Russian Orthodox priest deported from Chennai – Embassy condemns

Chennai (Matters India): A priest of the Russian Orthodox Church was deported from Chennai airport on January 17 as he had arrived with a tourist visa.

Officials of the Foreign Regional Registration Office of the Bureau of Immigration at the airport sent back Father Seraphym, who works in the department of foreign relationship with Asia in the Russian Orthodox Church.

The priest had an invitation from Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin. “Still, he was not allowed to enter the country,” a Russian Consulate source told reporters. “He had previously visited India on a proper visa, but this time, could not get one because of holidays in the Russian Federation,” he added.

The priest was scheduled to participate in a special prayer in Chennai on January 18 as part of his Asian trip to consulate offices in India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Nepal. He came to give spiritual support to officials and family members of Russian embassies and other official organizations, The Hindu reported.

“He is not here for preaching or evangelical work among Indian citizens,” the source said.

Earlier, the Russian Embassy in Delhi had sent an invitation to the Indian Embassy in Moscow to issue a visa to Fr. Seraphym. But he was given a visa that allowed him entry only twice.

Tthe consulate source said the priest was travelling around Asian countries and that he had to enter India twice. His visa expired and he could not go to Moscow to receive a new visa because of the holidays and the Indian Embassy also did not work.

“So he applied for a visa through Internet. But you can use Internet only for tourist visa on arrival at Chennai. He explained the problems while pointing out that he had already visited India many times. But Indian officials said he could do only sightseeing and cannot involve in other activities.”

The consulate sources alleged that the deportation went against the spirit of an agreement between India and Russa. The tourist visa could be utilized for humanitarian purposes too, he added.

“What disturbed the Russian diplomats most was they were not allowed to visit the priest at the airport to hand over food. Since he was not allowed to be deported through Delhi, the Russian Embassy could not hand over his winter clothes. This is unfortunate that such disrespect was shown to a priest from a friendly country. Such disrespect will not augur well for the long-term business and cultural relationship between the two countries,” a consulate official said.

New Delhi: Report UCAN

The Rusian embassy here on Monday condemned the deportation of a Russian citizen, Father Seraphim, by the immigration authorities of the Chennai International Airport.
“Unacceptable is the fact that Russian diplomats were denied for seven hours contact with the priest at the airport,” the embassy said in a statement. 
“He was also denied basic assistance, including food, despite the requests from the embassy and the consulate general of the Russian Federation in Chennai. Such disrespect, shown to a priest from a friendly country, goes against the spirit of mutual affinity and cooperation characteristic of Russian-Indian relationship,” it added.

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