Scientology is nothing more than a "brutal, totalitarian sect" which defrauds people out of money, the Russian Orthodox Church has said, in comments reported by the Rosbalt news agency.
A representative of the missionary department of the St Petersburg diocese, Archpriest Georgy Ioffe, said yesterday during a press conference that all the Church of Scientology's methods were artificial and created "to drain money from people."
He added that "quite a large number of people" had come to the St Petersburg diocese, having suffered at the hands of the US-based Church of Scientology.
Rosbalt reported that Darya Varnovskaya, who spent spent time in St. Petersburg's Church of Scientology, said that its weekly revenue is between three and four million rubles ($48,000-64,000 or £38,000-£50,000).
But the news agency said that Varnovskaya suspects the true figure to be much higher, claiming that the church's international administration expects its St. Petersburg branch to earn 6 million rubles ($96,000 or £76,000)) per week.
The Scientology church's staff, meanwhile, earned just 10,000 rubles ($160 or £126) per week and faced "disciplinary action" if they were unable to implement "the plan," she said.
The Chairman of the Legal Committee of the Russian Association of Centres for the Study of Religions and Sects, Alexander Korelov, told Rosbalt that the Scientology church was "a typical example of an organised criminal organisation using religion as a cover."
Korelov claims thet through "centrally run" housing cooperatives in Moscow and St Petersburg, the church of Scientology has defrauded victims out of "billions of rubles".
Russia's Justice Ministry has previously attempted to prohibit Scientology, which is a recognised religion in some countries but considered by many others to be a cult.
In June, arrests were made when police raided the Scientology church's offices in Moscow and St Petersburg in connection with illegal business dealings, the Moscow Times reported.