2018-08-07 13:12:00

Greece not issuing long-term visas to Russian priests - Russian patriarch's ex-spokesman

Moscow, August 7, Interfax Archpriest Vladimir Vigilyansky, the former head of the press service of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and now the father superior of the Church of Saint Tatiana at Moscow State University, says he has run into the problem of the Greek authorities being unwilling to give long-terms to priests.

"We received our passports with visas at the visa center: my wife was given [a visa] for three years, and I got one for only a month. I asked the young woman who was returning our passports why, and she replied, 'You should not have written that you were a priest. If you'd written that you were a pensioner, they would have given you a three-year [visa],'" Father Vladimir wrote in a letter to Greek Ambassador to Russia Andreas Friganas, a copy of which he posted on his Facebook page.

He wrote that this was the first such situation he had encountered in 25 years and that he had received many long-term Schengen visas at French, Italian, German, and Swiss consulates, and more than once at the Greek one.

Since he first wrote about this issue, many Russian clergymen have said that they have experienced the same situation in the past six months: they were given visas for a week, two weeks, or at most a month, the priest wrote.

"It turns out that had I applied for a visa as a member of the Russian Union of Journalists or a member of the Russian Union of Writers (I am both) or, as the visa officer suggested, as a pensioner, there would not have been such discrimination on professional grounds," Father Vladimir wrote, adding that the refusal of a long-term visa was a "gross violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms adopted on November 4, 1950, by 47 members of the Council of Europe," Vigilyansky said.

There has been no reply to the letter.