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Official website of the President of Russia

Transcripts   /

Opening remarks at the meeting with lamas of the Buddhist Traditional Sangha in Russia

April 11, 2013, Verkhnyaya Ivolga

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Esteemed Pandito Khambo-lama, friends, thank you very much for the invitation.

Russia is probably the only country in Europe where Buddhism is an official religion. It began with Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, who was the first Russian head of state to recognise Buddhism.

Since then Buddhism has played a very important role in the lives of the peoples of Russia, helping people in the times of trouble and sharing their joys. It has been like that at all times.

It is well known that Buddhists behaved heroically in the years of hardship during World War I and the 1941–1945 Great Patriotic War, despite the fact that they suffered greatly in the 1930s, along with representatives of all other faiths in Russia. Today you have a very noble mission: you always support the people.

I just saw your most important, most revered shrines, which you treat with great care, preserving them for the people. Most importantly, you are promoting a very kind humanistic teaching that is based on people's love for each other and for their country. You carry on the traditions of interethnic and interfaith harmony, which is vitally important, and for that I want to express my gratitude to you once again.

I have enjoyed a very close relationship with Pandito Khambo-lama for many years. I want to thank him for this relationship and for his friendship. I want to stress that the Russian Government, the regional authorities and I are always at your disposal, always ready to give you our support.

Despite the fact that your needs are extremely modest (I know that you always rely on your own resources), I would like to say once again that we are always at your disposal.

Thank you very much for our joint efforts.


April 11, 2013, Verkhnyaya Ivolga