Sectarians inundate grieving Beslan, seek new members

Jehova’s Witnesses and Scientologists have come to Beslan to create their image on people’s grief

Various sects have become rather active recently in Beslan, North Ossetia. Sectarians try to attract Beslan residents to their sects, as former hostages and their relatives recover from the recent horrible hostage crisis.

Jehova’s Witnesses visit the houses of Beslan and Vladikavkaz residents, as people mourn the victims of the tragedy. Sectarians come to people’s houses and ask them to join the sect in order “to save hostages’ souls.” They also come up to people in the streets and giving away literature and leaflets.

“Unfortunately, the Russian law allows members of various sects to work without any obstacles. The only thing that law-enforcement agencies can do is to register such facts and try to take measures against them with the help of the court,” Minister for Nationalities Taimuraz Kasayev told Itar Tass.

There are over 70 organizations registered in North Ossetia, which spread their religious views in the republic. The organizations are united in 15 confessions, North Ossetia’s Ministry for Nationalities said. “We have about eight thousand of Jevoha’s Witnesses and Baptists registered in the republic,” a spokesperson for the ministry told Itar Tass.

Unlike Jehova’s Witnesses, the sect of Scientology has not been officially registered in North Ossetia yet. Nevertheless, proponents of Ron Habbard’s Church of Scientology have settled in Beslan. When they arrived to the town from Moscow, they told the authorities that they were psychologists. Soon after that they inundated the republic with their massive books and launched a commercial on a local TV channel, calling upon people to come to the “center of spiritual assistance.”

The Beslan administration is being rather resolute as far as the matter of sects in the town is concerned: “Our policy on the issue is tough. We will not allow any sectarians at schools, we will not let them access our people either,” a spokesman for a public committee in Beslan said.

Spiritual leaders, doctors and law-enforcement agencies are concerned about the activity of religious groups in the grieving town. “Scientology is banned almost all over the world. They have nothing to do either in Beslan, in the republic or in the whole Russia. It is a very dangerous totalitarian sect,” archpriest Vladimir said. “Their objective in Beslan is to create their own image on people’s grief. This is totally unacceptable,” he said.

The Mufti of the local administration of Muslims in North Ossetia,
Ruslan Valgasov, agreed with the Orthodox priest: “This is a very sad phenomenon that we have to deal with at the moment. They are trying to reach people’s souls after such a horrible tragedy. It is a very easy goal to pursue, because they know that all people are seeking consolation. Muslim traditions have deep roots in Beslan. Unfortunately, we, as a religious organization, have failed to switch people’s attention on time. Sectarians are being very active and they have taken the initiative away very quickly,” the mufti said.

A spokesman for the Interior Affairs of the republic said that psychologists, who worked with the victims of the hostage crisis in the Beslan hospital, submitted an inquiry to the police: “Members of this religious group do not have a right to render psychological help to people, because they do not have a license for it from the Healthcare Ministry,” spokesman for the ministry’s press service, Alan Doev said. “We have a right to invite scientologists to ask them some questions, although we are not entitled to oust them from the republic,” said he.

Specialists of Serbsky’s Institute, who have been assisting the people of Beslan from the very first days of the hostage crisis, urged the authorities to protect the population from scientologists. “Their peculiar psychological influence makes people show aggression and inadequate reaction to others. Adults and children become subjected to outbursts of negative emotions. An individual comes out of control,” a psychologist said.

In the meantime, the complete forensic expertise of terrorists’ bodies, who seized the school in Beslan in the beginning of October, revealed that the majority of the terrorists – 22 people – had taken injections of strong drugs. The Deputy Prosecutor General of Russia in North Caucasus, Nikolay Shepel, stated that doctors had found morphine and heroine in the bodies of several terrorists.

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Pravda, Russian Federation
Oct. 18, 2004

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday October 18, 2004.
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