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Russia refuses visa to Dalai Lama

Press Trust of India / AFP, France
Sep. 23, 2003 • Tuesday September 23, 2003

Moscow, September 23: Russia has refused to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama because a visit by Tibets spiritual leader would violate agreements between Moscow and Beijing, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

It was the latest in a string of Russian refusals for the Dalai Lama to enter the country.

“The Dalai Lama is respected in our country as a leading religious activist, with many followers in our country,” the statement said.

But “we are obliged to consider Russia’s national interests when considering a visit by the Dalai Lama.

Agreements with China oblige Russia “to support the policies of the Chinese side on points of China’s government sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement said.

“As is well known, the Dalai Lama’s international activities are viewed negatively in China, where they are considered separatist,” it said.

The Dalai Lama was invited to visit Russia’s southern Buddhist Republic of Kalmykia by its President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov last month.

In August 2002 Russia also refused to allow the spiritual leader to visit its mainly Buddhist Republics of Buryatia, Kalmykia and Tuva.

And in September 2001, the Dalai Lama was forced to call off a visit to Mongolia after Moscow denied him a transit visa.

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