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Buddhist leader says impossible to justify actions of athlete who desecrated Buddha statue

April 05, 14:02 UTC+3 ULAN UDE
A criminal case was opened against Dagestani athlete Said Osmanov on charges of violating the right to freedom of religion
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Buddha statue in Elista

Buddha statue in Elista

© Dmitriy Rogulin/ITAR-TASS, archive

ULAN UDE, April 5. /TASS/. Head of Russia’s traditional Sangha XXIV Pandito Khambo Lamba Damba Ayusgev said on Tuesday it is impossible to justify the actions of Dagestani athlete Said Osmanov who desecrated a statue of Buddha in Elista.

"Naturally, it is an insult of the feelings of Buddhists," he said in an interview with the Buryatia television channel. "I think, and this is my firm belief, that each religion must defend itself. This is a religion is for. In this respect, one thing should be in common: the believers and their religious leaders must stand up to say that religious feelings are the most vulnerable and sensible things. In this respect, there can be no justification."

According to earlier reports, the 22-year-old athlete arrived in Elista to take part in the all-Russia Greco-Roman wrestling tournament. Strolling about the city overnight to April 2, Osmanov called at a Buddhist temple and videoed himself simulating body-checking in front of the statue of Buddha. The video was later posted on the internet.

Following the incident, the coach of the Dagestani team was dismissed. Dagestan’s Minister of Sports Magomed Magomedov received a reprimand from the region’s head, Ramazan Abdulatipov. Head of Kalmykia Alexey Orlov and Dagestan’s Prime Minister Abdusalam Gamidov issued a joint statement condemning the athlete’s actions. On Monday, the head of Dagestan apologized for his fellow countryman and said that what he did "is condemned by the Dagestani residents."

A criminal case was opened against Osmanov on charges of violating the right to freedom of religion. These charges carry a punishment of up to three years in prison. On April 4, the Elista city court arrested Osmanov for a term of two months.

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