ST. PETERSBURG OFFICER APPEALS CLOSING OF YOGA LECTURE CASE
Dozhd, 6 February 2017
Police officer Arsen Magomedov filed in Smolny district court of St. Petersburg an appeal against the decision that stopped the administrative case of illegal evangelism that was opened against the programmer Dmitry Ugai for a lecture about Yoga. A copy of the appeal was delivered to Dozhd by Denis Shedon, a lawyer for the rights advocacy center Memorial, which has provided Ugai legal support.
In October 2016, Ugai was arrested at the Vedalife festival in the Etazhi loft, where he delivered a lecture on the philosophy of Yoga. A local resident, Nail Nasibullin, complained to the police about the festival, suggesting that missionary activity would be conducted there for expanding the ranks of the religious movement Krishna Consciousness.
The police considered the lecture to be a violation of article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law (illegal missionary activity). However the court ordered the cessation of the administrative proceedings because of lack of evidence of a crime.
Magomedov, who composed the police report against Ugai, points out in the appeal that he arrived at the lecture for checking the statement about a possible violation of law and that he [Ugai] was talking about Yoga "not as if it were physical exercise but from the point of view of love for God, spiritual wholeness, and quest for God as personal." "At the same time, the word 'God' in any of the explanatory dictionaries, including both the explanatory dictionary of Dal and that of Ozhegov, means a supreme being that is inseparably tied to religion," the appeal says.
From the declarer and witnesses and also from public sources it was learned that Ugai is affiliated with the organization Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Magomedov writes.
Thus the police officer concludes that Ugai is in violation of part 4 of article 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Violations of Law for not having the required documents for public dissemination of information about his beliefs among people who are not participants of the respective association for the purpose of drawing them into it.
The amendments to the Code of Administrative Violations of Law, which permit punishment for evangelism outside of places designated by the law "On freedom of conscience," were provided by the "antiterrorism" package of laws introduced by Deputy Irina Yarovaya and Senator Viktor Ozerov. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 February 2017)
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