Russia has banned Scientology from operating in the country on the grounds that it could represent a “security threat”.

The organisation was included in a list of banned groups released by the Justice Ministry on Friday, October 1, shortly after the Prosecutor General’s office advised that some groups associated with Scientology should be banned.

Two groups, the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises International (WISE) and the Church of Spiritual Technology (CST), both based in California, were officially blacklisted.

The action was taken after the Prosecutor General deemed them to be a security threat to Russia, adding to the blacklist of organisations, which now stands at 49, RT reports.

The Church of Scientology in California

This now means that the group cannot practise in Russia, and existing chapters have been shut down and assets frozen.

The ban comes after a long effort against Scientology in Russia, with initial moves being taken against the cult in 1996 before the 2010s saw significant actions carried out against the Church of Scientology, including the Moscow branch being shut down in 2016.

Several investigations were also carried out, with authorities looking into allegations of extremism and illegal business activities.

The Church of Scientology was originally founded in the 1950s by American science fiction novelist L. Ron Hubbard, and although it’s rarely recognised as an official religion in countries, it can obtain tax exemption, which has drawn criticism.

Despite branding itself as a new religious movement, critics have labelled it a cult.