As it has been noted, the anti-cultists are only satisfied with certain experts and judges who are ready to go outside the boundaries of professionalism and to be involved in a public political discussion. It is not casual, because with a professional approach to this lawsuit all the artificiality of the strident accusations becomes clear.
The court denied the claim of the anti-cultists, noting in their judgment, that no evidence was provided of any illegal activities on the part of the Church, which might have caused them moral damage. The court did not see any proof of mental violence. For this present day, such a judgment is unique. Its uniqueness is that during the consideration of the dispute the trial has remained in the legal field and within the limits of the requirements of the claim as submitted, as required by law. In the appeals, without furnishing any reasonable objections, the claimants specified that the trial had not granted them any opportunity to support their demands, since the court declined to conduct further judicial-psychological examinations.
So, as is well seen, still psychiatry, to be more precise, some separate psychiatrists ready to prove the theory of "mind control" are the basic weapon of the anti-cultists. As soon as the clinical research work confirms the groundless nature of this theory, the accusations of "mental violence" become invalid.
The Information Occasion
As soon as the trial began at the Kuzminsky Inter-municipal Court, it immediately received ample attention in the mass- media and on TV. Even the major mass media published articles entitled "The Religion of Slaves", "The Cause of Moon Lives and Threatens", etc., practically, literally reproducing the claims of the parents. The NTV provided a series of reports from the courtroom in their program "Criminality" in such a manner that the believers of the Unification Church found themselves equated with gangsters. Even when the suit was won by the Unification Church, the NTV told the television spectators about proceedings of the lawsuit and the order for the victims to undergo examination. Probably, having been taught a lesson from the sad history of conflict with the Russian Orthodox Church, that time the TV covered the legal proceedings as though it was carrying out a certain ecclesiastical order. The anti-cultists and their lawyers posed before the cameras, summoned to the rescue of Russia.
Similar appeals were heard in court, too. During the trial the judges had to repeatedly call upon the lawyer of the plaintiffs of Professor N. Kuznetsov to exercise his rights honestly. As an answer, the professor appealed to the necessity to raise a struggle against the sects in Russia. (It is curious, that according to the data on the mass-media, Victor Ilyukhin and he are the joint owners of the barristers' office. So, here again it is possible to see the connection between the Duma patriots and the anti-cultists.) All the petitions of the professor, unmotivated by the concrete circumstances, as well as the requirements to permit the TV shootings in the courtroom, the organization of an interview in the press, etc. came from the spectacularly illegal requirements which have nothing to do with the rights, freedoms or the interests of the claimants, protected by the law. The anti-cultists pursued the purpose not to protect the rights, but to use court as a political tribune. The realization of the right of judicial protection long before was reduced for them to the obvious abusing by this right resulting in the infringement of the rights of other persons. The claimants obviously know, that the ever existing moral problem "of fathers and sons" essentially cannot be solved in the trial order. The absence of the legal interests for the professional lawyers is especially obvious. Consequently all the petitions of the representatives of the claimants were directed towards bringing the legal proceeding out from the legal field and the transformation of court from a place, where the questions of the right should be solved, in a place of political and confessional disputes. The majority of the questions of the respectable doctor of jurisprudence N. Kuznetsov boiled down to the problems of the confession of the Unification Church. Curiously, while trying to catch its believers red-handed in the misperception of the doctrine of the bases of the Christianity, the professor himself has shown his inability to distinguish between the Old Testament and the New Testament. During the interrogation performed by him of the children of the anti-cultists, all the lack of preparation of the claimants and their lawyers not only in regard to the legal aspects of the case, but even concerning doctrinal disputes has become all too obvious.
Especially after all that, their attempt in their submissions and petitions to again present the believers as deprived of the opportunity to comprehend all that was happening to them and incapable of asserting their rights, due to their encoding, looked rather inappropriate.
Having realized that their position was untenable, the anti-cultists tried to interrupt the hearing of the case. When, after the explanation by the parties, it came time to furnish the proofs of the supposed harm done, probably due to the lack of the latter, the barristers of the plaintiffs simply left the fray without any explanation. And when the court delivered a judgment not according to the wishes of their principals, one of the main arguments in their appeal was the court's refusal to postpone the hearing of the case. They gave no reasons based on the essence of the judgment itself, nor could they have provided such.
All the above-mentioned just serves as an illustration of the well-known fact. The claims of the anti-cultists are essentially not civil-legal, but of a public, political character. The acknowledgment of that is in their own explanations, numerous interviews, the demonstration of the sufferings and the readiness to rescue the patrimony before the television cameras, and in other actions.
Few understand, that the process described above is just the distracting maneuvers and that the real present target of the new law is not at all the new religious organizations. Their imaginary danger is an occasion for the infringement of the rights of other confessions. The so-called "sects" - are only that smoke-screen, which hides a direction of the main impact. It is hardly probable that, being so small in Russia, the Unification Church is a real danger to the state which justifies the so many significant efforts for its destruction. However, just due to its small number and the comparative obscurity for the population, the believers of the Church can easily be presented in press as the "encoded" and "probed". The logic is primitive: "Can a Russian believe in a Korean as a prophet without being brainwashed?" This is what is being inculcated by the mass media, and it works perfectly on the level of stereotypes. Judicial suits, inflated with all possible efforts by the press, supposedly in protection of the "mentally injured" - is a rather dangerous precedent. The use by the authority of various Committees for the Salvation from Totalitarian Sects, stirring up enmity and religious intolerance, results in an even greater polarization in the society, where the degree of the religious tolerance is anyway below the mark.
Many confessions deeming themselves traditional, keep a constrained silence and are in no hurry to augment the vote in protection of the new religions now being prosecuted in Russia. Recognizing formally the universal value of the freedom of conscience, in practice they still regard with disapproval the activities of those whom they believe to be sects. However, this religious intolerance is not focused on any certain "adherents of some other beliefs". When in the mass media the steady idea was generated that "they investigate sects", they began to accuse the Protestants of the mental influence on the believers. When in 1997 the new bill "On the Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations" was adopted, which, as assured during the debates "is directed with its cutting edge against the sects", it was the Lutheran community in Khakasya whose registration was eliminated first.
Without analyzing the reasons and the consequences of the Russian policy of the confessional protectionism in detail in a special psychiatry journal, I shall cite only the facts of the use of the psychiatrists and the psychiatric diagnoses in the Inter-confessional disputes. According to Article 14 of the Federal Law "On the freedom of conscience and religious associations" one basis for the liquidation of a religious organization and the prohibition of its activity by judicial order, according to the law, is damage done to the morals, to the health of citizens, including the use in connection with their religious activity of narcotic and psychotropic remedies, and hypnosis. It is needless to remind one that the illegal use of narcotic and psychotropic remedies entails criminal liability. And, hence, the order, strictly determined by the penal-remedial code, for the withdrawal of these remedies works in the presence of witnesses. That is, in plain English, the material proof - the drug itself - is necessary. As concerns damage to the health and hypnosis, in these cases the matter of proof need not be treated so strictly, especially if there are psychiatrists ready to furnish the necessary findings.
Let's turn to one of the findings of the group in the processing of the materials about the negative medical-social consequences of the activities in Russia of the organizations having the character of destructive, totalitarian sects. The group works in the structure of the V.P. Serbskiy State Scientific Center for Social and Judicial Psychiatry, and the very work-out was included in the federal target program in the strengthening of the struggle against the criminality, established by the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation from May 17, 1996, p. 600.
The object of the research work conducted by this group is a video cassette with the recording of a cult rite of the Christian center "The New Generation of Christian Youth". The psychiatrists concluded that it exhibits a purposeful driving of the audience in attendance to a state of ecstasy and the plainly visible application of a technique of hypnotic suggestion, with the purpose of immersing those present in a condition of altered consciousness. The conclusions of the group, headed by the well-known Prof. F.V. Kondratyev, provide the basis for the application of authoritative measures upon this religious organization: "The video recording reflects the special characteristics of this particular cult, and not just a deviation or distortion of the rites normal for this sect (aberrations are always possible in any of the cults, but do not characterize them overall). The ritual practices of the organization 'The New Generation of Christian Youth' under the direction of American preacher Bob Viner present the danger of aggravating the development of mental frustration, and use the technology of hypnotic suggestion, which has not been approved for any applications besides therapy."
Probably, a similar approach is clear to the management of the State Scientific Center named after Serbsky. In March 1998 its position in connection with the above-mentioned "research" was voiced by the deputy director of the Center, E.Y. Tchukina, in the letter to the vice-president of Committee of the State Duma for the public associations and religious organizations, V.V. Bortchev: "This particular conclusion was made before signing by the President of the Law of the Russian Federation "On the freedom of conscience and religious associations", in which in Article 14.2, in particular, it is said, that the basis for the liquidation of a religious organization or a religious group in the judicial claim are "the use of hypnosis in connection with religious activities".
The similar claims have already appeared. On June 10, 1998 a representation to court was directed by the Public Prosecutor of the Magadan area in protection of the public interests a representation to court was directed about the liquidation of the "Word of Life" church. As was specified in representation, by church weekly worships publicly in the "Kötallist" Cultural-Sport Complex, during which psycho- therapeutic and hypnotic influence was regularly exerted upon the believers, as a result of which the responsible thinking and will of the citizens was being suppressed. In the opinion of the public prosecutor, during the divine service the chief of the church N.P. Voskoboynikov conducted some sessions of hypnosis, after which some of the citizens experienced hallucinations, and felt fear for themselves and their relatives. What can be termed "harmful consequences" were also evident: under psychological influence the believers gratuitously handed over to the churches their monetary savings, jewelry, ornaments and other valuable things, the mutual relations in the families of the churchgoers are worsened, that results in divorces. As a result, referring to the findings of the psychiatrists of the Regional Mental Clinic, the public prosecutor demands to liquidate the church, seeing that by its activities the morals, health, and family relations of the citizens are damaged, i.e., by the use of hypnosis, and by compelling citizens to alienate the properties belonging to them, to benefit the aforesaid organization.
As we first of all are interested in a position of the professionals, I shall allow myself to quote literally the representation of the public prosecutor: "V. Fedorov has explained, that in hospital of the Magadan regional mental clinic the sick L. Isakova was being treated, (case history, n. 393). L. Isakova, earlier not undergoing any treatment at the psychiatrist, was conveyed to hospital by an emergency brigade. The reason for the hospitalization was the insomnia, and the occurrence of acoustic hallucinations (she "talked to God"). At the primary examination of Isakova the following was determined: Her orientation is maintained, her human contacts are unproductive, she is uneasy, she is easily excited. She explained to the medical workers that the leaders of the "Word of Life" church control her actions and movements by means of anesthesia. During such treatments, as Isakova explained, the ministers make her submit her money and valuables to them by means of anesthesia, and she started to show concern about their loss.
From the following conversations she has explained the mechanism of the ministers' psychological influence on her. Despite active therapy, Isakova remains in an unhealthy condition with some insignificant positive dynamics. L.I. Shvartsman was also sick in the mental clinic, having arrived in January 1998 after urgent calls for help in connection with hallucinations. The patient heard voices coming from the "Word of Life" church, felt scared, and for two days she could not sleep. The state of Shvartsman after the treatment is described as the effect of a psychosis with an autoboolistic defect being formed (a state of weak will, the lack of incentive to an active life).
In the opinion of the doctor/psychiatrists of the Magadan regional mental clinic V. Fedorov and Verny, I.I. Sudnis, N. Zhukov during sermons in the "Word of Life" church, a method of mental influence of a compelling nature on the persons present in the sermon is used and also a suggestion with an introduction in a hypnotic condition up to the level of a trance, i.e. the temporary painful frustration of mental activities in the form of the infringement of consciousness. This particular influence is directed to the suppression of will, critical abilities, the reorganization of the motivation sphere of social orientation and the orientation of thinking. This particular intervention in the sphere of mental activity is a powerful psycho-traumatizing factor capable of resulting in the deep reorganization of the personality up to a level of a mental pathology."
In the first case, the findings of the experts of the Serbskiy State Scientific Center on hypnotic suggestion and the danger of religious practices for mental health is provided on the basis of seeing one video tape. In the second case, the findings of mental influence in the sermon and of hypnotic suggestion made in a hypnotic state up to the level of trance is made based on the words of two patients. If on the basis of such data, findings regarding a temporary painful state of frustration are made by the expert psychiatrists, what shall we say about the level of preparation of the representatives of the structures of authority?
I shall cite a fragment of the "Word" program on the Novosibirsk radio, in which the chief expert of the Department of Justice S.I. Sultanova declared that mass hypnosis was used at the divine services of the "Russian Christian Church" of Iskitim. Similar to the two examples mentioned above, it is a Protestant church, but in its text there are also some allegations of the "probing" of the churchgoers, and it is ranked in the program in the category of "sects hostile to us".
Radio Presenter: "Here too, a lot of people have been calling after our first program, and there were some calls before, that there are even some psychotropic devices, which influence the nervous system and can be felt through a wall, through something like that, through a certain screen to another room. One woman called, she says, that she just starts feeling unwell. She did not enter into this sect. She has refused and so they are getting her this way. You see, it is really just connected with the destruction of the people, with the destruction of children, with all sorts of perversions. You see, so, you are speaking about Iskitim. There, thus, they are assuming this terrible state..."
Sultanova S. I.: "Yes, the hypnotic mass..."
Radio Presenter: "Yes, probing - here it goes."
Sultanova S. I.: "Yes."
Radio Presenter: "But is there some mental deviation already. These are not the mental clinics any longer that should treat these people."
Sultanova S. I.: "Not the mental clinics already, but really the mental hospitals."
You can see these pseudo-scientific theories are used for the suppression of alternative religions. This particular fragment of the program shows the strength of the fundamental bias of the mass media and the representatives of authority. Using their own weapon, they can be accused of "programming" the population for the demonization of a number of religious organizations.
When the authorities have such an attitude the extremist elements, the "chernosotentsy", feel more than at ease. In the article "Anti-sectarianism in psychiatry as a political movement", Y.S. Savenko specified the literal adoption against the sects of the same arguments and style once used against the Freemasons and Jews. I shall cite an example of not just the similarities, but of the harmonious merge of the anti-cultism and anti-Semitism in chauvinist ecstasy. The article "The Devils Set Free" in one of the Novosibirsk newspapers. " 'The Christians of the Complete Gospel', 'The Water of Life', 'A Word of Life', 'The Russian Christian Church of the Iskitim Town', etc. - there are a lot of titles - but essentially they are the same. This sect - is a part of the neo-charismatic movement under the general name 'Faith Movement'... They have came to us through the Swedish organization, 'Word of Life'. The church has especially spread in the territory of Siberia. It works in an active way, creeping in the houses and lives of the people, hunting for the youth. It spreads similar to an epidemic. It has its own Bible centers in many cities of Russia. It is the most destructive sect..." And closer to the subject of our article: "The people in it are constantly in a state close to euphoria. The constant hypnosis, a state of the deep trance, a split with reality - this is what is expected of any member of the sect... The leader of this sect... is a Messianic Jew."
So, we see, how similarly to a plague that aggressive ignorance and xenophobia are distributed. The accusation of mental influence is just a label, which is simply used by the confessional opposition as a right of war. There always will be psychiatrists who will deliver the diagnosis demanded by the anti-cultists. There always will be officials, who will manipulate such findings. The problem is how the community of the psychiatrists regard it. The findings of Prof. Politchuk, in the AUM Shinri-kyo case, for many were justified by the necessity of a struggle with the organization presenting danger. Probably, the pretentiousness and the engagement of Prof. Kondratyev are also seen as justified by the interests of the current moment. But all the new religious organizations are ranked in the category of the "totalitarian sects". And the accusations of the use of the hypnosis, of driving by means of sermons into a state of painful frustration of mental activity, the conclusions of the necessity of treatment of the adherents to some other beliefs in mental hospitals are perceived by the power structures as a manual to direct intervention. Moreover, they are consecrated by the authority of noble science. It seems that official psychiatry is ready to serve the new social order under the condition that the professionals realize fairly well the lack of the scientific argumentation and the representative comparative analysis between the Orthodox believers and the believers of some others confessions. Probably, it will take the scientific community rather long to condemn the manipulation by science. The ancient historian Tacitus wrote that the treatment goes slower than the illness. As a matter of the fact, the treatment has not begun, yet. And the literary phantom of "mind control" persists, and despite the separate failures wins so far.
According to Article 14 of the Federal Law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations" one of the bases for the liquidation of a religious organization and the interdiction on its activity by judicial order is damaging the morals and health of the citizens, including by the use of hypnosis. The "Independent Psychiatric Journal" offered repeatedly to the attention of readers materials which proved that the accusations of "encoding", "probing" and other mental influences, are just labels, which are used in the confessional opposition as áus belli.
The impartial expert research conducted shows the inconsistency of such accusations. The judicial-psychiatric examination carried out by order of the court upon believers of the Unification Church did not reveal in them either chronic or temporary mental diseases. Nor did they find any attributes of the character-dependent personality disorder. However, with all of them, some home problems were noted, which in many respects have contributed to the rise of religions non-traditional in Russia.
So far, the courts have been rejecting the expert opinions of the Association of Independent Psychiatry investigating the believers of non-traditional confessions, referring to the non-governmental nature of the Association. The judicial-psychiatric examination carried out with the participation of psychologists named by the Judicial-Medical Expert Service of the Administration of St. Petersburg, has confirmed completely the conclusions of the Association of Independent Psychiatry: that the non-traditional religious beliefs are not a consequence of mental compulsion or disease.
A trial, inflated by the press, in protection of the "mentally handicapped" forms a rather dangerous precedent for the use of psychiatrists in inter-denominational disputes. Anti-cultism gives rise to even greater tension in societies where the level of religious tolerance is already so diminished. And this is not limited just to certain organizations. When the steady idea was generated at the mass media that "they investigate sects", they started accusing the Protestants of mental influence on their believers. The author presents concrete facts on the use of psychiatric diagnoses for the liquidation of a number of communities. The accusations of application of hypnosis, of driving their converts by means of sermons into an unhealthy frustration of their mental faculties, the conclusions regarding the necessity of treatment of the adherents of some other belief in mental hospitals - are perceived by the power structures as a manual for direct intervention. The official psychiatric consultants are quite ready to serve the new social order in a situation where the professionals quite realize the lack of the scientific argumentation and the representative comparative analysis between the Orthodox believers and the believers of some other confessions.
III. The September 1998 Hearing
Since September 21st a hearing has taken place in St. Petersburg City Court on the suit of the City Prosecutor vs. CARP (Collegiate Association for Research of the Principle -- a Unification Church-affiliated organization). The court heard the explanations of the Prosecutor, the representative of the local Justice Department of the City Hall who joined the Prosecutor's suit and the objections of the students representing CARP.
The Prosecutor's suit follows a famous suit of anti-cult activists back in 1995 demanding the liquidation of CARP and the payment for compensation of emotional distress of the amount of $6 million. At that time the St. Petersburg Court for the procedure on the suit accepted the proposed allegations of brainwashing and destroying Russia's genetic stock. The problem for the anti-cult movement was that it did not have the legal right to demand the liquidation of the organization. After CARP pointed out this circumstance to the court, the Prosecutor and the Justice Department joined in the process in 1996. Since then neither the Prosecutor's nor the suit of the Justice Department was scheduled for hearing because it was obvious to all that they served as a cover-up for the anti-cultists' process.
The present hearing came as a consequence of the radical changes that took place in the case as far as the anti-cultists were concerned.
First of all, a Court Psychiatric Expert Examination was requested by the anti-cult activists to prove that due to brainwashing the members of this youth organization had become deeply insane and required forced psychiatric treatment. The examination demonstrated the opposite. Moreover, the psychiatrists, headed by the chief psychiatrist of St. Petersburg, proved that all the examined members of CARP were fully sane and that conflicts in their families originated long before the Unification Church was registered in Russia. The anti-cult activists relied next on a Criminal Expertise Institute of St. Petersburg. Nevertheless, after studying the documents and publications of the Unification Church and CARP, the examination by this institution proved that there is nothing of a criminal nature in the teachings of these organizations. Later in May 1998 the same anti-cult group lost a court case in Moscow against the Unification Church. That is why the old suit of the St. Petersburg Prosecutor had to be pulled out of the closet. What was its formal basis?
In 1994 a group of student believers decided to register a branch of the Unification Church in St. Petersburg. There immediately came a warning from the Justice Department demanding that they stop religious activities. The stubborn believers nevertheless submitted the request to register their church bylaws in order to have right to rent halls for their services, etc. In response to this, the Justice Department sent a new warning to CARP demanding that they stop religious activities and the Prosecutor solicited the court to liquidate the organization. The students disputed the Justice Department's warning in the court. At the same time the believers of the Unification Church addressed their complaint to the court about the Justice Department's refusal to register their bylaws.
It became absurd. The public organization CARP is to be liquidated due to its religious activities. At the same time the church community cannot register because its teaching is not recognized as religious.
All this would peacefully be resolved but the failure of the anti-cult group created complications. For example, the court has not dealt with the complaints of the student group and religious community for three years. The chairman of the court explained that the hearing couldn't take place without the documents that still have not been provided by the Justice Department. Now the anti-cult group can be saved through the Prosecutor. The group was called to the court in the summer of 1998 and found a pretext to have the court postpone its hearing until November. The anti-cultists made every possible effort to become witnesses in the Prosecutor's case. It was suddenly scheduled for hearing after three years of inactivity. In reality, if the Prosecutor succeeds in liquidating CARP, it will automatically stop the anti-cult group's case and will also solve the problem of refusal to register the church bylaws in St. Petersburg.
Another issue is if the Prosecutor has enough of a foundation to liquidate CARP. The main claims of the Prosecutor have not changed since 1996. These are artificial formalities not required by law, studies of Unification Church teachings (directly stated in the bylaws), no re-registration of the association's bylaws in accordance with the new law "On Public Associations" of 1995. The Justice Department joined these allegations, adding, "the charity programs held by the students violate the law and the organization's bylaws."
The students demonstrated in the court that they fulfill the formal duties, even exceeding the legal requirements. Thus their registered bylaws allow them to carry out charitable activities and studies of Unificationist teaching and the Justice Department had refused to re-register their new bylaws but neither the Prosecutor nor the Justice Department changed its claims. At the same time the Justice Department came up with a new argument: It was not aware what kind of philosophy the Unification Principle (the Unification Church teaching) is, even though it had been presented to the Justice Department in 1991 when registering CARP of St. Petersburg. The judge declined all the questions of the lawyers of CARP addressed to the Prosecutor and the Justice Department, trying to clarify what was the juridical basis for the liquidation claims. A lawyer can see that these claims are not based on law but on the dislike toward a system of values uncommon for contemporary Russia.
The artificial claims were not the worst for the students. It was the obstacle to their active work. For several years they have been conducting charity projects for children in orphanages and were attached to dozens of children, taking care of them.
The court minutes go like this, for example:
"If the study of the Unification philosophy is your goal, then why did you stop it? Does it mean that your organization does not exist anymore?" asks the Prosecutor.
"Your honor," responds the student, "in 1996 the Justice Department considered it an illegal activity. We stopped it until the court considers our complaint about the Justice Department's warning of this and decides if it is legal or not. For now we are focusing our efforts on charity projects, hoping to practice the principles laid down in our bylaws."
"Well," concludes the Prosecutor, "if you do not study the Principle, then you do not need your organization."
One can see the attitude of the judge just by her refusal to accept into the materials of the case all the evidence and photos confirming the charitable actions of CARP.
By now all the parties have given their explanations. Tomorrow the questioning of the witnesses will begin. These are members of an anti-cult group, invited by the Prosecutor, who go from one court to another testifying about the horrors of brainwashing. CARP protested that the witnesses have a vested interest in the solution of the Prosecutor's case and solicited the court to dismiss the witnesses. If the Prosecutor wins, then they will not have to compensate CARP's legal expenses and will not lose their case against CARP. The court dismissed this solicitation.
The Second Week
The second week of the court hearing began on the 28th of September and was dedicated to interrogations of the anti-cult activists, who are witnesses in the court case, and their children, who are members of CARP. The court also studied the minutes of the members' meetings and membership forms produced by CARP which the Prosecutor alleged that CARP does not have.
Mrs. N. Russkikh, the chairperson of the Inter-regional Committee for Salvation from Totalitarian Sects, and her two deputies Mr. N. Babkin and Mrs. E. Chernikova testified about the horrors of "totalitarian sects" and the harm inflicted to the mental health of their children who "got involved in CARP by fraud." The activists appealed to the judges' patriotism and stressed that their children rejected traditional values, they became religious, quit their jobs and left home. They stated that CARP and the Unification Church were the same entity, which "brainwashes children and submits them to the will of foreigners -- the leaders of the sect."
The judge either dismissed the questions of CARP's lawyers to the anti-cult activists or answered these questions herself. The judge refused to accept as evidence the results of the court-psychiatric expert examination of the CARP members. According to its results, the children of the witnesses were found to be totally sane. At the same time the court accepted as evidence a letter of Father Oleg Stenyaev, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church and the head of the Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Non-Traditional Religions, and various other negative evaluations of the teachings of the Unification Church.
Both the Prosecutor and the Justice Department representative actively supported the activists. Moreover, the Justice Department officially stated that in 1991 when registering CARP, they had no idea about its ideology. After a book of Unification Church teachings was presented to the court, the Justice Department said that they are not familiar with it. They could not answer the question about how it was possible then to register an organization that according to its bylaws studied this very book.
Because the anti-cult activists insisted that this literature was harmful, CARP solicited the court to accept as evidence a resolution of criminology experts who found no such harm in the literature of CARP. The court refused.
After this the children of the anti-cult activists were questioned. They clarified that they had voluntarily joined and after that left the student association. They explained that when they were members of CARP, they attended its meetings, visited orphanages and took part in other charitable programs, and studied the teachings of the Unification Church. All this was in accordance with the bylaws of CARP. Both Ms. Jane Russkikh and Ms. Olga Stepanova attended the seminars of CARP with the permission of their parents. Their testimonies did not help the Prosecutor to liquidate CARP. It became obvious, and the judge began asking them about why they changed their system of values. After CARP's lawyers began interrogating these witnesses, both the judge, the Justice Department and the Prosecutor experienced a shock. Jane Russkikh testified that the Prosecutor calls her mother every day and discusses the development of this court case. The judge interfered and said that these calls have to do with informing the witness about the time of their interrogation. Jane Russkikh objected, saying that this would not have taken 30 to 40 minutes every day, as the conversations actually took. She was asked, "Do you know who supplies finances for the Committee for Salvation from Totalitarian Sects?" and answered, "As my mother told me, the sponsor is the City Hall of St. Petersburg." Her mother was present at the interrogation and did not refute this statement. The interrogation of the witnesses invited by the defendant was immediately interrupted.
The defendant expressed the opinion that the court is biased, referring to the judge's negative statements toward the Unification Church, the judge's juridical assistance to the plaintiff and the Justice Department's inability to answer the questions of the defendant by themselves. It caused CARP to demand that the judge be dismissed. The court refused to satisfy this claim.
Nevertheless, the next day the judge gave the Prosecutor two months, obliged the Prosecutor to specify the claims of the liquidation suit and postponed the case until Nov. 30.
Let us conclude. After two weeks of the court hearing, submission of all the evidence and interrogation of all the witnesses invited by the Prosecutor, reasons for the liquidation of CARP were not found. The Prosecutor received a time-out and an opportunity to reformulate the liquidation claim. CARP was obliged by the court to submit a new portion of documents, which is not required by any law. Among those are the registration documents of the Unification Church in Russia and the USA, the list of missionaries of the Unification Church in St. Petersburg, the list of members of St. Petersburg CARP throughout the history of its existence, including information about their addresses, jobs and occupations. Judging by this, the Prosecutor may continue looking for compromising material against CARP. The Prosecutor originally demanded the liquidation of CARP in March 1996. Not being able to provide the proof in September 1998, the Prosecutor is receiving more time to prepare.
IV. The October 1998 Hearings
On the 15th October 1998 in the Admiralteyski Court of St. Petersburg, Russia, the hearing took place of the Unification Church affiliated youth organization CARP vs. the Justice Department of St. Petersburg City Hall. Following the demands of anti-cult activists, the activities of CARP were examined by the Justice Department at the end of 1995. Based on the results of the examination, the Justice Department warned CARP that it considered its liquidation possible because it supposedly conducts illegal activities.
Following Russian Law, CARP considered the warning to be groundless and illegal and disputed it in court early in 1996. Art. 239-6 of the Civil Process Codex obliges the court to process the complaint within 10 days. The Justice Department was supposed to produce evidence to serve as proof for its warning. The representatives of the Justice Department never came to the court or submitted any documents. The students requested that the hearing begin, but in vain. The hearing only took place on the 15th October 1998. During the hearing the Justice Department neither produced any evidence nor was able to answer any of the questions of the representatives of CARP about specifically what law was violated and how. The representative of the Justice Department only stated, "We know that CARP is not a good organization, but we cannot prove it."
Seeing that the allegations against the student organizations were not supported by anything, the judge did not make any resolution, but suggested that the Justice Department prepare better for the new hearing appointed for the 27th October 1998.
On this day the same court will hear the complaint of the believers of the Unification Church of Reverend Moon about the same Justice Department's refusal to register their religious community. This case has not been given a hearing for almost 3 years although it should have been heard within 10 days.
This very warning to CARP is used by the Prosecutor of St. Petersburg in his liquidation claim in the City Court of St. Petersburg. It is evaluated by the court as valid and serves as evidence, because it is not found to be disavowed by the Admiralteyski Court as illegal or lacking a basis. Thus the Admiralteyski case is being postponed to let the City Court liquidate CARP on the basis that this warning was a legally valid one. Thus both the Prosecutor and the Justice Department are interested in delaying the 27th of October case in order to use the warning to liquidate CARP in the City court case postponed until the 30th of November for the same reason as the Justice Department's. The Prosecutor did not provide evidence of illegal activities of CARP for its liquidation.
A possible the reason for the tactics of the court is in the visible dependence of the judges on the Justice Department. According to Russian Law, the Justice Department appoints staff for the courts, takes care of the financial and material security of the court system, deals with complaints about judges, and organizes qualification examinations when the judges are appointed to the court.
V. The November 1998 Hearings
On the 19th of November, 1998 the Dzerzhinsky Federal Court of St. Petersburg resumed the first stage hearing of the civil case initiated by the Inter-regional Committee for Salvation from Totalitarian Sects against the Collegiate Association for the Research of the Principle (CARP, a Unification Church affiliated organization) with the aim of liquidating this organization and receiving compensation for alleged moral distress.
The suit was submitted to the court in 1995. At that time CARP's lawyers pointed out to the court that a public organization has no right to attempt in a court of law to liquidate another public organization. This can only be done either by the prosecutor or the Department of Justice as the registering organ. Claims for compensation for moral distress are acceptable only from the individuals who experienced moral damage and never from organizations. It means that when he accepted the suit, the judge violated the Law. Nevertheless, for more than three years the court conducted hearings of the case. This case was specifically referred to as proof of the malevolence of the Unification Church in various official documents such as the Analytical Newsletter of the Federal Duma, informative materials of the Ministry of Health and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This investigation by the Dzerzhinsky Court was also given as a reason for refusing to register a branch of the Unification Church in St. Petersburg.
However, at no time during the hearings did the plaintiff provide any proof of illegal activities by this youth organization. On the contrary, a psychiatric examination of members of CARP proved their sanity. The criminologists who examined the doctrinal literature of the Unification Church found nothing of a criminal nature either in books by Rev. Moon, or in brochures and other literature. It became obvious to the court that the claims of the Inter-regional Committee for Salvation from Totalitarian Sects should be dismissed. And so it was reminded about the procedural norms regulating the processing of lawsuits submitted by an improper plaintiff. According to Art.129-1 of the Civil Proceedings Code, the judge should refuse to accept such a suit. If the suit was accepted by mistake, then the process is to be stopped on discovering the mistake.
Another factor that should have been helpful in discovering such a "mistake" were the documents found by CARP of some of the sources of finance of the so-called public committee. As soon as the suit was accepted by the court, the Inter-regional Committee started to receive financial support straight from the St. Petersburg City Budget. Its financing was fixed as a separate item in the city's expenditures. Thus the fight of Mrs. N. Russkikh and Mr. V. Babkin for "salvation from totalitarian sects" was directly paid from the city budget not counting the support received from the Prosecutor and the Justice Department.
It also became clear that the anti-cult activists constantly avoided actually participating in the court hearings under various pretexts. First they asked for more time to clearly specify their claims, although this was never done. In 1996 they solicited the court to conduct a psychiatric examination of members of CARP and postponed further hearings until the result was available. In their Statement No. 10253/20 the experts explained why the examination took so long: the third party in the court process and representative of the Inter-regional Committee, Mrs. N. Russkikh, did not provide the necessary material for a long time (13 January, 1997 - 17 June, 1997), and later "escaped from participating in the expert's work." The length of the court's psychiatric examination was also due to the Inter-regional Committee's failure to make the payments necessary for the expert examination. By law it is the soliciting party that should pay and even though the Committee produced in court letters guaranteeing payment, the payments were not made. In the end the psychiatric examination was performed at the expense of the State. On the 19th of June, 1998 the plaintiffs made a statement in the court that as their lawyer was absent at the hearing they could not properly defend their supposedly violated rights. CARP then proved that the contract between the Inter-regional Committee and its lawyers had been discontinued since summer 1997. With the support of the court, the Committee for the Salvation from Totalitarian Sects used various pretexts to postpone the hearing. The reason was simple; the State financing might end.
In this way the court had more than enough evidence of the absurdity of the suit. On the 19th of November 1998, CARP produced documentary evidence showing that the so-called "distress" of the parents who were demanding the forced psychiatric hospitalization of their mentally-healthy adult children, "brainwashed" by the Unification Church, was being financed out of the budget of the city of St. Petersburg, a subject of the Russian Federation. Then, in order to save the Committee from losing to CARP, the court used a technical device to declare that the case should not even have been started. Thus the case was dismissed as having been improperly brought.
Although the three year long court case was closed by the court, it was not highlighted by the State or the mass media. Nor has CARP received any compensation for its substantial legal expenses. Instead, the members of the anti-cult committee are still having their say as witnesses in the Prosecutor's case. He is demanding the liquidation of CARP although in fact his case has also been postponed for an indefinite period. Early in October 1998, the City Court of St. Petersburg almost heard the whole case but postponed it because the Prosecutor was not properly prepared. So the court suggested to the Prosecutor that he prepare and produce evidence. On the 30th of November 1998, the case was taken off the court schedule for no apparent reason and is now postponed indefinitely.
Thus the legal controversy between the State represented by the Prosecutor, the Justice Department, the Committee for the Salvation from Totalitarian Sects, and a student organization sharing the doctrine of the Unification Church continues. It would be naive for Russia to expect that law will triumph. Even if one is critical of the religious doctrines and the practices of the Unification Church, it is hard not to see which forces are discriminating against the freedom of conscience. The fighters for authoritarian values and nationalism are supported by the State which has already abandoned its declared liberal-democratic principles. Xenophobia and religious intolerance prepare the way for totalitarianism.
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