Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on the 14th Dalai Lama and religious freedom

Back in 2010, the first president of the Republic of Kalmykia and the sixth president of FIDE, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, stated that one of his priority tasks is further organizing the visit to Russia of the spiritual leader of Buddhists, His Holiness Dalai Lama.

According to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, in recent years, the post of president did not allow him to speak in full voice about the urgent need for the pastoral visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Russia.


“There are always provisions when it concerns the Dalai Lama. Provision is that he cannot go to Russia. Provision is that I as an official cannot talk about it. And nobody cares about the fact that the people want his arrival, that the old grandmothers dream to see him and die. Why should we ask someone what god to pray to?” Kommersant newspaper quotes Kirsan Nikolayevich Ilyumzhinov.

Recall that Kirsan Nikolaevich Ilyumzhinov organized a memorable one-day visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Kalmykia in 2004. Thus, the Kalmyk people found themselves in a much more advantageous position in comparison with their brothers in faith in Buryatia and Tuva, which the Dalai Lama last visited 18 (!) years ago.
In 2006, Kirsan Nikolayevich Ilyumzhinov signed a decree conferring on His Holiness the Dalai Lama the highest award of the Republic of Kalmykia - the Order of the White Lotus. According to decree, "the spiritual leader of Buddhists, the Nobel Prize winner is awarded for outstanding services and significant contribution to the cause of the spiritual revival and prosperity of our republic."
We present fragments of an interview posted on the Kommersant website.
- There are Christian icons, the Koran and portraits of the Dalai Lama in your office. What does this mean?
- I believe that we have been created by the absolute, the cosmos, the Most High. Buddha, Christ, Mohammed are the children of one God. We appear and leave. Therefore, I build churches, temples and mosques. Do you know that ten years ago there was not a single Orthodox or Buddhist church in Kalmykia? Today, there are 22 Orthodox churches in Kalmykia and about 40 Buddhist temples. And I think this is an important achievement. My main task is to arrange a visit by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Kalmykia. He is not allowed to visit Russia.
- Authorities don’t want to quarrel with China. It is unlikely that you will be able to resolve this issue.
- Yes, they are afraid of him and that's why he can’t come. However, today, I, as a public figure, can achieve this. Earlier, as soon as I started talking about it, they immediately called me from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Are you joking? You are the head of a republic; you have no right to interfere with foreign policy.”  Soon, I will become a simple social activist; I will not receive a salary from the budget. I will not depend on anyone and, thus, I will be able say whatever I want. Even now, I cannot tell you everything, because I am still an official. However, I can talk about the same problem of the Dalai Lama more frankly. And I will try to hear the voice of the public. It is one thing when Kirsan Nikolaevich Ilyumzhinov speaks as the head of Kalmykia. It is something else when Kirsan Nikolaevich Ilyumzhinov speaks as a representative of the faithful Kalmyks.
- Why do you want the Dalai Lama’s visit so much? It is clear that this means a confrontation with the federal government.
- We have built a central Buddhist temple called “The Golden Abode of Shakyamuni Buddha”. It has not been sanctified for five years now. How so? According to the Constitution of Russia, we have freedom of religion. Why is the Constitution not respected? All believers have the right to meet with their shepherd. The Dalai Lama is our spiritual leader, but he cannot make a pastoral visit.