on Aug. 29, 2009
Vladamir, Russia is famous for its ancient Orthodox churches.
Hare Krishnas of Vladimir city received an ultimatum to vacate their place of worship by September 1st 2009.
A U.S. Congress-backed panel has included Russia on its Watch List of countries where people’s religious freedoms are at risk.
Modern Vladimir (200 kilometers [124 miles] to the east of Moscow) is a part of the famous “Golden Ring” of ancient Russian cities, a significant tourist attraction. For the last 17 years, the ISKCON Vladimir temple was a place of worship for local Russians and visiting Hindus alike, and a place where hungry people could eat free vegetarian food.
Sacipati Dasa (Chairman of ISKCON Vladimir) says: “We asked the Municipal Housing Board to cancel this decision and explain that ISKCON Vladimir and Food for Life Vladimir are important educational and charitable organizations. We hope that this problem can still be solved favorably.”
The Moscow Times reported on 4 May 2009 that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said the main reason it had put Russia on the Watch List of 11 countries was the creation in February of the Justice Ministry’s Expert Religious Studies Council, “which was given extremely wide powers to investigate religious organizations, including their activities and literature, for a broad array of reasons, including extremism.”
The 269-page report, which devotes 15 pages to Russia, also expresses concern that the council’s head, prominent anti-cult activist Alexander Dvorkin, lacks academic credentials as a religion specialist. His deputy Roman Silantyev has written articles intolerant of “so-called radical Islam” and the council includes five pro-Russian Orthodox Church members known for attacking Hindu and Protestant faiths. The report also raises concerns about religious liberty in four other former Soviet republics, including Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, together with countries like China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.