Russian court detains alleged organizer of Aum Shinrikyo cell
MOSCOW, May 4 (RAPSI) – The Basmanny District Court of Moscow has ruled to place Mikhail Ustyantsev, an alleged organizer of a Russian cell of Aum Shinrikyo organization prohibited in Russia, in detention, the Investigative Committee’s press service reports Friday.
On May 1, Ustyantsev, 46, was arrested in Russia’s Volgograd during a meeting aimed to involve local citizens in illegal activities of the organization and receive money from them, the statement reads.
According to investigators, the suspect was in contact with unknown Japanese leaders of Aum Shinrikyo quite a long time, prepared and held the organization members' meetings in Russia and coordinated fundraising and cash management.
In 2016, the Russian Supreme Court declared Aum Shinrikyo a terrorist organization and banned its activity in the country.
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.
Now operating under the name of Aleph, the cult is still in business and is believed to have between 1,000 and 2,000 members in Japan.