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Historically, Buddhism was incorporated into Russian lands in the early 17th century. Buddhism is considered as one of Russia's traditional religions, legally a part of Russian historical heritage. Besides the historical monastic traditions of Buryatia, Kalmykia and Tuva, Buddhism is now widespread all over Russia, with many ethnic Russian converts.
The main form of Buddhism in Russia is the Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, informally known as the "yellow hat" tradition, with other Tibetan and non-Tibetan schools as minorities. Although Tibetan Buddhism is most often associated with Tibet, it spread into Mongolia, and via Mongolia into Russia.
Datsan Gunzechoinei in Saint Petersburg, the northernmost Buddhist temple in Russia
The first evidence of the existence of Buddhism in the territory of modern Russia belong to the 8th century AD. E. And are associated with the state of Balhae, which in 698-926 occupied part of today's Primorye and Amur. The Mohe, whose culture was greatly influenced by neighboring China, Korea and Manchuria, professed the Buddhism of one of the Mahayana directions. It primarily spread into the Russian constituent regions geographically or culturally adjacent to Mongolia, or inhabited by Mongolian ethnic groups: Buryatia, Zabaykalsky Krai, Tuva, and Kalmykia, the latter being the only Buddhist region in Europe, located to the north of the Caucasus. By 1887, there were already 29 publishing houses and numerous datsans. After the Russian Revolution, the datsans were closed down. By the 1930s, Buddhists were suffering more than any other religious community in the Soviet Union with lamas being expelled and accused of being "Japanese spies" and "the people's enemies".
After the fall of the Soviet Union, a Buddhist revival began in Kalmykia with the election of President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. It was also revived in Buryatia and Tuva and began to spread to Russians in other regions.
Fyodor Shcherbatskoy, a renowned Russian Indologist who traveled to India and Mongolia during the time of the Russian Empire, is widely considered by many to be responsible for laying the foundations for the study of Buddhism in the Western world.
|Federal subject||Buddhism (2016)|
In 2012 it was the religion of 62% of the total population of Tuva, 38% of Kalmykia and 20% of Buryatia. Buddhism also has believers accounting for 6% in Zabaykalsky Krai, primarily consisting in ethnic Buryats, and of 0.5% to 0.9% in Tomsk Oblast and Yakutia. Buddhist communities may be found in other federal subjects of Russia, between 0.1% and 0.5% in Sakhalin Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai, Amur Oblast, Irkutsk Oblast, Altay, Khakassia, Novosibirsk Oblast, Tomsk Oblast, Tyumen Oblast, Orenburg Oblast, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Murmansk Oblast, Moscow and Moscow Oblast, Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast, and in Kaliningrad Oblast. In cities like Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Samara, often up to 1% of the population identify as Buddhists.