MOSCOW, November 26 (RAPSI) - The South District Military Court on Thursday senteced Mikhail Ustyantsev, an organizer of a Russian cell of Aum Shinrikyo organization prohibited in Russia, to 15 years in high-security prison, the Investigative Committee’s press service reported Thursday.
The man was found guilty of creating a terrorist community, organizing activities of an organization banned in Russia and NGO infringing on human personality and rights.
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.
Investigators accused him of contacts with unknown Japanese leaders of Aum Shinrikyo quite a long time, preparing and holding the organization members' meetings in Russian cities and coordination of 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.