Russian News Service Interfax Pushes “Ukrainian Prime Minister Is a Scientologist” Claim

From Russian news service Interfax:

Acting Ukrainian president is a pastor and its prime is a scientologist

…Acting President, speaker of the Verkhovnaya Rada Alexander Turchinov is a Baptist pastor and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is a scientologist. His sister chairs a major scientologist organization in the USA, Ukrainian media write.

The slippage from “is a scientologist” in the headline to the qualifying “Ukrainian media write” is somewhat anti-climatic. In fact, Turchinov’s association with the Baptists is already well documented, but Yatsenyuk is actually a Greek Catholic.

Tony Ortega looked into the Scientology claim towards the end of last month, and contacted  Yatsenyuk’s niece about it. She was direct:

“That’s crap,” she said. “We don’t even know what Scientology is.”

The story appears to go back to a 2009 article by a certain Igor Davydov, posted to a Russian site called Materik. Davydov, without feeling any need to provide documentation, explained that Yatsenyuk regularly meets David Miscavige, that he is OT-6 and that his sister Alina is OT-4, and that the Church of Scientology collects intelligence on behalf of the CIA.

The following year, a site called Discussion Club-SUMMIT published similar claims in a piece by Maxim Terekhov called “Does the Fighter Against Corruption Belong to a Sect?” The post has since been deleted, but is available on Wayback. According an automatic translation into English (tidied slightly):

In May of this year in the Ukrainian Internet, it was reported that A.Yatsenyuk is an adept of the international totalitarian sect “Church of Scientology”. It is reported that he graduated from a Kiev school of Dianetics and joined this organization in 1998, as a consultant to the credit department of the bank “Aval”. In the same year he signed a contract with the so-called Maritime Organization – the elite structure “of the Church of Scientology.”

From here, the story made its way into English via Wikipedia (relevant paragraph since deleted), where it recently inspired a certain Tom McGregor (a self-described “conservative Republican” who works for China Radio International) to compose an article for a site called Dallas Blog. However, McGregor decided the story needed spicing up with a bit of added conspiracy-mongering, resulting in the wonderful headline “Soros Hires Scientologist to Conquer Ukraine“.

The Scientology claim has also recently resurfaced on a Russian site called Nakanune, under the headline “Who is Behind the Bandera Nazis?”. The article is full of dark hints about “neoconservatives”, “Zionists”, and the “Jewish lobby”, and about Victoria Nuland’s Jewish heritage.

It is true that Yatsenyuk has a sister who lives in the USA, and the whole Scientology conspiracy theory appears to have been extrapolated from this mundane detail.