2010-03-05 13:53:00

Russian senators from Buddhist regions ask foreign ministry for visa for Dalai Lama

Moscow, March 5, Interfax - Senators from Buryatia, Kalmykia and Tuva, predominantly Buddhist internal republics of Russia, have asked the Russian Foreign Ministry to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama, so that he may visit Russia.

"We prepared an appeal to Sergey Lavrov asking him to give a visa to the Dalai Lama for a pastoral visit to Russia. All six senators from the three Russian regions where Buddhism is professed signed it," senator from Kalmykia Mikhail Kapura told Interfax.

Members of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, met with Buddhist leaders from Buryatia, Kalmykia and Tuva at which a decision to officially invite Dalai Lama to Russia was made, he said. "An official invitation, [from Buddhist organizations] which is considered a reason to issue a visa, was sent to His Holiness," Kapura said.

The senator pointed out the recent Dalai Lama's visit to the United States prompted a negative reaction from China. "Since Russia and China have strong neighborly relations and interstate agreements signed, we cannot fail to take into account the opinion of our strategic partner [on issuing a visa to Dalai Lama]. However, we cannot fail to take into account the desires of the people who profess Buddhism. Time is required," he said.

The Foreign Ministry has yet to reply to the senators' appeal, he said. "This shows that the issue is being discussed. This is a good sign," Kapura said.