CESNUR - Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni diretto da Massimo Introvigne


Odessa: No Parking for the “Cults”



In June 2018, The Journal of CESNUR published a special issue on the Applied Sciences Institute, an organization founded by Dr Oleg Maltsev and headquartered In Odessa, Ukraine. On July 13, 2018, it was involved in a bizarre incident, which deserves some attention.

The principles of the Applied Sciences Institute apply to a variety of fields, including the practice of law, and their network of organizations and companies include a law firm called Redut. Outside the law firm, there is an area that belongs to it. They believe they have a right to put there devices preventing persons not authorized by the law firm from parking, which they did. The City of Odessa thinks otherwise, and they asked the law firm to dismantle the devices.

They refused, and the following day they sent 20 municipal guards in camouflage plus 20 plainclothes agents to forcibly dismantle the devices, which employees of the law firm protested. Journalists of the “Unsolved Crimes” newspaper, which is located nearby and is also part of the larger Applied Sciences Institute organization, came to film the scene. The municipal guards used tear gas to disperse the protesters, and both the journalists and one attorney were beaten with rubber clubs. One journalist, according to his own account, was taken away in a Municipal Guard car, beaten again, and thrown away on the road.

The spokesperson of the Deputy Mayor of Odessa issued a press release, where he justified the Municipal Guard’s activities by claiming that the Guard was attacked with a gas pistol (which is denied by the Redut law firm) and that those beaten belonged to the “Maltsev Cult.” This reference is crucial, as it shows that the disproportionate use of force in connection with a trivial administrative incident reflects the hostile attitude of the Municipal Guard and other Odessa authorities against groups designated as “cults.”

This is somewhat surprising, considering that in Ukraine in general a critical attitude prevails against anti-cult activities in nearby Russia, and attacks on the Applied Sciences Institute originated from Russian anti-cultists such as Alexander Dvorkin, who has been declared persona non grata in Ukraine and prevented from entering the country.

Three videos of the incident have been posted online: