A Russian court has ruled that the Moscow branch of the Church of Scientology should be dissolved.
The Moscow city court accepted the arguments of Russia’s justice ministry that as the term “Scientology” is a registered US trademark, the Church cannot be considered a religious organisation.
The organisation plans to appeal, reports said.
The court set a six-month timescale for the Church to close, the ministry said.
The Church of Scientology, founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, has run into legal trouble in several countries around the world. Critics describe the organisation as a worrisome cult, but it is formally recognised as a religion in some countries.
Critics say that it is a cult and that it scams its members, while supporters maintain that it provides spiritual support to its followers.
Meanwhile in Brussels, a Belgian prosecutor has asked a court for the dissolution of the country’s branch of the Church of Scientology, in a trial relating to allegations of fraud, criminal organisation and illegal medical activities, Belga news agency reported.
The Belgian trial draws on evidence gathered over the course of 20 years.
The European and Belgian offices of Scientology, and 11 of its members, stand accused of activities including the use of potentially harmful substances during initiation rituals, the publication of false job openings and the violation of privacy laws, Belga reported.
The hearings are expected to continue into December