Yoga is back in Russian prisons, after officials determined it would not turn inmates gay and result in riots, as suggested by a religious “scholar.”
Yoga classes were first introduced last year, in a pre-trial detention center for women and the Butyrka jail, both in Moscow, The Moscow Times reports.
Theologian Alexander Dvorkin raised concerns that the practice could lead to uncontrolled sexual arousal, homosexuality, and riots, Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reported. Senator Elena Mizulina (pictured above) then asked the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate.
“No one will be drawn to homosexuality” by yoga and the Chinese breathing technique Qigong, Valery Maximenko, deputy head of the Federal Prison Service (FSIN), told the Govorit Moskva radio station.
“Even if it does, we’re in a democracy and everyone has the right to choose their own path,” he added, saying homosexuality is not a criminal offense in the country. The statement is notable coming from an official in Russia, where an anti-gay propaganda law has been used to go after the LGBTQ community over the years.
Maximenko also noted that introducing yoga into the prisons has had a positive outcome, leading to fewer doctor’s visits.
Now both Dvorkin and Mizulina are claiming they have been taken out of context, with Mizulina attempting to wrap the entire story up as nothing more than fake news. She says she did not advocate for the shutting down of yoga, but simply asked for the theologian’s concerns to be taken seriously.
She will ask regulators to block the story under Russia’s new “fake news” law, according to the state run news agency TASS.