ST. PETERSBURG, April 19 (RAPSI, Mikhail Telekhov) - The St. Petersburg City Court has again extended detention for the Church of Scientology of St. Petersburg leader Ivan Matsitsky and the religious group’s chief accountant Sakhib Aliyev charged with extremism and illegal business operations, Aliev’s defense attorney Yevgeny Smirnov has told RAPSI.

The ruling on the detention’s extension has been issued because the defendants have not finished reading case materials yet. According to the lawyer, the defendants refused to study case papers yet in October, but investigators insisted that the materials be delivered to the detention center.

As of today, they are held in detention for nearly two years.

In March 2018, searches were conducted at the premises of the Church of Scientology of St. Petersburg. The raids were directed to identifying more items and documents confirming the criminality of the religious organization leaders’ actions, the FSB press-service said.

According to investigators, from 2013 to 2016, the organization received over 276 million rubles (about $5 million) for rendering its services. However, the Church of Scientology of St. Petersburg has not been incorporated under the law, an FSB representative said in court earlier.

Three other defendants in the case are the organization’s executive director Galina Shurinova, chief of the official matters department Anastasia Terentyeva and her assistance Constance Yesaulkova. They have been placed under house arrest.

Dianetics and Scientology are a set of religious and philosophical ideas and practices that were put forth by L. Ron Hubbard in the US in the early 1950s.

The scientific community never recognized it as science.

A resolution passed in 1996 by the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, classified the Church of Scientology as a destructive religious organization.

The Moscow Regional Court ruled in 2012 that some of Hubbard’s books be included on the Federal List of Extremist Literature and prohibited from distribution in Russia.