An Illinois man has been charged with threatening to shoot Scientology Leader David Miscavige.
Andre Barkanov, a 47-year-old resident of Illinois, was arrested and subsequently charged on the suspicion of making threats to assassinate David Miscavige, the leader of Church of Scientology. Threatening calls were also directed at other affiliated church members, as per a Los Angeles court papers filing.
Barkanov allegedly made a number of phone calls to the principal telephone line of the Church of Scientology. He vowed not only to kill Miscavige, but also other top members of the church. He also threatened to kill all church members. The threats were supposedly first made on June 21, 2015. There were a total of five dialed calls. The duration of these calls ranged from a few minutes to one continuing for about three hours. The individual also warned and ordered members to “quit the church, before something bad happens.”
David Miscavige is the ecclesiastical leader of Church of Scientology. He is also the chairman of the board of the Religious Technology Center, the entity holding rights to the trademarks of Scientology and Dianetics. The latter is a self-help system created by L. Ron Hubbard, an American author. Hubbard's writings would later be the scriptural basis of the global church. Miscavige became head of the Church of Scientology after Hubbard died in 1986.
It was reported that the Church of Scientology receptionist who answered the calls was described as frightened and shocked to the point that she could not say a single word to the caller. She was afraid that Miscavige’s life was in danger and immediately informed LAPD about the call. A day later after this report, Kendrick Moxon, the church’s attorney, and Kirsten Pedersen, the director of security for the church, met the LAPD Hollywood police, as per the affidavit. The two gave the police transcripts of phone calls and recordings. There were eight more calls made on July 23 to the church. The last call explicitly threatened Miscavige with being shot in the forehead.
After his arrest, Barkanov was slapped with a total of 12 felony counts. These include the making of criminal threats and one of stalking. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and is now held in the LA County jail. The bail amount has been set to $600,000. A public defender was assigned to represent Barkanov.
Barkanov has never been a member of the organization and the motivation for the threats has not yet been determined. A spokesperson for the Church of Scientology, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times speculated:
“From what we have been told, his actions appear to have been incited by anti-Scientology propaganda. This case involving an apparently unstable man who told police he was incited by anti-religious propaganda shows the dangers of bigotry and hate spread by irresponsible individuals.”