- Title: Siberia's Buddha bar fined and ordered to change name
- Date: 6th December 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF BUDDHIST STATUE AT BAR
- Embargoed: 21st December 2016 10:57
- Keywords: Russia Siberia Krasnoyarsk Buddha bar prosecurots office
- Location: KRASNOYARSK, RUSSIA
- City: KRASNOYARSK, RUSSIA
- Country: Russia
- Reuters ID: LVA0025BQW195
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A court in Russia's Siberian town of Krasnoyarsk some 4,000 km (2,500 miles) from Moscow has fined the owners of a "Buddha bar" for using the name of the founder of Zen Buddhism as well as his images and statues.
The fine of 30,000 roubles (about $500) followed an order by the prosecutor's office to change the bar's name and to remove all elements of the venue's interiors and facade related to religion.
Natalia Myazina who owns the bar along with her husband said they didn't think the place could insult anyone's feelings or attract prosecutors' attention.
"For us the news (about prosecutor's check) came out of the blue. The prosecutor's office received a complaint against us because we use the name 'Buddha' in our cafe's name and also use religious objects - (statues of) Buddhist gods, statues, etc. Our director was invited to the prosecutor's office," Myazina said.
Russia has hundreds of thousands of Buddhists, mostly native inhabitants of the ethnic republics of Kalmykia, Buryatia, and Tuva. Krasnoyarsk has a small Buddhist community. According to Myazina some of its members visited the bar and liked it.
"I have many Buddhist friends and I know for sure that they come to our bar, they bring friends and even spiritual teachers along. And they like the interiors very much and say that it is good that there is such cafe which looks like small Buddhist temple," she said.
Krasnoyarsk prosecutor's office initiated a check in the bar following complaint by St. Petersburg resident who claimed that her feelings as a Buddhist are insulted by the fact that bars where people drink alcohol bears Buddha's name.
The bar owners were fined under Russia's administrative code for 'purported public insult of objects of religious worship' but the prosecutors stopped short of applying an article of the country's criminal code. According to the latter, insulting religious feelings can be punished by up to three years in jail.
Alexander Lyashevich, a member of Krasnoyarsk Buddhist community, told Reuters he found nothing insulting in the design of the bar.
"These paintings and statues were bought at a market somewhere in India or in Thailand for two rupees. They are not used for worshipping, they are objects of artistic and cultural nature. They are souvenirs," he said.
Owners of the bar say though they do not consider themselves guilty, they do plan to change the name of the bar to comply with the prosecutor's order.
There are dozens of bars named 'Buddha' in various Russian cities, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, but so far there were no reports of prosecutor's office actions against them.
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