On August 13, 2001, a news conference was held in Moscow on the Falun Gong issue. Russian practitioners and representatives of two human rights organizations in Russia made speeches at the conference, and practitioners also distributed literature about Falun Dafa. One piece of literature illustrated that some Russian medical experts concluded in their study that practising Falun Gong is beneficial to health. In addition, practitioners also played a video that clarified the truth in Russian. This video had two focal points: first, the self-immolators in Tiananmen Square were not Falun Gong practitioners; second, the self-immolation video broadcast by China's official CCTV [China's central television] was deliberately fabricated and staged by the security departments in China.
A representative of Russian Falun Gong practitioners said that when Falun Gong was just beginning to spread in Russia, the Russian practitioners were all practising together with the Chinese practitioners. Later on, many Chinese practitioners in Russia were compelled to practice secretly. Presently, the majority of practitioners in Russia are local Russians.
Practising Falun Gong is popular in St. Petersburg
In Russia, St. Petersburg has the largest group of practitioners. A representative of Falun Gong in St. Petersburg, Soul Tasiank [phonetically spelled] said that St. Petersburg has several thousand practitioners, and that several hundred of these practitioners regularly join the group practices. Shac Cukor phonetically spelled], a contact person in Moscow, said that Moscow has just over 100 practitioners. Shac Cukor added that practitioners in Russia are rather diverse and from different walks of life.
The practitioners and representatives of human rights organizations in Russia explained that Falun Gong practitioners are not interested in politics and do not oppose the Chinese government. But practitioners are opposed to China's brutal persecution of Falun Gong. The Russian government treats the Falun Gong group with the same policies as several thousands of other active organizations: neither supporting nor opposing. Therefore, Falun Gong in Russia is practiced openly and freely and available to the public.
However, practitioners in Russia were once questioned by the Federal Security Department, and they would sometimes encounter pressure from the Russian police. At the news conference, the human rights organizations in Russia and a Falun Gong representative disclosed that the Chinese general consulate in St. Petersburg and the Chinese Embassy in Moscow placed a great deal of pressure on Falun Gong practitioners in Russia. On this issue, Nick Reese [phonetically spelled], a representative of Russian human rights organizations, stated that the activities of Falun Gong in Russia have certainly not violated any Russian laws, and those same laws are there to protect the practitioners in Russia. Therefore, the Russian human rights organizations will continue to pay close attention to the Falun Gong activities in Russia in the future. The rights and benefits of Russian practitioners will be ensured.
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