Defend Russian Hindus!

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.

Further, he issued an order of eviction to remove the devotees from the land, with no alternative offered.

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: http://www.kremlin.ru/eng/articles/send_letter_Eng1a.shtml

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 victory!

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 consciousness.

A timeline of discimination against Hindu minorities in Russia

1970:
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

1988,
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 begun.

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 reasons.

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.

2002,
February: MOSK requests Moscow government to buy out the building where the temple is located. The request is rejected.

2002,
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.

2003,
September 16: Speaker of Lok Sabha and the delegation of the Parliament of India visits the temple and unanimously supports the temple project.

2003,
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 approval.

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 unabated.

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 sewage.

May, 2005: City Planning Committee finally approves the preliminary design of the future temple. Works on the land like soil testing, etc. are started.

June – September,
2005: Draft of the renewal of the Mayor�’s order is being circulated in the Mayor�’s Office.

2005,
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.

2005,
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.

2005,
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.

2005,
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.

2006,
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

2006,
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.

2006,
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

2006,
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.

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