Buddhists of Russia discuss arrangements for the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit

Last week, the first online conference of Buddhists took place in Russia. The conference agenda includes two main issues: the visit of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to Russia and the amendment of the federal law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations." 

The conference was attended by 28 organizations representing four schools of Tibetan Buddhism: Sakya, Nyingma, Kagyu and Gelug from regions traditionally professing Buddhism: Kalmykia, Buryatia, Tuva, as well as from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Siberia and the Far East.


The conference was initiated by the Buddhist Association of Kalmykia. A short report on the first issue was made by the senior administrator of the Central Khurul of Kalmykia "The Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni", a member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation Yonten-Gelong (in the world Sergey Kirishov). He had previously touched upon this acute problem of Russian Buddhism at a meeting of the Commission on the Harmonization of Interethnic and Interreligious relations of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation.

According to Yonten-Gelong, the last time the Dalai Lama was in Russia was 16 years ago, when he visited Kalmykia on a pastoral visit. (In two other traditional Buddhist regions, Buryatia and Tuva, the spiritual leader has not been since 1992, that is, for 28 years).
At that time, first President of Kalmykia, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, contributed to the pastoral visit. During his visit to the PRC in 2003, Vladimir Putin specially included Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in the Russian delegation to give him the opportunity to conduct personal negotiations with the Chinese leadership about the Dalai Lama's visit to Elista. In October 2004, Ilyumzhinov appealed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a request to allow the Dalai Lama travel to Russia. After some thought, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued an entry visa to the Buddhists’ leader.
Over the past 16 years, people have developed a stable idea that it is not possible to organize the visit of the Dalai Lama to Russia, but this is not true. “The solution to this issue is to consolidate our efforts. If, having united, the Buddhists of Russia  would convey their viewpoint to the government of the Russian Federation, President and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then we will be able to arrange a visit of the spiritual leader of Russian Buddhists to our country,” Yonten-Gelong said.
“Refusing to Russian Buddhists in their desire to invite His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Russia, the Foreign Ministry refers to the treaty on good-neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation between the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China adopted back in 2001. However, the last visit of the spiritual leader to Kalmykia took place in November-December 2004, that is, after the conclusion of this treaty and clearly did not worsen relations between the two countries at all, ”he said.
Director of the Buddhist Centre "Ganden Tendar Ling" (Moscow) Andrei Lomonosov drew the attention of the conference participants to the statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which he spoke about the absence of a ban on the Dalai Lama's entry into Russia. The statement was made at a plenary session of the All-Russian People’s Front forum in Sochi in May 2019.