Russia lifts ban on Scientology books

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Russia has lifted its ban on the works of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, ruling that his controversial teachings were not "extremist" in nature, the group said Tuesday.

The justice ministry revoked its ban after a court in the eastern Siberian city of Surgut reversed a 2010 decision proclaiming the literature as potentially harmful to Russian believers, the Church of Scientology said.

The group welcomed the decision, but said in a statement it was still concerned about the number of banned books in Russia, with "the ever-growing list of extremist materials now embracing over 800 titles."

Since its founding in Los Angeles in 1954, Scientology has been recognised as a formal religion in the United States but is still viewed as a sect in some European countries.

Its teachings of immortal aliens and interplanetary life descending on Earth have encountered repeated problems in Russia, a predominantly Orthodox Christian nation that also formally recognises Islam, Buddhism and Judaism.

Russia has twice been fined by the European Court of Human Rights for refusing to register Scientology churches as religious organisations.

© 2011 AFP

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