Federal Security Service raid over a dozen locations in Moscow and St Petersburg as part of  an investigation into alleged illegal business dealings.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) said officers “conducted simultaneous searches” at 14 addresses in Moscow and St Petersburg as part of an apparent investigation into alleged illegal business dealings by the Church of Scientology in Russia’s second city.

“Objects and documents were found and seized that proved the version of the investigators about the marketing functions for goods and services of the Church of Scientology of Saint Petersburg in violation of the law,” a statement carried by Russian news agencies said.

Last November a Russian court banned the activities of the Moscow branch of the Church of Scientology after authorities argued in part that since it had registered its name as a U.S. trademark, it cannot call itself a religious organization.

Russia’s justice ministry has long been pushing to prohibit the organization, which some countries treat as a legitimate faith but others consider to be a cult.

The ruling last year by a Moscow city court came after a lower-level district court rejected the church’s appeal against a justice ministry’s decision not to register it as a religious organization.

The Russian justice ministry registers religious organizations as well as NGOs, a requirement for them to operate.

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Featured Image – Russian FSB, congratulated by Vladimir Putin – Creative Commons License, Wikimedia Commons