ISKCON devotees in Moscow have permission to build a temple on the outskirts of the city. The traditional Indian temple will be constructed on land recently allocated by the Moscow mayor. The process for obtaining building permits in Moscow typically takes up to a year to complete. Approval for the temple came in just ten weeks.
“After so much struggle, the door is finally fully open for us to proceed. And, in fact, it is essential that we proceed as quickly as possible before some new problem arises,” reveals Bhakti Vijnana Goswami, president of ISKCON Russia.
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The Moscow devotees still need to complete the architectural plans, engineering and apply for final approval from the City government. This process usually takes a further twelve to eighteen months but they hope to get it completed within eight months and begin construction.
In 2004 Moscow's Hare Krishna temple was demolished under a city development plan, and ISKCON was offered another piece of land to build a temple. However, the offer was withdrawn following protests from the Russian Orthodox Church against plans to build a temple that would eclipse their Christ the Saviour Cathedral.
Archbishop Nikon is quoted as having described Lord Krishna as 'an evil demon, the personified power of hell, opposing God'. The Russian Orthodox opposition invoked a backlash of protest that attracted the support of both Hindu and non-Hindu dignitaries worldwide including the mayor of London and fifty seven British MPs.
After a visit and request from Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, the Moscow mayor relented and allocated about five acres of land for the construction of the temple about ten kilometres from Moscow.