Updated on December 20, 2017
This is the second scandal with involvement of FECRIS vise-president Alexander Dvorkin that effects Russian-Indian relations. The story begun more than year ago and involved the Center for Promotion of Conservation and Development of Indian Culture «Shri Prakash Dham» founded by Hindu Shri Prakash Ji in Moscow area and officially registered by the Ministry of Justice of Russia in 2002. Shri Prakash Ji lives in Russia more than 27 years.
The Russian federal news agency «Rosbalt» wrote that Hindu has accused an Orthodox theologian of discrimination on religious grounds. Referring to Prasun Prakash (son of Shri Prakash Ji) the news agency wrote:
«...he and his family were subjected of attacks by the President of "Russian Association of centers for study religions and sects" and the "Center for religious studies in the name of the Holy Martyr Irenaeus" headed by Alexander Dvorkin, as well as his "accomplices". Russian Indian claims that Dvorkin systematically "defiles Hinduism as a world religion and hurts the feelings of hundreds of millions of believers around the world" on its Internet-resource forum.iriney.ru and in social media».
«In this regard, Prasun Prakash calls his friends, acquaintances and public in general, including people who could somehow influence the situation, "to pay attention to the activities carried out by Alexander Dvorkin and his associates which is illegal and undermines friendly relations between Russia and India"».
After attack in December 2016 on house which is home of Prasun Prakash and his family, he initiated online petition:
«I humbly urge the heads of both states, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of both countries, Mr. Sergey Lavrov and Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, and the representatives of the Embassy of India in Russia, to turn their attention towards this urgent issue, and enable the Hindus in Russia to lead a peaceful life with assurance of safety against any kind of persecution from radical elements like Mr. Alexander Dvorkin and his accomplices.»
It should also be noted that Shri Prakash Ji, acting within the legal framework, is seeking protection from the religious extremists in court. The last hearing took place on 19 January 2017, but it has been rescheduled on February 13, Prasun Prakash said on his Facebook page:
«The hearing supposed to be the final and the whole community waited for our victory this day. But the public is also aware of how the radical elements in person of Alexander Dvorkin love to use petty tools by which they manage to delay the process.
This is done to gain time and utilize it to continue spreading slander through paid publications and TV shows. Also a second goal is pursued — attracting false witnesses who do not even know against whom and what they testify.
Thus, the mud is used as advertising to attract witnesses-actors or in the case of our hearing — the actor who plays the role of the new administrator the RACSRS'sRACSRS — Russian Association of Centers for Study Religions and Sects, established by Alexander Dvorkin in 2006. web-site [the web-site of the Russian Association of Centers for Study Religions and Sects – our note]. In this regard, the hearing was postponed on February 13. Considering the fact that before the hearing Alexander Dvorkin and his attorney had long time negotiation with the new administrator, I have no doubts that this is another shameless attempt to win time for new attacks on my religion, my Father and family, as well as on our cultural center and millions believers of Hinduism around the world.»
Details of the mechanism of protraction of the judicial process explains correspondent of the «Moscovskaya Pravda» newspaper who presented at the hearing:
«It became clear that Anna Nikolaeva [secretary of Dvorkin – our note] has no more to do with the web-site, because she resigned from her post, and from December 9, 2016 the administrator is a different person.»
«But if get former administrator out of the trial, there are no legal basis to continue the trial in the Lublin District Court because the new administrator is registered in the Vladimir Region. So the legal proceedings has to start in another region — essentially from scratch. But interest of the plaintiff is to get final decision without delay.»
3rd February 2017 a rally held in the capital of India in front of the Russian embassy. The protesters demanded to stop anti-religious activities of the anti-cultist. Life.ru reports:
«More than 1,000 Hindus gathered for a rally against Russian anti-cultist Alexander Dvorkin. He was accused in denigration of Hinduism and insult of feelings of millions of believers.
The protesters in Delhi burned an effigy of Dvorkin, called him an enemy of India and Russia and asked Vladimir Putin to protect Hindus from persecution in Russia.»
In interview to the news media Sputnik Prasun Prakash said:
«We want diplomatic talks on this issue between Indian and Russian government due the extremism against Hinduism in Russia.»
«The fact is that we don't have problems with Russian government, we have problem with this individual person because this person does his works covertly. In fact, I have written a letter to Russian President Putin to help in this matter. We have got reply from the Administration of President in which it was assured that Russian Interior Ministry will enquire the matter and help.»
Same day (3rd February) a press-conference held in New-Deli with participation of Shri Prakash Ji and Prasun Prakash. This attracted attention of many Indian media:
In his report about trip to India, published on Facebook, Prasun Prakasj says:
It was very nice to hear from the former General and Head of the Indian troops (who currently heads the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because of illness of Sushma Swaraj) Vijay Kumar Singh the following quote: "Son. All the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India and the whole Cabinet of the Prime Minister informed about your petition and we'll do our best to help you." Was pleasantly surprised that even being in hospital, Sushma Swaraj organized a meeting for us with her Head of the Department of Eurasia Mr. Srinivas.
During visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and meetings with other Ministers, I learned many new things, including the fact that behind Dvorkin there are same extremists and dishonorable people, like himself, who hide behind the Orthodox Church. In office of the Prime Minister I was told that there are actions in our support and that in case of any misconduct towards my Father and my family, I can call personally to the Chief Secretary of Narendra Modi and Deputy General Singha. The Ministry of Justice of India has also supported us and promised to stay in a direct connection. I would like to express my gratitude for all these importaing steps taken by the officials.
In Russia, on 2 March 2017 MP of State Duma Valery Rashkin has filed a parliamentary inquiry to FSB, Moscow Prosecutor's Office, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foraign Affairs demanding to examine activity of Alexander Dvorkin on subject of extremism. In his view, the activity of Dvorkin is the incitement of ethnic and religious war and could strain Russia's relations with India.
— The frequency of his actions in relation to different religions, faiths, nationalities, located on the territory of the Russian Federation (in particular, in respect of Indian citizens), in my opinion, is the evidence of his task to inflate an international scandal and involve Russia in a new war, — wrote a member of the Communist party Valery Rashkin in his inquiry.
November 2, 2017 in the ashramAshram is a spiritual monastery in Indian religions (located in Moscow region) and residential apartment (located in Moscow) of the spiritual leader of one of the schools of Hindu Shri Prakash Ji was conducted the search by police. Computer and documents of the Center «Sri Prakash Dham» were confiscated.
«After the search, they took me to their [police] department for explanations. Police officers kept repeating that they understand that we are good people, but they have to execute orders from above. I, in turn, explained that the reason for all this is Alexander Dvorkin and his extremist organization, which is very negative about Hinduism.
The most shocking thing happened later in the police department. A man entered the room and started threatening me and said that Russia is an Orthodox country and that a Hindu sect does not belong here. I asked an employee to whom I was talking initially who this man is, but he said that it is his boss and refused to tell me his name and surname.
I am fully confident that all of this is done by Dvorkin's people and all this is happening on his orders.» — wrote Shri Prakash Ji.
In this regard, Shri Prakash Ji published video with a public appeal to President Putin: https://www.facebook.com/shriprakashji/videos/2001060326807934/ (in Russian, 16 mins).
On the 4th November Life reported, that the search was conducted on the basis of a complaint by certain Orthodox activists.
On 6 November 2017 official Facebook page of Shri Prakash Dham published audio record, an audition, on which it is audible as an unidentified officer of the Ministry of Internal Affairs states that «Russia is an Orthodox country, and there is nothing to do about overseas evil here.»
Also in the explanatory text it is reported: «Then it is heard that the son of Shri Prakash Ji asks this man not to talk with his Father this way. The recording is interrupted, as this «officer» pushes the son of Shri Prakash Ji from the cabinet.
«All the records have been sent to the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. The Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India sent these records to the Russian Foreign Ministry.» — said in the publication.
On 13 November 2017 Pravda.ru reported, that Shri Prakash Ji applied to the Prosecutor General's Office with a request to conduct an investigation into the activities of the head of RACSRSRACSRS — Russian Association of Centers for Study Religions and Sects, established by Alexander Dvorkin in 2006.
On December 12, the State Duma Committee for Nationalities held a roundtable based on appeal of the head of the Center for the Promotion and Development of Indian Culture Kumar Prakash who asked help to defend against attacks of anti-cultist Alexander Dvorkin.
«Another thing is that there are some groups that are engaged in educating anxiety in our fellow citizens on a professional basis. Wherever there is a public order, there are those who perform it.» — said religious scholar Pavel Kostylev at the roundtable.
MP Valery Rashkin drew attention to the fact that «it is very easy to kindle an inter-confessional and interethnic war, but it is very difficult to extinguish this fire.»
«The internet-forum, which Mr. Dvorkin manages, in my opinion, harms the establishment of intercultural and friendly relations with India. I think it's already come to hard. If people started to go to rallies on the streets - it's already hot. It is high time to take measures from the point of view of the state and draw the attention of law enforcement agencies.» — Rashkin said.
More on the roundtable and its participants you can find here.
Original version of this article posted on February 1, 2017