Pastor Stanislav Moskvitin is on trial in Omsk for allegedly converting his followers through “illegal psychological techniques” and “hypnosis”.
by Massimo Introvigné
On September 14, 2022, the trial of Stanislav Moskvitin, pastor of the “New Creation” Apostolic Center Church opened in Omsk, Russia.
On July 18, 2021, his place of worship, the basement of an office building in central Omsk, was raided by the FSB. Parishioners described the raid as quite unexpected. Masked security guards entered the premises of New Creation and arrested Moskvitin.
Moskvitin launched his church in 2014 and registered it in 2016, after training in Seattle, Washington, under Pastor Andrey Shapovalov, who leads the Transformation Center Church, a large non-denominational Slavic evangelical community. Shapovalov cooperated with Aleksey Ledyaev, the founder of the Latvian Church of the New Generation, whose Russian communities have recently been raided by the FSB and even accused of being involved in espionage and sabotage operations on behalf of the Ukrainian intelligence services.
Shapovalov and Ledyaev are both conservative evangelicals, who once praised Putin and Patriarch Kyrill’s stance on LGBT rights. However, since their organizations convert members of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) to their brand of evangelical Christianity, they are considered “totalitarian cults” by Russian anti-cult organizations, which are closely tied to the ROC.
New Creation is a member of the Russian Council of Evangelical Christian Churches. Moskvitin’s style of preaching is highly emotional, and parishioners describe miraculous healings and visions of angels, not uncommon among evangelicals and conservative Pentecostals.
Moskvitin is accused of illegally collecting funds for the construction of a church. However, even the authorities admitted that he maintained a modest lifestyle and it appears that the money was kept for the purpose for which it was collected.
The prosecutor thus uses against Moskvitin article 239 of the Russian penal code, which considers as a crime the organization of religious associations “harming the health of their members”. Increasingly, “health” is interpreted to include mental health and, with strong support from anti-cult associations, “cults” are accused of brainwashing.
The FSB based their raid on the theory that Moskvitin “used various psychological techniques to influence parishioners in order to subjugate them and make profit”. The FSB even claimed that “the pastor used several types of hypnosis: classical, fractional and Ericksonian”. This again shows the close cooperation between the FSB and anti-cult organizations, whose ideology is based on the idea that “cults” convert their “victims” through forms of mind control and hypnosis.
The scientifically discredited theory of brainwashing is now being used against evangelical churches whose activities even the FSB admits do not fall under Russia’s Extremism Law, which has been used to ‘liquidate’ Jehovah’s Witnesses and other groups. The Russian idea of “extremism” is broad, but when it fails to capture a successful group that converts Orthodox Russians, Article 239 comes to the rescue and the movement is accused of recruiting its members by washing of the brain or “hypnosis”.