(Moscow, March 17) On March 16, 2001 the final hearing took place in the St. Petersburg City Court of two separate suits to liquidate the Collegiate Association for Research of the Principle (CARP), a public student organization founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The City Court rejected the claims of the City Prosecutor and the St. Petersburg Justice Department.
In July 1995 two anti-cult groups, the Committee for the Protection of Family and Personality and the Interregional Committee for Salvation from Totalitarian Sects, simultaneously launched suits at the Dzerzhinsky District Court of St. Petersburg, seeking to liquidate CARP and demanding compensation for supposed moral damage. CARP was accused of "destroying the genetic fund of Russia," turning its members into "zombies" and hindering their intellectual development. The plaintiffs demanded a total of 80 billion rubles (approximately $13 million in 1995 dollars), which they claimed was necessary in order to establish rehabilitation centers providing psychiatric aid to the "victims." In the course of the hearings the court ordered a psychiatric evaluation of the CARP members whose parents had instigated the suits. The evaluation found the CARP members to be mentally healthy and competent. In addition, criminal experts who studied CARP and Unification Church literature found nothing unlawful in their teachings or activities. A criminal case began against CARP, only to end in May 1999 when it became obvious that CARP had not committed any crime.
Because of that, the anti-cult committees ceased to press their suit. At the same time, documentary evidence was presented by CARP proving that the lawsuits of the parents were actually being paid for by a special budget from St. Petersburg City Hall. In other words, the St. Petersburg City Hall was financing activities that could have resulted in the forcible commitment to mental institutions of adults whose beliefs differed from those of their parents. Later, under pressure from the anti-cult committees, the Prosecutor of St. Petersburg submitted a liquidation suit against CARP.
This new case got under way in October 1999 when the Justice Department of St. Petersburg joined the City Prosecutor with its own claims to liquidate CARP, on the grounds that CARP had failed to re-register by the July 1, 1999 deadline, as stipulated by the new Russian Federation law "On Public Organizations." In fact, during that very time period, the Justice Department had unlawfully refused all CARP attempts at re-registration.
On November 5, 1999 the St. Petersburg City Court rejected the suits of the City Prosecutor and the St. Petersburg Justice Department to liquidate CARP. The court's decision was appealed in the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, was nullified, and yet another court inquiry was arranged in the St. Petersburg City Court. On March 16, 2001 the City Court held a new hearing of this case and, against the recommendations of the Appeals Board, decided to reject the suits of the City Prosecutor and the St. Petersburg Justice Department. Finally, dramatically turning the tables, the St. Petersburg City Court demanded that the Justice Department register this organization of young followers of Sun Myung Moon.
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