Putin Activists vs Scientology

In the wake of the “Anonymous” internet war against Scientology, a further move against the Church, this time in Russia:

More than 700 activists of Rossiya Molodaya (Young Russia), a youth group, were joined by students and lecturers of Moscow’s Bauman State Technological University (MGTU) in a rally on Friday to demand that a Scientologist office located in the vicinity of MGTU be shut down.

The claim, as ever, is that Scientology wants to “brainwash” people, which is rather ironic given that Young Russia is one of several “Putin Youth” movements. Mishchenko has led nationalistic protests on various issues (recently he was burning Estonian flags); a recent article from the Los Angeles Times explains the MGTU connection:

Across town, in the headquarters of Young Russia, students are shooting pool and plotting their next scandal.

These are radical Putin activists…They have taken over a prime piece of real estate, a sprawling building that was once a bar at the edge of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University campus.

“We kicked the owners out,” leader Maxim Mishchenko said casually.

Mishchenko doesn’t mind boasting about the influence and wealth commanded by his group members. His power flows from thuggery and connections.

Barely out of law school, Mishchenko is expected to get a seat in the parliament this coming term.

“We’re talking here about a civilised protection racket,” Mishchenko says, cool as ice. “If they don’t give us money, we attack them.”

Attacks, he explains, entail blocking roads or holding protests outside shops until they are forced out of business.

It would be interesting to know the extent to which the MGTU has been brought under the control of pro-Putin elements; as I blogged last year, to the disgust of students the Moscow State University is now a propaganda outlet for pro-Putin conspiracy theories and ultra-nationalism.

Name variations: Maksim Mishchenko, Maxim Mischenko, Maksim Mischenko, Maksim Mishenko