Kalmykia’s Buddhists Press Moscow To Allow Dalai Lama To Visit Their Republic – OpEd


The Buddhists of Kalmykia, one of the three predominantly Buddhist republics in the Russian Federation (the others are Buryatia and Tuva), have appealed to Moscow to permit the Dalai Lama to visit their republic again. His Holiness was there in 1992 and 2004 and visited Tuva in 1992.

The Buddhists of these republics are not optimistic that Moscow will agree: it hasn’t been willing to give the spiritual leader of the world’s Tibetan Buddhists a visa in the last 14 years, although in July 2012 in answer to a question at the Seliger Forum said he was prepared “to work in this direction” (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/322739/).

But in addition to their pessimism, at least some of them are angry that the Russian government continues to refuse to allow the Dalai Lama to visit. “Other countries without fuss invite [him],” Viktor Sarangov, a Kalmyk official says. “And has Chinese declared war on them or crushed their economies?” China even maintains normal ties with India where the Dalai Lama maintains his residence.

“It seems to me,” he continues, that here some sort of personal interests and not the interests of Russia play a larger role.” But can it really be, Sarangov says, that “someone in the country feels he’s getting economic profit from this prohibition?” The ban doesn’t make any sense at all.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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