Buddhists in Tuva outraged by police raid in temple

Interfax, September 20, 2010

Kyzyl, Russia -- Dzhambel Lodoi, the resident minister of the Buddhist temple Ustuu-Khuree in the Dzun-Khemchiksky district of Tuva, is outraged by the fact that a group of unidentified armed men broke into the temple during a prayer and raided it on Wednesday.

"Some armed men broke into the main temple Ustu-Khuree unexpectedly and without any warning during a daily prayer at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. They shouted to force everyone to lie down, including the temple's monks. Grabbing several parishioners, the masked men took them into an unknown direction," the website of the Tuva Buddhist community said citing Lodoi.

The temple's clergy could not obtain any explanations from the masked armed men, he said.

"Moreover, we cannot even understand who these people are, as we did not see any insignia indicating their affiliation with security or law enforcement agencies. We presume that these people were from police or some other security organization," Lodoi said.

The monks were scared by the incident, he said.

The Tuva Interior Ministry later made an official statement.

"The Dzun-Khemchiksky district police department received a call from an unidentified man, possibly a parishioner, at 3:30 p.m. on September 15, 2010, who said that people with a criminal record were gathering in the Ustuu-Khuree temple. To verify this report, a group of operatives from the Dzun-Khemchiksky district police department were rushed to the scene," it said.

"In verifying the report, 42 people were taken to police to determine their identities," it said.