JRL NEWSWATCH: “Buddhism flourishes in Siberia, opening window on its pre-Soviet past; Orthodox Christianity may be Russia’s most high-profile religion, but it is only one of the country’s four official ‘founding’ faiths. Another of the four, Buddhism, has been experiencing a rebirth in post-Soviet Russia.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

“… For ethnic Buryats, the resurgence of Buddhism is part of a more complex awakening, as local scholars explore the Buryats’ distinctly non-Russian historical and cultural heritage, and endeavor to reconcile it with their identity as modern-day Russians. Similar processes are unfolding in many of [Russia’s] 22 ‘ethnic republics’ …. Today, there are about 1.5 million Buddhists in Russia, concentrated in three ethnically Mongol republics: Buryatia and Tuva in Siberia, and Kalmykia in the North Caucasus. … [I]n Russia, specific religions are viewed as belonging to a particular population: The various faiths are bureaucratized and integrated into a central government-run council, and they are strictly enjoined not to poach upon each other’s flocks. * * * The Russians conquered Siberia by subduing the local peoples through violence …. [U]nlike [in] the U.S., where indigenous peoples were displaced and marginalized … Russian settlers tended to intermarry with native peoples and to find terms of coexistence ….  * * * … Buddhists are strictly enjoined not to get involved in politics ….”

Click here for: “Buddhism flourishes in Siberia, opening window on its pre-Soviet past; Orthodox Christianity may be Russia’s most high-profile religion, but it is only one of the country’s four official ‘founding’ faiths. Another of the four, Buddhism, has been experiencing a rebirth in post-Soviet Russia.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir