Moscow irked over deportation of clergy

Moscow on Monday condemned the deportation of a senior clergy of Russian Orthodox Church from Chennai International Airport on Sunday.

Moscow conveyed to New Delhi its displeasure over the manner in which Father Superior Seraphim was denied food and other basic assistance when he was waiting for hours at the Chennai International Airport before being deported. It also alleged that Indian authorities did not allow Russian diplomats to meet Father Seraphim at the airport 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,” Embassy of Russian Federation in New Delhi stated in a press release issued on Monday.

Hegumen Seraphim visited India on “visitor visa” several times in the past.  The immigration authorities at the Chennai International Airport, however, deported him on Sunday, hours after he arrived from Pakistan.

The Embassy of Russian Federation had invited him to offer spiritual support to officials of the country’s diplomatic missions in India.

He was to take part in a special prayer by officials of Consulate General of Russian Federation in Chennai on Monday. His itinerary also included visits through India to Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Nepal to give spiritual support to officials and family members of diplomatic missions of Russia.

But the “visitor visa” issued to him by the Embassy of India in Moscow allowed him entry to the country only twice. Since he was visiting extensively, his visa turned invalid after his second entry to India.

So before coming from Pakistan to enter India for the third time, he applied for a visa on Internet — a new system introduced by Indian Government to grant visa to tourists.

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