Viktoriya Tretiakova

Ukraine, honorary lawyer and professor

Need for joint action of the State and the society, as well for adoption of international legal instruments for protection of human life and health from negative impact of destructive and extremist cult organisations and movements


In the modern multiethnic and multicultural society an individual has an increasing urge for new spiritual quests. Unfortunately, behind the façade of a new movement, new spiritual or cultural organisation, to which an individual comes due to the innate interest to novelties, he or she often falls into traps of dangerous entities, which have been created for profits and ambitions of their leaders. Therefore, instead of totalitarian nonreligious organisations that established themselves as totalitarian cult entities in 1950s-1990s, new structures mushroom now in different forms: spiritual and cultural centres, sport and recreation centres, educational establishments, ethnic movements, network marketing and advertisement organisations. Very often on top of such organisations are people suffering from schizophrenia. You should not forget that many famous leaders of mass movements also suffered from mental illnesses. Due to poor psychological protection of the population of different countries and their insufficient awareness on the everyday level of the danger of external psychological influences which everyone can face, many people, especially children, teenagers, youth, have become victims of such influences. Consequences of such influences are suicides, criminal offences, in particular violent attempts on life and health of others, terrorist acts, often committed by “zombied” persons, who do not control their actions. Even though such organisations often change names, forms and localities, their content and interests remain unchanged. To stop them by law becomes more and more difficult, if possible at all. The evidence for bringing them to liability and terminate their activities is usually weak. It is almost impossible to prove that a person has become a victim of psycho-violence, when they “voluntarily” donate their property to the organisation or directly to its leaders, when they commit suicides, or perform aggressive and even criminal actions, which are not usual to them. Only people very close to them can notice such dependence, inadequate behaviour, loss of self-control over one’s actions of persons who trapped in webs of “psycho-spiders”. Thanks to close friends and relatives and their insistence and wish to help, the public hears the facts of criminal activities of destructive organisations of different types.


At the same time to eliminate such evil, to stop spreading of this “virus” by existing means is impossible. Because, I said before it is very difficult to prove the existence of psychological influence. Moreover, it is almost impossible for a person who has been influenced to recover. To stop such person from dangerous deeds is also impossible since he or she is manipulated by “psycho-spider”, whose actions are uncontrollable.


Negative consequences of activities of totalitarian cults, destructive non-traditional religious movements in Ukraine were particularly manifest back in the first half of 1990-s. It was seen in the activities of the White Brotherhood that damaged lives of thousands of girls and young men in our country, of which we talked at our meeting of the Berlin Dialogue back in 1996, when the legal proceedings against the leaders of this totalitarian organisation had just finished.


Concerning the dynamics of growth in number of cult structure in 1996, it demonstrated that the number of such organisations in the early 1990-s had increase from 79 in 1992 to about 350 in 1996.

In 1996 the new Constitution of Ukraine was adopted. In accordance with requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Article 35 of our Constitution provided for freedom of thought and religion.


This right includes the right to practice any religion or not to practice any, freely, either alone or in community, to practice religious cults and rites, conduct religious activities.


The Constitution separated church and religious organisations in Ukraine from the State, and the school from the church. The Constitution also proclaimed that no religion can be acknowledged as a compulsory by the State. The Convention provided that persons of age for military enlistment, who object to military service for religious convictions, could replace the military service by alternative (non-military) service.


And even though the Constitution, namely the second paragraph of Article 35 contains provision that free following of any religion, and free practice, either alone or in community, of religious cults and rites, and conduct religious activities can be restricted by the law in the interests of public order, health and morals of population or protection of the rights and freedoms of others, the vague and general nature of this provision made it next to useless in practice. Of course it is a pity that the State, the legislature, adopted the Constitution the same year, as the legal proceedings against the “White Brotherhood” (1996) had not, as yet, drawn any conclusions about the terrible consequences of the above cultic organisation for society, since thousands of young people that had been trapped into the “White Brotherhood”, ended up by the suicide or by the treatment in a mental hospital.


Furthermore, after adoption of the Constitution, the activities of non-traditional movements and cults in our country were considerably boosted. The following figures show this: in the first year after adoption of the Constitution (1997) the number of non-traditional cult organisations was 399, in 2000 – 1034, in 2001 – 1328, in 2003 – 1617.


After adoption of the Constitution, the Criminal Code provided liability for violation of citizen’s rights on the basis of their religious convictions (Article 161 of the Code) and liability for attempt on human health under the pretext of practising religious rites (Article 181), but actually after the trial over the leaders of the “White Brotherhood”, the cult organisations acted freely and confidently under protection of Article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine. And they have not simply become more active they are “mushrooming”.


At the same time the important element of this situation is penetration of representatives of destructive cult organisations into the highest bodies of public power and local self-government. With support of such people, including financial assistance, even world-wide notorious reactionary, dangerous extremist organisations like the Aum Shinrikyo and Scientology, are registered in our country. They create numerous spiritual centres, training non-governmental organisations, that having correctly registered statutory documents and are free to act on the territory of Ukraine.


In the previous legislation of the Verkhovna Rada ( Ukraine Parliament) there was an attempt to pass a law on orphanages run by NGOs, behind which one can easily guess involvement of cult organisations. And this is despite the fact that the Constitution of Ukraine provides for the State’s obligation to care for orphans and children whose parents have been deprived of their parental rights. Despite this obligation introduced by the law at governmental level, assistance by some international organisations run by NGOs have already started appearing.

There is an increasing penetration among the believers of foreign missionaries, mostly from the United States of America. Destructive neo-cultic organisations keep easily registering in our country. The figures I mentioned before concerns only registration of religious neo-cultic structures. But their real number is several times bigger, because a majority of them registered as NGOs of cultural or educational nature, or with other humanitarian orientation, as well as sport, health, or spiritual centres, in which the same dangerous destructive forces are hiding behind innocuous labels.


Another intriguing observation of what is taking place in the country: the official structures supposed to monitor the effects of such extremely dangerous, destructive cultic and “spiritual”, “humanitarian” organisations on life, health, and mental health; the danger of their existence for society at large, the obstacles that such organisations and movements create for healthy populations and their vitality, do not pay or do not want to pay attention to this situation, they do not think of the danger for society, they “cooperate” with these dangerous forces under the pretext of Article 35 of the Constitution and Article 9 of the Convention on Human Rights, forgetting about the need sometimes to apply restrictions provided for in these Articles.


On the contrary, any attempts in the society to understand the activities of cult organisations, to identify the more destructive ones among and to prevent their spreading in society, to prevent their destructive influence on the psychology of children and youths, are strongly opposed by scholars, specialists in religions, as well as officials of ministries and departments who should not only control registration of these organisations at early stages of the latter’s activities.


Reading the works written by scholars, one can find attacks on representatives of NGOs, like “Help” that was created by relatives of children and youth that became victims of the notorious “White Brotherhood”. Protests of such NGOs against, for example, legalisation against organisations like Scientology, are considered by philosophers as simply parents disliking the idea that their relatives have chosen different religious rites. And they ignore the fact that there are thousands of persons, whose mental state suffered from the negative influence of the “White Brotherhood” and has never been restored, that on account of extremist cults thousands of ritual killings and suicides occurred.


I know several families of professors from Kiev whose children left this world after being attracted into some destructive organisations legalised in Kiev and other places in Ukraine. These organisations were officially registered as religious or ethical organisations. The law enforcement bodies were quite aware that the young people had died due to influence of destructive organisations, the investigation always concluded death due to an accident or suicide due to every day reasons.

Therefore, despite that the Criminal Code of Ukraine contains Article 181. Trespass against health of persons under pretence of preaching or ministering, which foresees that:

  1. Organizing or leading a group, which operates under pretence of preaching or ministering accompanied with the impairment of health of people or sexual dissipation, –

shall be punishable by restraint of liberty for a term up to three years, or imprisonment for the same term.

  1. The same actions accompanied with involvement of minors in activities of the group, –

shall be punishable by imprisonment of three to five years.


This article in practice is not used by investigative and judicial bodies. Different Satanist gatherings and ritual killings are classified as those not related to religious cults and rites. Therefore, existence of such articles in the legislation does not guarantee that the law enforcement bodies will refer to them.


I am convinced that such situation happens in other countries as well, because to prove that the harm to human life and health has been caused by the influence of destructive organisation or other dangerous psychological influence is very difficult. Therefore, in my opinion, society shall involve to the process of creation of the body of evidence scholars and practitioners of different fields: biologists, physicians, sociologists, and lawyers.

I know that the problem, related to danger coming from destructive organisations, extremist groups, which under the pretext of practicing religious worship, following pseudo-spiritual and ethical teachings, the label of psychological and sport training organisations, trade, cosmetological, cultorological and other non-governmental and commercial organisations, becomes global. Concealed and open danger of their activities, of their techniques, informational and advertising means, hidden advertising causes irreparable damage to humankind in general.


At the same time, the history of mankind demonstrates that the appearance of any dangerous illness always forced society to seek means to cure or prevent such disease. Similar to findings vaccines against this or that virus to stop or prevent spreading of this virus, a special “vaccine” should be found against psycho-violence, against zombing of a person, against dangerous manipulation of human beings, his or her mental state and conscience.


Taking into account that the problem of psycho-violence that leads to destruction of personality, makes a person a tool in the hands of psycho-manipulators, causes numerous crimes and like viral disease spreads across the borders and acquires new forms and modifications, has become a global problem, it is not very efficient trying to solve this through local means and through home legislation.


Therefore, it seems expedient to make an address on behalf of the national and international NGOs in Europe and worldwide to the parliaments and governments of the countries and to international organisations with a call for seeking and using radical means for prevention and overcoming the psycho-violence in the society.


I propose on behalf of the participants to address UN organisations like the WHO, UNESCO, UNICEF with the following proposals and initiatives, as well as to the Council of Europe and the OSCE and the parliaments of European countries with the following proposals:

  1. ON INTERNATIONAL LEVEL1) To initiate elaboration of an international legal instrument on behalf of all these organisations “On the protection of humankind from dangerous influence on human mental state by destructive and extremist organisations and movements”;2) To initiate elaboration of model project of a Code of Bioethics under the auspice of the WHO, for example, in which one of the chapters should regulate problems of prevention and protection of the human mental state against destructive and extremist influences in the society;3) To propose to the Council of Europe to elaborate Convention on protection of population of Europe against psycho-violence by destructive and extremist neo-religious organisations and movements;4) To propose elaboration, on the basis of an international programme, of universal biophysical, biochemical and bio-energy methods, technologies and equipment for revealing the hidden individual or mass influence on the human mental state at all stages of the process and means of protection of mental state of people from psycho-violence. 5) To elaborate a model Information note for population to warn everyone about dangerous external psychological influences and which could be disseminated free of charge in different countries in their respective languages and in all forms of information means.II. AT NATIONAL LEVEL 1) To initiate introduction in all educational establishments of the countries of the world special programmes on danger of psycho-violence, its negative consequences for the society and for individual human life and health, his or her property status, on signs by which “psycho-violence” and “psycho-involvement” could be identified.2) To introduce systematic educational programmes on the most wide-spread mass media, including Internet about the signs of psycho-attack on an individual, on different signs of psycho-violence, its consequences and danger for every individual and the society at large;To adopt at national level, in the countries which do not have it, a special law “On Mental Health of the Population”, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.


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