Lev Semenov (Russia)

University professor, Ex-Moonie and Priest

My experience within the hierarchy of the Moon cult

during its years of expansion in Russia and in the CIS


Dear ladies and gentlemen!


I spent six and half years in the Moon cult. Having become a member on July 1, 1990 I signed an application of total break-up with the cult on October 14, 1996. In this period of time, I have been promoted from ordinary member all the way up in the cult hierarchy in the CIS and Baltic countries. On my numerous public reports after I had left the cult, my audience would most frequently ask two questions. How I had entered the cult and why I had left it.  Anticipating these questions now, I would like to answer them briefly in the first part of my report.


In June 1990 – being an associate professor at Tver State University – I was urgently called by the deputy rector who offered me to take part in a conference in Sofia. Thus, I was officially sent to Bulgaria to an introductory seminar of the Unification Movement. I considered myself a Christian, but as a vast number of Soviet people, I wasn’t baptized. So, as I was not practising Christianity, I certainly wasn’t able to reason and act as a real Christian. Hence when studying the New Testament I was treating it not only as the Holy Writ but as any other historical text. It seemed to me that I could allow for unlimited freedom of interpretation. It explains why, when I came across a very untraditional treatment of the Bible in the Moon’s followers’ workshop, it seemed to me a curious play of mind. This unusual interpretation was interesting to me from a Biblical historiography point of view.


The second reason was due to the fact that I felt sympathy for dissidents in Soviet times and disliked the communist ideology. When I learned that Moon was called «the first (that is, the main) anticommunist on the planet», it had awakened my deep sympathy for him and a wish to enter his Movement.


Just within several months, I was appointed a National Educational Department Advisor, then an Inter-religious Relations Department Director, entered the Unification Church Board in Russia, and finally during last two years and half, I was Vice President of this Board. Twice I was officially offered to be the head of this Board.


How did my disenchantment with Moonism start and why did I delay my break with the cult for so long? The higher I climbed up the hierarchical ladder, the fewer secrets remained for me in the «inner kitchen» of the cult. I was discovering the hypocrisy and insincerity of its leaders. The last “straw” that broke camel’s back was a new task that I was given. The cult leaders felt Moon’s teaching was deeply alien to Russian cultural tradition. In order to convince Russians to the contrary, I was given the task to become the leader of the group of authors. Our mission was to create a book on the history of Russian culture. In this book, we had to find whatever possible points of Russian tradition that could be associated with Moon’s ideas. Russia saw the Orthodox Church as the base for its culture for the whole Millennium. That is why I started studying the Holy Fathers’ Works. The depth of their thought amazed me. At the same time, it made clear the primitiveness of Moon’s theology. These are therefore the complementing answers to the question why I had decided to quit Moonism.


The reason why I had not done it immediately will be seen later. I realized that I made a mistake and entered a terrible cult. But I understood that I had to redress a wrong done to my compatriots because during years of my work there, I could have influenced some of them to enter the cult. Then I decided not just to leave but also to unmask this totalitarian cult. However, my exposures wouldn’t have had the same weight without documentary evidence. Therefore, I was collecting papers and other proof. My high position in the cult made available many of its secrets to me. Having stayed until late night at the central office, I have photocopied a lot of papers. So, after I had left the cult, I used these as proof in the series of open letters, articles, and reports at different conferences. These papers and material became the base for my book about the Moon cult, which I am going to finish this year.


There is one circumstance, which persuades me that I had chosen the right way to act. In seven years, which have passed since my first public statement against Moon and Moonies, they did not attempt to deny any of my accusations. Every accusation is based on concrete facts and documents that are impossible to deny. Now let’s get directly to the theme of my report.


As is well-known, «the Moon Empire» includes about 200 independent projects – religious, political, cultural, educational, media, industrial enterprise, etc. However, all these organizations are controlled by Moon’s trusted people taking (often privately) prominent positions within the Unification Church hierarchy which is a stem for all the Unification Movement. The main (if not the only one) goal of the host of those projects – is to promote Moon’s ideas and to create an authority among the public worldwide. Moon himself, in a speech in Korea, in April 2005, «revealed» his «coronation as the King of the world and Universal Unity»; and it was announced to the Russian Moonies’ gathered in Moscow, July 19, 2005, that Moon and his wife «are the ‘Saviour’, ‘Messiah’, King and Queen of humankind from now on».


All this could have been just another classical case for psychiatry textbook’s megalomania section. However, Moon and his closest surrounding continue fulfilling with scaring persistence these plans of world domination – for many decades. A huge social threat was posed by active penetration of the Moon cult in many Russian federal ministries or their institutions, including not only the Ministry of education, but the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Defense Ministry, and both Houses of the Russian Parliament – the State Duma and the Federation Council – in the early 90-s. In some cases, the same situation continues in Russia nowadays.


The list of public officials and well-known politicians involved at different times and on various levels in Unification Movement events is indeed long and impressive. It consisted of both former and presidents present at that time, prime ministers, ministers, prominent parliamentarians, diplomats, political parties’ leaders, public figures, famous scientists. Among them – Soviet Union (afterwards Russia), USA, UK, Japan, some South American, Bielorussian, et cetera, politicians. Their direct involvement in Unification Movement events (mostly gigantic shows) promoted Moon’s global «peacemaker and unifier» image, whilst letting him, as a cult leader, camouflage the systematic breach  of human rights in respect to ordinary cult members; that means essentially isolation from family, friends, tough informational blockade, loss by cultists of their former social status, their complete financial dependence, depriving them of normal sleep, food limitations, denying them the free right to choose their own spouse.


Based on my personal experience of those years, and on documents (including confidential) which I had access to, due to my position in the “Moon Church” hierarchy – in Russia, I disclose the nature and methods of Moon’s cult penetration inside the State, parliamentary, and public structures.


It is crucial to understand how Moon’s cult is so successful in involving the prominent politicians and in penetrating inside higher state institutions. To clarify this, let’s describe the situation as a whole. As far as I speak mostly about political component of cult’s activity now, I’ll describe Moon’s projects in the political realm. I am sorry for the dull monotony of the list. But hopefully it helps understand something.


The Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy, founded in 1982. It focuses on important domestic and foreign policy issues. Among politicians whose direct participation in some public activities of this Institute is confirmed documentarily, we see the following personae:


Dr. Eugene Rotow – former Director of the U. S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

Mr. Charles M. Lichenstein – former U. S. Deputy representative to the United Nations.

Stephen J. Solargz – member of the U. S. House of Representatives.

Eduardo Ulibarri – Editor-in-chief, Costa Rica newspaper «La nacion Jose».


CAUSA International, founded in 1980. According to Moonies, this organization’s aim was criticizing Marxism-Leninism, its ideological and political faults, human rights protection, struggle with totalitarianism, help in establishing societies of freedom. By the end of 80-s, the CAUSA International has conducted workshops in more than 30 countries. The similar goals were pursued by the International Federation for Defeating Communism organized by Moon in 1960-s.


In this case the goal officially advocated by cultists appeared attractive. However, it reveals the readiness of blatant intrusion in the inner affairs of countries with political regimes or ideological climates inappropriate for Moon. This alone sounds alarming and one wonders about the character and methods and activities of the Moon organizations scattered around the world.


An example of such a direction is Moon’s Citizens’ Federation for Motherland Unification established in 1987. Its official aim is re-unification of South and North Korea and the creation of a “free and fearing God state”. Moonies didn’t conceal that they had been constructing House of Prayer for Re-unification and Educational Center for Re-unification “close to 38th parallel”. As is known, here lies the border between the two Korean states. One cannot deny that regardless of the attitude to the North Korean regime, such construction works close to border look dodgy and could be qualified as direct sabotage.


Quite ominous sound the words said by Moon in one of his speeches before his followers: “The whole world is in my hand, I will conquer and subdue the world… the time will come for my words to become almost a law”.


Let’s look at Russia. Missioners of the Moon cult had started their undercover activities in Russia back in 1970-s. In those times this consisted of foreign missioners’ sporadic visits to USSR, they were recruiting adherents clandestinely. Since 1983 the Moonies’ penetration tactics had involved insertion in our country of reliable and experienced members of the cult, specially trained for undercover work. They were coming as interpreters working for organizations operating jointly with foreign countries (like Peter Ladschtaetter, Austrian citizen), foreign language teachers in Moscow institutes (Monica Kunde, FRG citizen), or businessmen (US citizen Thomas Lorita) etc.


1990 was the year that marked the Moonies’ shift to overt activities in our country. In April Moonies have managed to conduct the 11th International Conference for Mass Media Workers (under cover of their World-wide Association for Mass Media Workers – and with considerable assistance by the then Novosti Publishing Agency). During the Conference, Moscow hosted an impressive descent of totalitarian cult leaders headed by “Reverend” Moon himself and his fourth wife Hak Ja Khan Moon. Not only have they actively communicated with the Soviet community representatives and establishment, but also were granted audience with President Gorbachyov.


The April meeting of Moon and Gorbachyov opened the way for broad and effortless cultists’ penetration in our country. Already in 1990/91 academic year three thousand students and lecturers from Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Tver, and other Soviet Union cities were taken to the USA for two weeks introduction workshops, the cult covered all the expenses. The main part of the work with them in America was thoughtful intensive brainwashing to make them adhere to Moon’s ideas. No surprise that the first cadres of professional Russian managers for the Moon cult were recruited from these three thousand people who had visited the States – Universities did their best to select the best students for the trip.


Following the same scheme the totalitarian cult tried to attract prominent representatives of our society elite: the USSR people’s deputies, scientists, journalists, etc. For example, in December 1990, 23 deputies participated in the American Leadership Conference in Washington, 50 deputies attended the next similar Conference conducted in February 1991, and the First World-wide Leadership Conference gathered about 200 USSR Supreme Soviet deputies from all 15 Soviet Republics. Those who visited the USA or the so-called introductory workshops organized by the Unification Movement, series of which was conducted on a grand scale by Moonies in ex-Soviet countries’ capitals, quite often have become the agents of influence by the totalitarian cult, “working off” attention paid to them and the big sums in dollars spent on them.


Of course, cultists have boosted their proselyte activities in USSR territories and later in Russia. In May 1992 they had succeeded in registering the “Unification Church” at the Russian Federation Ministry of Justice; in April 1994 was created the Student Interuniversity Association for the Study of the Principles, and the Women’s Federation for Peace Worldwide was registered in June 1994. Over 100,000 Russian citizens visited Moonie seminars during 1991-1993. Those seminars were held in the best Baltic and Crimean health centers. Mostly high school and University teachers, lecturers, and students were among those who attended Moonie seminars. Specialized seminars for Russian Universities Rectors and mass media workers were held in the summer of 1993 in Crimea. Cult leaders planned organizing special seminars for the Russian Federation Ministries of Defense and Internal Affairs Ministry.


As a result of the planned cult activity, a certain circle of engaged people had appeared who were able due to their official or social position to lobby interests of the Moon cult. From the very onset, Moonies have striven to establish a bond with the Russian Federation State Committee for Higher Education. A cultic program for sending dozens of Russian students to study for free at Bridgeport University (Connecticut, USA) had been used as a convenient ground – Moonies had purchased its control packet of shares just before that. With all this going on, the Moon cult paid 80 thousand dollars for a-four year course for each student. Moonie leaders made a tricky move by allowing the candidates to be selected – guess by who – the  Russian Federation State Committee for Higher Education! Russia PR office Director gladly reports to his transoceanic patrons (and employers): “Sending more than 20 students from Russia to Bridgeport University due to the support of the Committee for Higher Education, we managed to guarantee them backing our course. We meet Mr. Bratkowsky and Mr. Guriev (former Vice President for RF State Committee) rather often, and they help us with invitations and multiple entry visas” (extract from Head of PR office report, February 20, 1993, section d) Committee for Higher Education).


Following their favorite principle of leaning on «prospective» members of society, Moonies turned to the Russian Ministry of Education. Quite soon several people become friendly – ranging from departments staff members to Vice Minister A.G. Asmolov, responsible for high schools. With direct support of the Ministry, Moonies managed to conduct simultaneously over 15 workshops “Spiritual Renewal and High School Education in Russia” in November 1992. Workshops took place in the best Crimean health centers. 21 people from each 89 Russian Federation subjects have attended those workshops – all sponsored by the cult. At this workshop cultists pushed forward the infamous course “My World and Me” – targeted at high schools. This course has been introduced at more than 2000 Russian high schools starting from September 1993. Republican Workshops for teachers of Tatarstan (Kazan), Kalmykia (Elista), and other republics and regions were conducted for mass introduction of this Moonie course in the schools.


Having strengthened their positions inside the system of the Education Ministry, Moonies set out for Russian State force agencies. The General Department for Executing Punishments became the first victim of their penetration. With the support of Colonel Dolgikh – the then Head for GUIN MVD RF – Moonies conducted several events on a federal scale. Introducing one of those workshops (in Obninsk, on July 7, 1993) Colonel Dolgikh claimed in a clear-cut military fashion addressing to Vice Heads of detention camps and Directors of schools attached to them, that from now on all pedagogical work must be conducted … according to Moon.


His subordinates were fast to react. In a short while, Moonies had the opportunity to conduct several workshops for deviant juveniles, their parents and staff members in those correctional institutions, Moscow regional Iksha correctional institution has become one of the favorite grounds for cultists. In 1994, Moonies actively took part in the Home Affairs Ministry program «Teacher of the Year» at Novotroitsk correctional institution, Mariy-El Republic. In 1995, similar event had taken place in Kamyshin correctional institution, in the Volgograd region.


Same introductory workshops were conducted for Home Affairs Ministry officers in 1994. The cult leaders were happy to receive at their disposal the second section of methodological book “From experience of learning and pedagogical work in correctional institutions schools. Part 3” issued by General Department for Executing Punishments and Republican Institution for MVD officers Improving Qualification in 1995. Moonies titled their section “My World and Me – The Path to the Heart of an Inmate”.


The goal desired by Moon – who had created the gigantic network of his “World Empire” – was world domination, the real political power in bigger geographic areas – the bigger the better. A.V. Zhukov writes in abstract to his PhD theses on Moonies’ activities in Russia: “the main strife of Moonies’ organization leaders remains the struggle for spiritual, economical, and political power worldwide…” (p. 13). The direct confirmations of Moon’s clandestine thoughts are his own confessions. Already in his speech “The History and Our Responsibility” delivered on July 16, 1978, Moon promises his followers: “In the future, the whole world will depend on us”.


With this in mind, the concrete moves made by Moonies in Russia look scary. After the Home Affairs Ministry, they turned to the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense. Thus, some higher rank officers of Military Academies and representatives of different military state organizations – such as Association for military, political, and historical research, “Army and Society” association, Federation for Peace and Concord – came under the influence of Moon’s cult. Thus, the Moonies’ Conference devoted to elaboration of special learning program and textbook on so-called “Military ethics” for students of military academies has been conducted at the Military University MO RF (ex-Military Political Academy) on October 1994.


Inspired by the successful start of penetration into the Russian Army, Moonie leaders in Russia report to their transoceanic boss about the favorable situation for the further penetration into the army structures: “Religious boom in this country has created the wide field for activity of the Fund (i.e. “Inter-religious Educational Fund”). One of the examples is introducing the post for Army officers responsible for relationships between the Army and religious organizations. Such post exists in the Russian Army since July 1994, with some 90 officers appointed. But none of them clearly understands how to execute this duty. The same post will be introduced later for lower ranks, and hundreds of officers will need instruction and education in the area of religion and inter-religious relations” (Report on inter-religious work in Russia in 1995, written on November 1994, section 4). The cited fragment of the Moonies’ report makes one think not only about the skillful use of the current situation, but the striking familiarity with inner Army cadre procedure…


In November 1994, the Moon’s Unification Church took part in a big Moscow Conference organized by the aforementioned Federation for Peace and Concord and Association for military, political, and historical research. The invitation to take part in the Conference has arrived at the International Religious Fund addressed to P. Ladschtaedtter. It was an official letter from the Federation and the Association signed by their Heads. Following Conference outcomes, the book “Religions and Safety of Russia” has been issued; were an article by the Moon’s church leaders in Russia has been published. They tried to impose on the military their own model for spiritual feeding of the soldiers, which supposed direct participation of Moonie cultic preachers.


Very indicative is the letter sent by the Army and Society Association to Moon personally as a commemoration of his church’s 40 years anniversary celebrated by cultists on May 1994. I will cite some remarkable details of this message distinguished by an extremely loyal attitude to Moonism’s leader, and signed by the President of the Association, General-Major Tchaldymov. The General stressed that Association, which he headed “supported the Russian Government in reforming the Army in the spirit of perestroika ideas started by Mikhail Gorbatchyov”. The following phrases deserve to be reproduced verbatim: “Having been introduced to ideas of your teaching by representatives of your Church in more detail, we have found our basic moral goals consonant with yours. On March 26-29 me and my colleague – the Head of «Army and Religion» research center – have been given the honor of participating in the Second Conference for Peace Worldwide (that is, Moon had covered all the expenses for their stay in the US for the Conference). Conference outcomes and your ideas’ discussion allows for hope to join efforts with the Unification Church in the name of values common to all mankind”. There’s no need to comment on those statements by fortunately only a few representatives of the then Russian Generals.


The Moonie missioners approached the structures of the Foreign Affairs Ministry as well. For example, the RF Foreign Affairs Ministry Diplomatic Academy has conducted the International student Conference on leadership jointly with the CARP Moonie youth student organization on February 1995, at Moscow State University. The Cult has sponsored Russian, US, Chinese, North and South Korean, and Japanese students’ participation in it. The tradition of bond between elite Russian Universities, which grow future Russian diplomats, and the Korean-American cult has put down roots and is still alive. There is information on the Internet about Moon’s upcoming visit to Moscow. Some well-known professors, like Konstantin Dolgov and Vladimir Petrovsky, lecturing at those elite Universities had taken part in the International Leadership Conference conducted by Moon in New York on 10-14 September 2005, and then had read their reports at the Moscow Moonies’ office right after Jack Corley, the big cultic functionary.


Not only has Moon’s cult been purposefully and consistently penetrating inside the ministries and state bodies, but it also has been systematically advancing towards higher representative bodies of Russia and its Presidency. Of course, here Moonies couldn’t get the biggest figures, but nevertheless they have managed to involve some medium range officials who served as the source of effective intelligence and as agents of the cults influence, lobbying their interests; which have quite justified cultists’ expenses. I’ve already published some facts about involvement of Federation Council Consultant, few deputies of the RF State Duma and their assistants, member of the RF President Administration Analytical Center for general politics, Council members for religious expertise, Professors of religious study, legal experts, and some experienced lawyers, functionaries of all sorts of human rights watch organizations, and other volunteers – who nevertheless mostly acted on commercial grounds.


The Moon cult has been actively penetrating inside Russian federal structures – this fact illustrates the hugely dangerous potential of this totalitarian cult.


Of course, Moonies paid much attention to media, struggling for their positions in Russia. In this respect, very indicative are their bonds with the Media Empire of Gusinsky. In my publications I have already stated about Moonies’ leaders’ contacts with Mr. Gusinsky as the MOST bank President, and about their contacts with Russian Video Company notorious for lawsuits. At that time Moonies were regularly broadcasting programs (on Tuesdays – for one or two hours) for Moscow and neighboring regions due to agreement with the then operating private Resonans radio station. Cultists planned to expand their radio broadcast to cover the European part of Russia or even the whole ex-USSR territory. The far-reaching plans of the totalitarian cult included creating its own Moscow based TV station with powerful modern equipment for satellite TV broadcast for “the whole ex-Soviet Union territory”. There were also ideas of creating a Russian project, which would have cooperated with similar Moon’s enterprises in the fields of TV, video and radio already operating in Japan and the USA (a report is available which was sent to Moon’s New York Headquarters about PR-activity in Russia for the time span of December 1992 – February 1993). There always were people ready to do favors for Moon in the Soviet and then Russian central television, in the biggest printed media and publishing houses (in the early 90-s among them were such serious companies as Izvestiya, Literaturnaya Gazeta, Respublica publishing house – former Politizdat).


Consequently to strengthening their positions in power and force bodies, in the mass media, having the necessary support from Moscow scientists and lawyers, Moon’s cult tried to become a coordinator of all totalitarian cults active in Russia. I have passed a revealing paper some time ago – a letter from Vladimir Kuropyatnik, a leader of Scientology Church Moscow branch, which he had sent to Moon personally on February 27, in 1996. The letter is dedicated to cooperation between Moonies and scientologists. I’ll cite one passage from this message: “We are adamant, extremely adamant, and we will achieve our goals – despite anything. Your goals – are ours likewise”.


Speaking about the Moonies’ activity harm to Russian society, we see the threat to national safety on three levels: individual, family, and society at large. I won’t be stopping on each of the three levels now, I’ll just state briefly that human personality becomes dissolved and loses its individual features, turning into a typical “Moonie” under systematical cultic brainwashing. Such «zombified» executor is ready for mindlessly accepting any directive and implementing any order of totalitarian cult leader. A hooked person loses all his or her former social bonds, falls out of professional activity quite often, becomes totally dependent on cultic leaders who even choose a spouse for him or her.


Moonies have caused much harm to many Russian families. And many young people have left home and their parents under the influence of cultic propaganda. This has led to creating self-organized public parents’ committees for saving youth. Those parents – whose children came under fake sympathy influence of cultists – have once heard from their children that they were just “physical parents”, whereas “Reverend” Moon and his wife Hak Ja Han Moon were their “true parents”. Not less troublesome cases for the parents happened when their children studying at the Universities were abandoning their studies – sometimes just before graduation. Many of those young people abandoned both studies and their parents, leaving families for the Moonie “centers”. Not only parents were losing their children, but young men were leaving their brides as well.


Nor less is the scale of Moonie expansion for the Russian society as a whole. Moonies have come to Russia in early 90-s, ready to fill in the “ideological gap”, which appeared after the breakdown of the former ideology. Profiting of the people’s natural thirst for spirituality of which they were deprived for a long seventy years, Moon’s missioners started invading this “market”, relying on his Empire’s multimillion dollar power and using the whole arsenal of influence methods elaborated by cultists during years of their existence outside Russia, feeling sort of “spiritual colonizers”.


No surprise that the aforementioned “Principle” has presented modern Russian readers (children and grandchildren of those who had paid with their blood and life for victory over fascism in the Second World War) the following “historical discovery” being an organic part of the new “messiah’s” teaching: the Second World War was a battle of “Heavenly troops” represented by the USA, Great Britain and France with “Satanic forces” – that is Germany, Japan and Italy. What has been said about the Russian peoples’ contribution in defeating the Nazi beast? Just that the Soviet Union had “happened to be on the Allies” side, led by the United States and England…”


I’d like to hope that all these facts cast light on Moonie activities, methods, and reveal true nature their action. This activity is aimed at world dominance. Of course, this maniac Moon’s idea is doomed.  But this doesn’t lessen the real danger of the cults’ penetration inside different countries state bodies.