Surprised by the deportation of a Russian citizen—Father Serafim—by immigration authorities at the Chennai International Airport, the Russian embassy in New Delhi on Monday condemned the incident and termed it "unacceptable".
“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 said.
A report in The Hindu said that Father Serafim was slated to take part in a special prayer in Chennai as part of a trip to Asia. The tour was meant to 'give spiritual support to officials' of Russian embassies, as per the report.
However, airport sources said the individual, identified as Anuireikravhenko, with passport number 7Z7405543 had arrived from Abu Dhabi on Etihad airlines flight HY283 at 9.30 am on Sunday.
"He was quizzed for three hours by immigration authorities and deported at 10 pm after being told that there were restrictions on his entry in the country," they said.
He was sent back on an Etihad flight, the sources said.
Meanwhile, Russian news agency Tass quoted a Russian diplomat as saying that the incident was a violation of consular agreements between Russia and India and that the country would raise the issue with Indian authorities.
An official from the Russian embassy in New Delhi told Itar-Tass that it is "a bureaucratic rather than political incident."
Serafim is said to be the superior of an Orthodox church registered in Delhi, and arrived in Chennai from Pakistan.
With input from PTI & IANS