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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Dalai Lama Denied Russian Visa

April 27, 2010

April 26th, 2010 ? The Other Russia

A few weeks back, Buddhist leaders in Russia?s southern Republic of
Kalmykia sent a letter to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov requesting a
visa to allow the Dalai Lama to visit Russia. The last time the exiled
Tibetan spiritual leader visited the country was on a controversial trip
in 2004, when his visa was initially denied. Before that, the Dalai Lama
hadn?t been to Russia since the early 1990s. And it seems that he won?t
be coming back anytime soon: the Supreme Lama of Kalmykia, Telo Tulku
Rinpoche, announced on Friday that the visa request had been denied.

According to Rinpoche, the official response from Moscow cited the 65th
anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II as a complicating
factor in their decision. ?A visit by the Dalai Lama to Russia would be
taken particularly painfully by Beijing during the current anniversary
year of our shared victory with China in the Second World War,? read the
response.

Russia?s concern over preserving positive relations with China, a major
economic partner, was also the basis of the 2004 visa debacle. At the
time, China, which sees the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist and
routinely berates countries that allow him to visit, even issued a
statement of approval of Russia?s refusal to grant the Buddhist leader?s
visa. But following subsequent protests by Russian Buddhists, Moscow
reversed its decision. This time around, said Rinpoche, ?such a refusal
is distressing, but we are not going to stop and will continue to work
in this direction.?

But any reference to the World War II anniversary, which Russians
celebrate annually as Victory Day with more fervency than almost any
other national holiday, means that the Foreign Ministry is unlikely to
relent. In addition to that, Rinpoche said that Moscow?s response
cautioned that future discussions on a possible trip by the Dalai Lama
to Russia would depend on ?signs of an ease in tension in his relations
with the official authorities of the PRC [People's Republic of China].?
Judging by the extent to which China lambasted the United States for the
Buddhist leader?s February trip to meet with US President Barack Obama,
no such ease is in sight.
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