for 70rus.org on Oct. 14, 2011
Original text translated by Narayani Radha Dasi
Human Rights Commissioner for Russia`s Tomsk region Nelly Krechetova urged the initiators of the trial of the main book of the Society for Krishna Consciousness, "Bhagavad-Gita As It Is”, urging them to rethink their approach, and announced the participation of the representative of the Ombudsman of the Russian Federation in the court on the Hare Krishna`s side - says the News Agency “Tomsk”.
"The Commissioner for Human Rights in the Tomsk region has no right to interfere in the judicial process to represent the defendant. However, this right is available to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Russian Federation. It is known that V. Lukin decided to entrust his representative to participate in this trial" – says the assistant of the ombudsman in Tomsk region.
In August 2011, in the Leninsky district court of Tomsk there were hearings on the recognition of "Bhagavad - gita as it is" as extremist. The trial was initiated by the prosecutor of the city of Tomsk, and the main argument was the decision of a commission of experts of Tomsk State University, which, according to the Ombudsman, "fell apart right in court." At present, the proceedings are suspended until December 1, 2011. A new judicial complex examination was appointed, this time it is the Kemerovo State University which was entrusted to carry it out.
Tomsk Ombudsman Nelly Krechetova announced her views on this court case.
"Firstly, I think of the very absurdity of the statement of question. This book is considered as sacred by almost a billion people around the world. In Russia "Bhagavad - gita as it is" has been freely available for 20 years. At the same time, it is published in more than 60 languages."- said Nelly Krechetova.
She also felt that the attempt to ban books is a limitation of the constitutional right to freedom of conscience.
"Secondly, the possible ban of the book, and, consequently, the prohibition of religious activities of its followers, will violate citizens' constitutional rights to freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom of speech. The Society for Krishna Consciousness is an officially registered organization. Moreover, there has been no established cases of extremism during the last 20 years when the book was being widely spread on the territory of Russia", - said the Ombudsman.
In addition, she expressed surprise at the fact that the trial of the book was first initiated in Tomsk.
"Thirdly, it is particularly distressing that Tomsk acts as a "pioneer" in such dubious initiative. The "Bhagavad - gita as it is " was labelled to be as "extremist" by Tomsk expert commision, namely the department of philosophy and philology of Tomsk State University. Thus, we can "glorify" (in the meaning of “disgrace” – note of the translator) Tomsk not only within Russia but all over the world. We have to choose: either we are the innovative and tolerant, or, we are left behind in the deep past. Tomsk region already disclosed itself, when the barbaric decision about the demolition of the Hare Krishna houses in the village of Kandinka was carried out, "- said Nelly Krechetova.
In her address, the Ombudsman asked the initiators to change their minds and stop the trial of the book.
To read the original Russian report click here: