ISKCON relief workers killed in missile strike in Ukraine


Two members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), who had been leading an effort to feed thousands of free meals per week to refugees and victims of the war in the Donbass (eastern) region of Ukraine were killed in a missile strike on July 16.

The incident took place when the pair, Kirill Gubarev (Krishna Tattva Dasa), [Above left]and Maksim Verovsky (Madan Gopal Dasa), [Above Right]both 40 years of age, returned from distributing the day’s quantity of sanctified vegetarian food. A missile struck their Hare Krishna Food for Life kitchen, in the town of Alchvesk, destroying the building and burying them under the rubble.

Both men have ordained priests in the local ISKCON temple. Their primary service to the faith, and the community, was food distribution. Another Krishna devotee, Arjuna Dasa, was grievously injured and taken to a hospital. He is expected to recover.

The Donbass Food for Life program has provided 1000 hot meals weekly to civilians in the war-affected areas in Donbass since 2014. The program brings food to orphanages, rehabilitation centers, as well as homes of the elderly. The effort increased in the last few months despite the risks of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine military conflict. Last week a reported 14,000 meals were distributed.

“These two men were committed to sharing not just food but a culture of mercy,” said Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON spokesperson. “The missiles not only took the life of the mission’s leaders, but also destroyed the kitchen building. We pray for them, and that somehow the good work they were doing will continue.”

ISKCON members were some of the first on the scene when the Ukrainian-Russian conflict spread to the west. Krishna devotees in Hungary and Poland were feeding thousands of refugees each day at train stations on those countries’ borders who were fleeing from Ukraine. Since then, ISKCON devotees have been feeding people on both sides of the conflict in Ukraine, both in the east and the west.

“As a Vaishnava Hindu tradition focused on uplifting human society out of suffering, ISKCON members are greatly distressed to see this conflict continue to take the lives of civilians and those providing essential services,” said Dasa. “We join hands with other religious and relief organizations in prayers for a speedy return to peace and healing in the region.”

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, founded in 1966 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has over 600 urban temples and rural eco-communities worldwide. ISKCON promotes a spiritual, sustainable lifestyle based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, and other scriptures.

ISKCON members maintain the world’s largest network of free vegetarian food distribution. In India alone, ISKCON feeds 1.2 million school children a day. Globally, programs operate in cities worldwide at schools and other distribution centers under a variety of programs including Annamrita, Food for Life, Hare Krishna Food Relief, and Hunger-Free-Zone.  In the 1970s, ISKCON’s founder, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, instructed his followers that no one should go hungry within a ten mile radius of any Hare Krishna temple. Since then, Krishna members have strived to fulfill that vision.