Investigation into alleged leader of Russia’s Aum Shinrikyo cell completed
MOSCOW, March 26 (RAPSI) – Probe into Mikhail Ustyantsev, an alleged organizer of a Russian cell of Aum Shinrikyo organization prohibited in Russia, has been completed, a statement of the Investigative Committee’s press service reads.
The case has been forwarded to a prosecutor for the indictment to be approved.
The man stands charged with creating a terrorist community, organizing activities of an organization banned in Russia.
Ustyantsev, then 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 on May 1, 2018. Several days later, he was placed in detention upon a Moscow court order.
According to investigators, the defendant was in contact with unknown Japanese leaders of Aum Shinrikyo quite a long time, prepared and held the organization members' meetings in Russian cities and coordinated fundraising and cash management from 2010 to April 2018.
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.