News of the peaceful death of former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke on May 16that the age of 89, has evoked praise of the charismatic leader. Dominating Australian politics in the 1980s, he is credited with introducing universal healthcare, modernising the economy. A lesser known achievement is his 1987 intervention to help free the Hare Krishna devotees from state persecution in the USSR.
A new book from the Russian branch of the BBT tells the amazing history of ISKCON in the USSR during the Soviet era, detailing the struggles and successes of some of our movement’s most dedicated and often unsung heroes. “The Krishna Consciousness Movement in the USSR: A Historical Outline From 1971-89” is out on May 15th in the Russian language. Not yet available in English, it is the first comprehensive account of these 18 years of history.
Anatoli Fedorovich Pinyayev (Ananta-santi dasa) was the first Soviet Hare Krsna devotee. Because of his active preaching throughout the USSR, he was subjected to severe persecution for five and a half years at Soviet psychiatric hospitals. The following excerpts are from an interview with him conducted in February 1988.
In the 1980's the children of ISKCON Australia played a major role in setting the imprisoned Soviet ISKCON devotees free. A 12 year old boy Prahlada wrote a letter to president Gorbatchev, and along with other children he went on a campaign and regularly performed in the media inspiring people to join their petition.
The children's famous song was inspired by the letter Prahlada and Raman wrote to Mr. Gorbachev. The lyrics were then penned by the late Yasomatinandana dasa and Harii Bandhu wrote the music.
The other video is a live television program recorded on March 16th 1988, on Sri Prahlada's 14th birthday.
On February, 12th and 13th ISKCON Russia celebrated its 40th anniversary. It was in the summer of 1971, when ISKCON founder A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) visited Moscow, and started to teach and spread the science of Krishna-consciousness in the former Soviet Union.