New Delhi, January 18, 2016
The Russian Embassy in India has condemned on Monday the deportation of Russian citizen Hegumen Seraphim by the migration service of Chennai International Airport, the diplomatic mission said in a statement.
"The Russian Embassy condemns the deportation of Russian national Father Serafim," the statement said. "The fact that Russian diplomats were denied the opportunity to make contact with the priest for seven hours is unacceptable."
The statement noted that "he had been denied basic assistance, including food, in spite of requests from the embassy and Russia’s Consulate General in Chennai." "Such disrespect to a clergyman from a friendly country runs counter to the spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation typical of the Russian-Indian relations," the embassy said.
Hegumen Seraphim is a senior priest in an Orthodox Christian parish registered in New Delhi and is officially a Russian Orthodox clergyman in South Asia. He arrived on a flight from Pakistan and was detained at the airport of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, on January 17. The Indian side said the hegumen had been detained because he previously came to the country with a visitor visa at the invitation of the Russian Embassy, and now he came with a tourist visa but said Russia’s Embassy in India was the host party.
Russia’s Consul-General in Chennai Sergey Kotov said on Sunday that the situation with Father Seraphim was a violation of the consular agreements between the two countries, and diplomats intend to raise the issue with the Indian authorities. He noted though that he considered the incident to be "bureaucratic rather than political."