Infamous Russian Anti-Cultist Alexandr Dworkin Again Charged With Defamation
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New Delhi – India
Spiritual Guru – Shri Prakash Ji Wins Defamation Lawsuit in Russia
New Delhi, Delhi, India – Business Wire India
Shri Prakash Ji – Spiritual Guru and leader of Hinduism in Russia (http://bit.ly/ShriPrakashJi) has won the defamation lawsuit against a radical Christian organization named RATSIRS headed by the infamous Alexander Dworkin. Dworkin is the same person whose aggressive rhetoric lead to the burning of Bhagavad-Gita in one of the Russian cities eight years ago.
The verdict of the Odintsovo court came into force on the 24th of January 2019 stating that the Information being given out on Dworkin’s Internet forum iriney.ru be considered as false and harmful for Shri Prakash Ji’s reputation as a prominent spiritual leader in Russia. The case was filed by Shri Prakash Ji’s lawyer Mr. Kaloy Akhilgov who had helped him in successfully repelling the unauthorized raids by government officials in the year 2017. This, in itself, is a unique and historic verdict as by doing this, the court officially went in favor of the Hindu minority that resides in Russia and numbers only about 140,000.
The attacks on Shri Prakash Ji, his family and his disciples started happening in the year 2016 and the whole story was highlighted in the famous American magazine Newsweek (http://bit.ly/NewsWeekStory). A petition was generated the same year on change.org that also caught the attention of the Indian media (http://bit.ly/TOIStory) after a group of radical Christian goons disguised as journalists tried to forcefully enter his Ashram located in Moscow. Again in November 2017, a group of armed policemen conducted an unauthorized raid in Shri Prakash Ji’s family home and Ashram during which his son Prasun Prakash was physically attacked. Shri Prakash Ji and his son were called foreign scum and were threatened to leave Russia.
The reason behind all of this were the hate speeches given out by Dworkin in the Russian media against Shri Prakash Ji. Even now after winning the case Shri Prakash Ji and his family are staying alert as Dworkin is expected to attack them indirectly by concentrating his malicious efforts on Prakash Ji’s cultural centre Shri Prakash Dham.
Shri Prakash Dham is an Indian Cultural centre in Russia that has worked on the front of conserving friendly ties between the two countries for more than 20 years. Shri Prakash Ji is the official president of Shri Prakash Dham and Dworkin’s next strategy could be, using his position in Russia’s Ministry of Justice’s committee on religion to falsify his hate claims even more and give them an unauthorized governmental backing.
(Disclaimer: The above press release comes to you under an arrangement with Business Wire India. PTI takes no editorial responsibility for the same).
Media contact details:
Shri Prakash Dham, Centre for conservation of Indian culture in Russia, +7 (499) 391 95 05, firstname.lastname@example.org
Popular Hindu religious leaderÂ Shri Prakash JiÂ saidÂ his life in Russia drastically worsened during the past three years due toÂ systematic harassment and threats from followers of an Orthodox Christian anti-cult activist.Shri, who goes by the name Guru Ji,Â had been living peacefully in Russia since 1990, first as a medical student and then as a spiritual leader.Â He started a family in RussiaÂ and his three children, who are between the ages of 18 andÂ 23, were all born in Moscow.But three years ago, he caught the attention of anti-cult activist Alexander Dvorkin, a manÂ human rights groups saidÂ harasses members of any religion that competes with Russiaâ€™s Orthodox Church. Ever since, Guru Ji saidÂ he and his family have been the targets of a smear campaign that culminated in November, when police raidedÂ hisÂ spiritual center and his home.
Guru Ji’s lawyer, Kaloy Akhilgov, said Dvorkin’s followers have filed false statements with the police saying that Guru Ji is guilty of economic crimes. So far, no charges have been pressed.
“They searched the center, and they searched my home, where my family was. They are sending fake journalists to my office. People come to me, they pretend to be a follower, and then they film me. Every week they are doing something,” Guru Ji told Newsweek.
“I’m starting to wonder how I can live here with my family. There are so many nationalist elements here, and my daughter is going to school, every day we are worried. They call and threaten us, they say I should leave Russia,” he continued.
Guru Ji said that every day hundreds of people visit his spiritual center, which is located approximately 17 miles outside of Moscow. Yoga and meditation have experienced a cultural revival in Russia, just as they have in many parts of the West.
In Russia, Orthodox Christianity has fused with Russian nationalism under the watchful eye of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In this context, religious activists like Dvorkin have risen to positions of prominence. In 2009, the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom’s annual report noted that Dvorkin had been named the chairman of a new government-linked body called the Expert Religious Studies Council, which was given wide powers to investigate religious organizations in Russia.
“The Expert Religious Studies Council’s new chairman, Alexander Dvorkin, is Russia’s most prominent anti-cult activist, and he lacks academic credentials as a religion specialist,” the report notes. “Observers are concerned that under Dvorkin’s leadership, the council may call for the closure of registered as well as unregistered minority religious communities.”
The council maintains close ties to the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is also known for its anti-sect activities. Many in Russia say that Dvorkin and his associates have a long track record of targeting religious minorities and have a well-established network of followers and collaborators in governmental and nongovernmental structures throughout Russia.
“Religious freedom in Russia is in a dire state, and we’re concerned about the status of all religious minorities there,” Daniel Mark, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Freedom, told Newsweek.
“Alexander Dvorkin is one of a large network of Russian Orthodox activists who have grown considerably in influence over the last 10 years due to the Russian government’s increasing patronage of the Russian Orthodox Church and the government’s Soviet-style concerns about the subversive potential of independent religious groups. These concerns are no justification for violations of religious freedom,” Mark continued.
Dvorkin insists that Scientologists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Guru Ji are spreading false rumors about him. Dvorkin told Newsweek that he is now the deputy head of the council, whose only role is to advise the Ministry of Justice about which groups should be permitted to register as a religious organization. He denies persecuting religious minorities.
Over the past decade, however, the council has spearheaded campaigns against Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists in Russia. Last year, Russia opted to ban Jehovah’s Witnessesaltogether, a decision Dvorkin defended. Jehovah’s Witnesses are now labeled an extremist group in Russia and are prohibited from gathering or preaching in the country.
In 2017, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Minorities recommended for the first time that Russia be included on the list of countries of particular concern. The State Department later declined to include Russia on the list.
“In mainland Russia in 2016, new laws effectively criminalized all private religious speech not sanctioned by the state, the Jehovah’s Witnesses stand on the verge of a nationwide ban, and innocent Muslims were tried on fabricated charges of terrorism and extremism,” the 2017 report stated.
Hare Krishnas in Russia have also been accused of being a “totalitarian sect.” Plans in 2003 to build a Hindu temple for Hari Krishnas and members of the Vedic religions were derailed by members of the Orthodox Christian Church, who called Hinduism one of the most anti-Christian cults. According to the Indian embassy in Russia, there are around 14,000 Indian citizens living in Russia and around 1,500 Afghan nationals of Indian origin.
Now, Dvorkin’s supporters have set their sights on Guru Ji. Dvorkin’s blog, which is popular among conservative Orthodox Christians in Russia, claims that Guru Ji is not a real spiritual leader and that he tricks followers in order to take advantage of them and steal their money. The forum also contains testimony from people who claim that they once followed Guru Ji and experienced abuse. One user claimed Guru Ji is turning women against their husbands because his female followers are now only interested in men who are enlightened.
Guru Ji and members of his family said that the harassment has become intolerable as a result of the campaign. Experts contend that Dvorkin is not overtly dangerous, but that he and his followers have a habit of using law enforcement to fight their battles.
“Dvorkin is a very emotional person. In previous years, he could even turn violent in his anti-cultist fight. But he is not a fighter, in fact he was not really brutal,” Alexander Verkhovsky, director of Russian think tank the SOVA Center, told Newsweek.
“Physical attacks by some of [his followers] is still possible but is very rare. They prefer writing books and articles, collaborating with police, Church leadership and other authorities,” Verkhovsky continued. “So usually these people threaten not with violence but with urging [the] law enforcement system against their opponents.”
Read the entire article and watch videos here: Newsweek – Dvorkin