Once Russians were free to worship openly again after decades of religious suppression, they began to restore their ruined churches to their former glory—and Moscow abounds with them. Framed by an arched entrance is St. Basil’s Cathedral.
In December 192, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health was published in Russian. 210,00 copies were sold out within weeks.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 merely replaced one form of oppression for another. The Tsarist regime was put down by revolutionaries who claimed to be fighting for freedom, but who themselves became the oppressors inflicting torture and death on millions.
For more than 70 years, 286 million marched to the drum beat of Soviet Russia, applauding the speeches on cue and taking their state-appointed places in the factories or collective farms. Slavery to the state and loss of personal freedom became the norm and freedom of speech was a sure road to execution or banishment.
To further enslave their citizens, the state even wiped out religion from the face of the land. The government owned the individual, dictating to him what to say and think and destroying any personal initiative and self-determinism he may have had. These were the darkest years of Russian history.
But, in 1985, the more benign policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) were introduced in an attempt to modernize the country and make it more democratic.
In this climate, with communication finally possible between east and west, Europeans began visiting Russia, bringing with them some cherished books—one of them a copy of Dianetics, in German. And so, Dianetics had arrived in Russia. Wanting to share the miracles of Dianetics with new friends, they translated the book into Russian and copies were soon passed between friends. One of these books made it into the hands of a St. Petersburg student, Galina Shurinova: “We came upon a translation of the book and started to audit each other.” And in this manner, the first pioneer groups sprung up. (Galina is now the Executive Director of St. Petersburg Org and was awarded the IAS Freedom Medal in 2000 for her pioneering work in disseminating Dianetics and Scientology in Russia.)
With the opening of the lines with the West, Russian publishers were eagerly looking to introduce classic books to their public, none more so than Dianetics, which had topped bestseller lists for decades.
In 1991, twenty top Russian press editors and journalists attended a week-long conference in Copenhagen where they were presented with the broad spectrum of LRH’s works.
Just a few days after the editors arrived back in Russia the coup against the USSR’s communist regime began—a coup which led to the collapse of communism and the break up of the Soviet empire. At that point, things began to move very fast.
Dozens of articles about LRH technology appeared in major daily and weekly papers and on radio and TV shows reaching over a billion people. Russian publishers signed contracts for the publication of LRH’s books in Russian. In December 1992, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health was released. The first run of 210,000 copies sold out in weeks and a reprint had to be ordered to fill the demand.
What followed was a true Dianetics boom in Russia. Dianetics seminars, attended by 300-400 people each, were delivered in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Within a year more than 2,000 people had started their first service and thousands of hours of Book One auditing had been delivered. Dianetics Counseling Groups started up in 5 different cities in Russia, and by June 1993, the first missions were established in Moscow and St. Petersburg, forerunners of the great orgs they are today.
[Image caption: Following the publication of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, 300-400 people packed Dianetics seminars in Moscow and St. Petersburg every week.]
In August of that same year the first Sea Organization Base was established in Moscow to create a strong point from which LRH technology could be brought to Russian people fast enough to supply the demand. Within a short time people were arriving from all over Russia for training either as supervisors or auditors so they could return to their areas and form groups. Each week, between 200 and 300 students were studying basic administrative courses, Life Improvement courses and the Hubbard Dianetics Auditor Course.
In its first year and a half, the Moscow mission grew to more than 100 staff under the direction of Flag-trained Executive Director Vladimir Kuropiatnik (who was later awarded the IAS Freedom Medal in 1996). The inflow became so great that with every square foot packed, students were spilling out into local apartments.
In January 1994 the Church of Scientology of Moscow was registered as a religious organization. This launched even greater expansion and success. Vladimir held packed-out seminars in the church every single weekend, then, in a bigger space outside the mission, he and his team gave lectures every Sunday to over 300 attendees. At the same time the Church was delivering up to 600 hours of Book One auditing each week. The successes mounted throughout 1995 and 1996, with more TV shows, huge seminars and for the first time anywhere, a new method of dissemination: selling Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health on Russian trains with staff moving from car to car giving lectures on Dianetics and selling up to 1,000 books per week.
Of course, this much success and expansion would not go unnoticed. While millions of Russians were discovering for themselves the long denied truth about the human spirit, others had a different idea: there should only be one church in Russia and that was not Scientology.
The blow was struck in 1997 when the Russian Duma (Parliament) passed a suppressive religious law channeling power to the “traditional” religions in Russia (most specifically the Russian Orthodox Church) and to eliminate the “new” religions that had been springing up in the country since 1990 when the freedom of belief had been constitutionally restored to the Russian people.
What followed were a series of attempts to stop Scientology in Russia from expanding, but in spite of all the ongoing attacks, the Moscow Church flourished and prospered, expanding more than ever before. In June 2002, it became a Class V org and just one year later reached Saint Hill size.
On 5 April 2007, the European Court of Human Rights delivered a landmark judgment in the case of the Church of Scientology of Moscow, maintaining that what had ensued was a violation of fundamental rights guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
But this judgment went much further than guaranteeing protection for Russian Scientologists— it also established new standards of religious freedom for not only every Russian citizen, but for the 800 million Europeans residing in the other 45 member states of the Council of Europe.
Since then, outgrowing its premises, Moscow org moved six times from smaller, to larger and even larger facilities between 1999 and 2011. Until at last, the final move took place on 26 February 2011 when the new Ideal Org of Moscow was opened—thanks to IAS members’ support world over.
[Image captions: On 26 February 2011, a new era dawned for Russia as the IAS-sponsored Ideal Org in Moscow was officially opened. Despite freezing temperatures, thousands of Russian Scientologists attended the opening ceremony celebrating the first Ideal Church of Scientology in Russia.
Traditional Russian dancers performed at the Grand Opening of the Moscow Ideal Org.]
Though the outside temperature was well below freezing, 2,000 people gathered outside the building at 9, Taganskaya Street, exhilarated, awestruck and overjoyed at the spectacular opening of their new Ideal Org.
This singular event in the history of Scientology in Russia was recognized by several distinguished guests who spoke of not just the local importance but the global impact of the opening of the Moscow Church.
After the ribbon was cut and the balloons flew upwards, the throng of attendees crowded their way through the entrance of their new Church.
A prominent building with its unique shape and exterior design, the new Moscow Ideal Org is housed in a 65,010 square feet building located in the center of the city only 1.7 miles from the Kremlin.
On this historic occasion many Russian Scientologists were eager to say what they thought of their new Ideal Org, which they considered a gift from the IAS and Scientologists from all around the world.
Vladislav Nikolaevich Tomashov was born in the city of Riga, then a part of the USSR—now Latvia. He started his Scientology route in St. Petersburg Org where he studied the Student Hat and The Basics. Now he lives and works in Moscow and is a Sponsor of the IAS.
“I was at the opening and I saw lots of people all so inspired, all so happy. I think the potential is just huge, particularly because the building is right in the center of the city.
“I am so proud that I did at least something to make this building a reality, and now I see that it is not something somewhere else, not theoretical, not in some other country, but here, in reality, in present time, something we can use. This is just superb. Thank you to the LAS. I can say only the warmest words.
“I want to say thank you very much to everyone who contributes to the IAS. Now I know how significant they are. One of the best possible investments is to help the IAS. The new Ideal Org is such an exchange in abundance that I have no words to describe it. I want to motivate everybody, inspire them to do their next step for the IAS.
[Image caption: On the day of the grand opening thousands of Russian Scientologists and friends toured their new Ideal Org.]
“There is a better future for Russia now and for the people who live here. I hope that Russia will again prosper and that people will say that ‘Russia is a cool place’, ‘It is so good that I was born here’, ‘It is so good that I live and work here and that I get auditing or training here’, ‘It is good that I found Scientology here’, and so on. The point is that, thanks to the IAS, we are doing a lot for Russia.”
For Anton Lychkin, Executive Director of the Church of Scientology of Moscow and an IAS Sponsor, the opening of the new Ideal Org represented a dream come true.
“We’ve been going toward this goal for a very long time and finally it has happened,” Anton said, “For me this represents an entirely new stage of the life of Scientology here in Moscow. If we take a little broader look, it affects not only Moscow, and Russia, but also the planet, because how things are going in Moscow determines to a large degree stability in the world.
“When you are on the front ranks of planetary clearing, when you know that the destiny of millions of people on this planet depends on you, on one hand it is a big responsibility, but on the other hand it is a matter of great pride. When I come to my post I feel that the org is my home. It is the best place to be. It is another day, we have things to do, let’s move ahead, full steam. The public feels this, too.
“For Russia the opening of an Ideal Org denotes an entirely new future. Yes, we are here; yes, we are serious; yes, we are here for a long time, and we want to clear everyone, now and forever.
“When I became a staff member 18 years ago we had just started our work. All we had was a few staff members and our own translation of one course. Now we have everything we need for uninhibited future expansion.”
For Alexander Tkachenko, an IAS Silver Meritorious from Moscow, the opening of this Ideal Org signified a new stable datum. “We are not alone in Russia and Scientology is here forever,” he said.
[Image captions: With its twenty auditing rooms and spacious lounge, the HGC rapidly filled up with preclears while the Chapel hosted its first Sunday Service.
The new Ideal Org of Moscow is located in the very center of the city, where Russian Scientologists are now moving up The Bridge to Total Freedom.]1
The new Moscow Org with its large Public Information Center is ideally located near two major metro stations, making it readily accessible for all Muscovites.]
“Some time ago I made my newborn baby an IAS Patron at Flag. Before that I made my elder daughter a Patron. Today I have two daughters who have a chance to be free, to live in a free country, free from oppression, free with all their rights.
“So I consider any donation to IAS is one more step to freedom. My wish is that every Scientologist today, tomorrow and each day, will go up and up in status. Each one, each time is a new step taken toward our freedom.
“IT IS THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF IAS MEMBERS THAT HAVE MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR THIS IDEAL ORG TO BE BORN IN RUSSIA.” –Alexander Neverchanny, IAS Member
“The IAS is the future for my children and great-grandchildren to be free and happy,” he concluded.
A new IAS Member from Moscow, Alexander Neverchanny expressed his excitement: “What this opening really means is an ideal future for me and for all people who are living in Russia. It is a good future in which people are going to find out about Scientology.
“It is the contributions of IAS members that have made it possible for this Ideal Org to be born in Russia,” Alexander explained. “This is what my friends and I have been waiting for, for a long time.
“An historical event has just happened, of the same magnitude as the discovery of fire or electricity, but even that is not enough to describe it. It is the beginning, I am absolutely sure, of a huge positive future for the whole country and for the whole Commonwealth of Independent States.”
The true spirit of Russia is a constant striving for freedom–a striving that will continue at a whole new order of magnitude in their new Ideal Org, a rock-solid stable datum, for all Russian Scientologists. This is what the IAS has made possible.2