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Dalai Lama’s envoy to Russia branded “foreign agent” for condemning war in Ukraine

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Telo Tulku Rinpoche, former head of Buddhists of Republic of Kalmykia and the Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Russia (Photo/Reddit)

By Tenzin Dharpo

 The envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Russia, Telo Tulku Rinpoche has been included in Kremlin’s infamous list of “foreign agent” on January 27 for his condemnation of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The foremost Buddhist figure of Republic of Kalmykia or the ‘Shajin Lama’ said Monday that he has resigned as the religious head of the Buddhists in Kalmykia but will continue as the envoy of the H.H. the Dalai Lama to Russia.

“I learned that on January 27, 2023, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation entered my name in the register of “Foreign Agents”. Over the past two days, many people have expressed concern and sympathy regarding my name being listed on the “Foreign Agent” register. I am sincerely grateful to those for their kind messages and appreciating my work.

“To the people of Kalmykia and all the followers of Buddhism in these difficult times, I wish you to maintain courage, fortitude and commitment to the ideals of compassion, love and non-violence, on which the teaching of the Buddha we profess,” Telo Tulku Rinpoche wrote on his social media handles.

Speaking to Phayul on Tuesday in Dharamshala, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile, he said, “I will remain as the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama unless the Kashag decides something else. When asked if the Office of Tibet in Moscow will be affected by the incident, he said, “As of right now, I don’t see any reason for the Office of Tibet to be affected, but I cannot guarantee that it won’t be affected. Since, we haven’t done anything against the Russian laws, rules and regulations, so I don’t see any reason why the office would be closed.”

The US citizen also said that he considers being labelled a foreign agent as a “privilege” and to be included among people of conscience including many celebrities, writers and poet in Russia. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights verified a total of 7,110 civilian deaths during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as of January 2023. Of them, 438 were children.