Investigators launch case over Aum Shinrikyo activities in Russia
MOSCOW, April 5 (RAPSI) – Investigators have launched a case over illegal activities of Aum Shinrikyo sect in Russia, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told journalist on Tuesday.
According to Markin, searches are currently being conducted in Moscow and St. Petersburg in order to identify individuals who can be involved in the sect activities and to find literature, documents and other evidentiary items that are germane to the case.
Investigators assert that unidentified persons created religious groups of Aum Shinrikyo adepts in Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2011. Leaders of these groups exerted physical and moral coercion on people to take possession of their property. From 2012 to 2014, the sect raised money via Internet. Meetings of the sect members were held in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Aum Shinrikyo (Supreme Truth) was set up in 1987 by Chizuo Matsumoto (aka Shoko Asahara). It combined Buddhist and Hindu meditation practices and apocalyptic teachings and was believed to have between 30,000 and 50,000 followers, with more than 10,000 members in Russia, where Aum was engaged in missionary activity and economic enterprise. The sect was banned worldwide in 1995, with Russia leading the crackdown.
In 1994, Aum Shinrikyo members dispersed sarin gas in Matsumoto, Nagano, killing seven people. After the March '95 attack on Tokyo, police arrested about 30 of the sect leaders, some of whom, including Shoko Asahara, were sentenced to death.