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Appeal for protection of Hindu dharma in Moscow

Written by Yasomatinandana das Thursday, 13 October 2005

HH Bhakti Vijnana Goswami,

The President of Russian Society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON) Sanjeet


The Chairman of the Association of Indians in Russia


Dear friend! This an urgent request for help and support in a situation where

Hindu dharma in Moscow is now at stake!Without warning, on October 7, 2005 the

Mayor of Moscow, Mr. Luzhkov arbitrarily withdrew the decision of the Moscow

Government allocating land for construction of the Vedic Temple in Moscow.

Further, he issued an order of eviction to remove the devotees from the land,

with no alternative offered.

Please click here to read about the details! Contact us (click here!)





“Wherever there is Krishna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is

Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory,

extraordinary power, and morality”. Bhagavad-gita 18.78


A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada came to the West in 1965 on the order of

his spiritual master to preach Hindu Dharma far and wide In 12 years he

established 108 temples all over the world and made millions of people know

about the glories of Bhagavad-gita! Moscow, the capital of Russia has

been one of the most important cities of the world. Srila Prabhupada came to

Moscow to preach in 1971 taking risk of being persecuted by the KGB

Thus the ancient Vedic culture began to spread in the former Soviet Union.

Devotees of Krishna were harrased by the KGB… …but even in prison houses they

would make the beads out of some cloth and chant the sacred Hare Krishna

maha-mantra After an international protest campaign in 1988 in the

followers of Vedic dharma in Russia got official recognizion In 1991 they got

an old building from the Government… … which they turned into a nice

temple of the Lord

Presided by the Deities of Sri Sri Doyal-Nitai Saci-Suta…

The temple became a place of worship of both Russian devotees… …and

the members of the Indian community in Moscow In 2003 the Moscow

Government requested ISKCON to vacate their building. In exchange the Mayor's

office gave a plot of land… …for the construction of a new temple complex in a

prominent part of the city. The old building was immediately demolished.

Since October 2003 the temple activities have been conducted in a temporary

facility on the gifted land… … with the expectation of planning approval for a

new and wonderful mandir and Vedic cultural center. On the site there

was constructed a big pandal which in Summer time housed up to 1000 people Some

snapshots. Chanting in ecstasy… Prasadam.... Abhisheka…

Meeting with Ex-Prime Minister of India Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee Meeting with

President of Russia Vladimir Putin


Without warning, on October 7, 2005 the Mayor of Moscow, Mr. Luzhkov

arbitrarily withdrew the decision of the Moscow Government on the excuse of some

technical mistakes made in the wording of the deed of gift. Further, he issued

an order of eviction to remove the devotees from the land, with no alternative



This was done without any consultation or even clarification. Now thousands of

followers of Hinduism in Moscow can be legally kicked out from the temporary

facilities at any moment.

Please visit the Moscow Temple on the site www.moscowtemple.org to view the

details of this acute situation.



Now after thorough consultations with some of Moscow's most experienced

lawyers we are going to file a case against the MoscowGovernment and take it up

to the European Court.

Here is how you can help save the practice of Hindu dharma in one of the world's

most important cities:



1) Write a letter of protest to the President of Russia, Mr. Putin. This can

easily be done from his official site:



[NOTE: see bottom of this text for a sample protest letter]



2) Provide some urgently needed financial help by donating on-line (please

click here)

We need to raise $50,000 to pay the legal expenses in the upcoming court case

and even small help from many supporters will make a big difference in providing



Please join us in this rightful fight for the protection of Hindu dharma in

Moscow. Together with the blessings of the Lord we shall definitely win!


Having full faith in your support,



Sincerely yours,



Sanjeet Jha, Chairman of the Association of Indians in Russia,

Bhakti Vijnana Goswami, President of the Russian Society for Krishna



SAMPLE LETTER TO PRESIDENT PUTIN [This is one sample; you can change few

words or write your own heartfelt feelings about this sudden and arbitrary

reversal of the Moscow administration's decision]



Dear Mr. Putin,



I was very upset to learn that the land in Moscow given for the construction

of the new Vedic Hare Krishna temple has recently been taken away in an unfair

and unprecedented arbitrary decision by the Moscow government.


If this unrighteous decision is upheld thousands of members of the Indian

community and the followers of Hare Krishna in Moscow will have no place of

worship. This is a gross violation of their religious and human rights.


I hereby request you as the person who is entrusted to protect the law and order

in the country of Russia to please urgently investigate the situation and

reestablish justice.













Visit/forward this Link













A timeline of discimination against Hindu minorities in Russia




The late Swami Prabhupada, Founder of ISKCON travels to Russia - then the

worldwide seat of Communism, in 1971. At that time, all religious activity was

banned under the Communist system. Despite this, Hinduism began to “sprout

underground” as hundreds of Soviet people began to hear the about it incognito


1980 – 83: The KGB declare a “war” on Russian Hindus. As hundreds of

Russians started becoming vegetarian, giving up cigarettes and alcohol, and

taking up meditation, the KGB declared The International Society For Krishna

Consciousness “one of the greatest threats to the Soviet nation” in 1980, and

started a “war” on Hinduism in Russia.


1983 – 87: Consequently, hundreds of Russian Hindus were thrown into

prisons, labour camps and psychiatric hospitals and underwent tremendous

suffering and torture at the hands of people who were intent on breaking their

unflinching faith in Lord Krishna and His words in Bhagavad Gita. Many Russian

Hindus died in prison, holding onto their faith, through mistreatment, torture,

malnourishment and starvation


1988: A worldwide campaign of protest was started against the religious

persecution in the USSR, including massive protests and even songs written and

released to highlight the terrible situation. Al Soviet Hare Krishna devotees in

prison were released by Mr. M. Gorbachev. Spiritually starved Russians took up

Hinduism in large numbers



May 20: The Moscow Society for Krishna Consciousness (MOSK) is officially

registered by the Council for Religious Affairs of the USSR.


1989, March The first group of Soviet pilgrims was received by the

Prime-minister of India, R. Gandhi.


1990: Responding to the devotees’ requests, Moscow authorities allot a

dilapidated two-storey building for their temple. After themselves renovating

the building, Moscow devotees open the first Hindu temple in the history of

Russia and USSR.


1991: The Moscow Society for Krishna Consciousness applies for a plot of

land for the construction of an authentic Vedic temple and cultural center in

Moscow. The application is approved and research for a suitable location is



1994: The Bishops’ Council of Russian Orthodox Church made a statement

in which the teachings of Bhagavad Gita were referred to as a “false religion”,

and all other religions were described as a threat to the unity of national

consciousness and cultural identity, and incompatible with Christianity .The

pre-revolutionary hostile model of the Church to other religions with state as a

closest ally was re-surfacing after the communist regime fell down

Moscow government allots a plot of land in Michurin pr. The allotment is

approved by all authorities, but rejected by the Mayor without explanation the




1997: A bill recognised passed by the Russian Parliament (Duma)

recognises the Russian Orthodox Church as the pre-eminent religion of the Soviet

Union, and acknowledges only three other ‘traditional’ Russian faiths: Judaism,

Islam and Buddhism.All other faiths would face strict curbs on their legal

rights, missionary work and educational activities


1998: Vladmir Zhirinovsky, a member of the Russian parliament was quoted

as saying “we should allow only Orthodoxy


1991-1999: The temple also becomes the only place of worship for over

10.000 Indians as well as numerous Hindus from other countries residing in

Moscow. Through the 90s, Hinduism in Russia started to flourish, resulting in 97

registered “Hindu communities”, 22 monasteries, and 250 home groups.

The temple conducts samskaras (purificatory religious rites) for their

families, hold regular traditional festivals like Janmastami, Ramnavami, Holy,

Divali and Dussera, and invite renowned Indian cultural figures like Pandit

Jasraj, Hema Malini, Jagjit Singh and Anup Jalota.

The temple has been on numerous occasions visited by many Indian governmental

officials, including Ambassadors of India, Chief Ministers of Delhi and states,

Cabinet Ministers, the Speaker of Lok Sabha and Parliamentary delegations of

both Houses.



2000, August: President of Russian Society of KC V. Touneev meets with

the Prime-minister of India A.B.Vajpayee and tells him about the activities of

the ISKCON and Russian Hindus.


2001-2002: The Government of Moscow comes up with a reconstruction plan

for area surrounding the temple, thus threatening the temple with demolition


2001: Prime-minister of India A.B.Vajpayee meets with the delegation of

MOSK first in Delhi and then in Moscow during his visit and discusses the plans

of the Temple construction.



February: MOSK requests Moscow government to buy out the building where the

temple is located. The request is rejected.



November: Chief Minister of Delhi Smt. Sheila Dixit brings up the issue of

preserving or relocating the temple with the Mayor of Moscow Mr.Luzhkov on her

official visit to Moscow.



2003, April 16: The Public council by the Mayor of Moscow passes a

unanimous decision to allot 2.5 acres of land at Leningradsky prospect for the

construction of the Vedic cultural center by ISKCON. Plans for demolition of the

old temple are approved by the Moscow Government.


2003, August – September: Upon the request of Moscow government the

District office prepares the draft of the Order to allocate the land to MOSK.



September 16: Speaker of Lok Sabha and the delegation of the Parliament of

India visits the temple and unanimously supports the temple project.




November: Prime-minister of India A.B.Vajpayee during his visit to Moscow meets

with the delegation of MOSK and tells about the achieved agreement.


January 20,

2004: The Mayor of Moscow signs the order for the title transfer for the land.

The land is given to ISKCON with the purpose of developing the temple design and

having it approved by the City Planning Committee.


May, 2004: Design for the new Vedic cultural center is developed by a

leading ISKCON architect and submitted to the planning committee of Moscow for



June 18,

2004: The old temple building is demolished. The temple is relocated to the

new property into a makeshift building. Despite limited conditions, lack of

water supply and sewage systems, temple functions and public access continue




2004: The Inter-religious Council of Russia opposed the construction of a

large Hindu temple in Moscow, as it does not conform with the historical and

cultural tradition of the Russian capital


March 2004: At a large protest march in 2004, Russian Orthodox Churches

told authorities to stop a free food programme because the food apparently

contained ‘cow dung and urine. Continued misinformation resulted in many Hindu

men and women being violently beaten and some even hospitalised


2004-5: Several versions of temple design were submitted to the Planning

Committee and rejected under different pretexts.


2004-5: MOSK connects the land with different facilities, water pipes and



May, 2005: City Planning Committee finally approves the preliminary

design of the future temple. Works on the land like soil testing, etc. are




June - September,

2005: Draft of the renewal of the Mayor’s order is being circulated in the

Mayor’s Office.



August 27: More than 6 thousand people, mostly Indians come to the new premises

to celebrate Janmastami festival. The festival is visited by the Ambassadors of

Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, and Director of the J. Nehru Cultural center.



October 7: The Mayor of Moscow cancels the order for the title transfer.

Official explanation is some technical mistake in the initial Order for the

allotment of the land.




October 31: Archbishop Nikon of Ufa from the Russian Orthodox Church writes to

the Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov asking him not to allow a Hindu temple to be

built in Moscow because according to him, “Lord Krishna is an evil demon, the

personified power of hell, opposing God.” His comments gave rise to worldwide

outrage and condemnation from the Hindu community

2005, October – November – All the attempts to meet with the Mayor of Moscow or

his representatives do not bear any fruit. Land Committee issues the decree to

leave the premises within three months time.



7 December: During his visit to Russia, the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan

Singh, raised the issue with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.


December 2005: Following the comments made by the Archbishop Nikon, the

Hindu Forum of Britain started a campaign that resulted in thousands of email

messages being sent to the Mayor of Moscow, President Putin, and the Russian

Orthodox Church by people from all over the world.



January 14: Mayor of London Ken Livingstone hands letter of protest from the

Hindu Forum of Britain to the Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov asking for harassment

against Russian Hindus to stop



January 18: Defend Russian Hindus Campaign launched at the House of Commons by

British Parliamentarians from all parties with the support of Hindu Forum of

Britain, National Council of Hindu Temples, Hindu Council UK, Hindu Council of

Australia, Hindu American Foundation, Hindu Conference of Canada and Vishwa

Hindu Parishad. Members of Parliament and faith communities adopt a resolution

condemning the harassment of Russian Hindus.



January 23: British Parliament adopts Early Day Motion supported by over 45

MPs from all parties asking for harassment of Russian Hindus to stop, expressing

regret over the cancelling of the land order and offering support to the Defend

Russian Hindus Campaign




January 25: British Minister for Europe, Douglas Alexander MP confirms on the

floor of the House of Commons that Britain will discuss the harassment of

Russian Hindus with Russia and the EU.





Supporting organisations of the campaign... The Hindu

Forum of Britain (HFB) The National Council of Hindu Temples UK (NCHT)

Hindu Council UK (HCUK) BAPS Swaminarayan Hindu Mission Vishwa

Hindu Parishad UK Hindu Council of Australia Hindu American

Foundation The International Society For Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)

Hindu Conference Of Canada




Please Visit/Support/forward









Proud to be a Hindu

Hindu Pride will lead to Hindu Unity!






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