Russia is a country with population of slightly over 144 million. With the total number of Indians inhabiting this snowy wonderland amounting to 10,000 it’s clearly visible that Russia is not the best bet for Indians who want to settle abroad. In comparison to these tiny numbers the staggering 3.2 million Indians that reside in the United States is an unimaginable quantity. The reason for such a dull picture in Russia is the fact that the country is still on the path of opening up to the world and embracing people from the far off lands wholeheartedly.
Things become even more interesting when we talk about religion. It is an irony that the number of Hindus in Russia is 14 times more than the number of Indian citizens in Russia. It is indeed some really impressive statistics. We see this picture because 92 percent of these Hindus are citizens of Russia. Almost 140,000 Russians call themselves Hindus. It would be a grave mistake if the governments of both Russia, as well as India ignore these people. Incidents of the year 2018 that were highlighted in the international journals and happened around the figure of the leader of hinduism in Russia, Prakash, exist as the most abominable proof of the above stated lines.
The article above speaks of a very aggressive group of radical christians with the notorious Alexander Dvorkin at their head. Dvorkin is a Russian anti-cult activist who labels everything except Orthodox Christianity as sects and cults. He is infamous for slandering and attacking everything that is Hindu and even in the ball park of Hinduism. In the year 2011 he was the one to initiate the ban on the holy book of Bhagavad Gita. More recently in the beginning of the year 2017 Dvorkin’s effigy was burnt in front of the Russian Embassy in Delhi for attacking the family of Prakash. The matter was also discussed in the walls of the UN and the OSCE.
The more recent case of a Russian busenessman by the name Denis Stepanov illustrates an althogether different and very unsettling aspect of Dvorkin and his organisation. Denis was born in Russia, Moscow and now at the age of 35 years old is a young, energetic and promising enterpreneur. He owns a medical firm that works on the lines of improving trade relations between India and Russia. Success came to him at a very young age until it all changed 4 years ago. Denis officially became a Hindu and things went from excellent to horrible in no time. For Denis it all began with a clear interest towards Indian culture and Hinduism.
In the year 2016 he came in close contact with the Hindu scriptures that are available in Russian. After that in the end of the same year he decided to take on the life and path of a devoted Hindu. “It was the most beautiful moment of my life. At the same time I knew that this might effect my work and my business, knowing the harsh reality of minority religions in Russia”, mentions Denis. Business boomed for Denis in the beginning of the next year. The bad news for him though was going to come very soon. Dvorkin and his people had him on his radar for 4 months before showing their fangs and claws dipped in religious hatred and communal violence. “They started stalking me beginning from the February of the year 2017. It continued for about 3-4 months before one day they came to me while I was entering my house and threatened me to change my religion”, says Denis.
It did not stop there. The nightmare for Denis had just begun. In the month of November Denis had visitors wearing masks and carrying guns. These were not regular Russian goons or hooligans and they presented themselves as police officials. In addition to that they told Denis about their association with an organisation named RATSIRS and if he does not abdicate his rights of practicing Hinduism they will tell the government structures dealing with businesses to snatch away from him his wealth and the cumulative amount of his material investments. Goons dressed in police uniform created havoc in his office and even physically assaulted Denis. They ordered him to transfer money to RATSIRS’s accounts. Denis refused and they reiterated further threats to his life and health.
It is important to mention the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church controls and influences the people like Dvorkin directly and even labels them as heroes of the church for doing all the dirty work. Dvorkin has associates in the police departments, ministries and the federal anti monopoly bureau.
“I did my research and it was very much clear to me in a few days what was happening around me”, Denis claims. Dvorkin is the official president of RATSIRS, the organisation that was behind all the harassment mentioned above. Denis knew very well that the first thing he had to do was filing a complaint in the police. The mental torture of Denis continued through the use of gadgets and with the employment of disgusting tricks which cannot be mentioned here due to the extent of vile content which was being sent to Denis via SMS and calls. Dvorkin was now behind enterpreneurs whose only fault was being Hindu and aid they offered to build healthy trade between India and Russia.
Denis is confident that Dvorkin has started this commercial crusade against his group of companies because he does not want Hindus to be financially strong in a country where the majority population observes Orthodox Christianity. The aim of harassing young enterpreneurs like Denis is to extort the cash flow towards the coffers of Russian Orthodox Church. If the Christians see that Hindus can be successful it will send a negative message in terms of the church’s policy. This was made very clear to Denis in the summer of the year 2019.
“Dvorkin paid a bribe recently to the workers of the federal antimonopoly bureaue of Russia to destroy my livelihood completely”, conveys Denis. The situation for Denis is running out of hands but he is still fighting for his rights. The federal anti-monopoly bureau is threatening him to convert to Christianity and if he refuses they will extort money from him. There has been a public outburst with regards to the matter in the social media as another Russian Hindu activist Sergei Kevshin had highlighted the case of Denis in his letters.
Denis has promised to take hard action against Dvorkins organisation. He will write complaint letters and petitions to president Putin of Russia. The court hearing with the bureau is bound to take place on the 21st of January 2020. When Denis adopted Hinduism he also took with it a Hindu name — Hardas. He wants to keep this name. The name that is a symbol for the freedom of choice he is having. The name that is more important to him than anything else giving him never ending hope to continue this struggle