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Church of Scientology Moscow and Others v. Russia, No. 18147/02, ECtHR (First Section), 5 April 2007


Bad-faith refusal to register a religious organisation. Association arbitrarily stripped of its legal-entity status. Prevention of a religious organisation from exercising its religious activities.

Normative references

Art. 11 ECHR

Art. 9 ECHR


1. A restriction of a religious association’s ability without legal-entity status to exercise the full range of religious activities amounts to an interference with its right to freedom of association as well as with its right to freedom of religion.

2. The refusal to register a religious organisation is unjustified if it is not proven that the community as a whole or its individual members breached domestic law or any regulation governing their associative life and religious activities.

(In the present case, Russian authorities refused to process applications for registration of the Church of Scientology of Moscow required by domestic legislation, on account of the alleged failure to submit certain documents and sufficient information on its religious creed and practices).


The ECtHR unanimously found that national authorities, by denying registration, did not act in good faith and neglected their duty of neutrality and impartiality vis-à-vis the applicant’s religious organisation, thereby violating article 11 read in the light of Article 9 of the Convention.