ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 22

From Russia without love

Visa seekers at the Embassy face alleged harassment

By Nalaka Nonis

Complaints against an officer attached to the Russian Embassy in Colombo are on the rise with allegations that persons calling over for visas were being harassed.

Recently the visa officer had allegedly assaulted the 70-year-old father of a medical student who called over at the embassy to get a visa for his son to continue his medical studies in Moscow.The son is a final year student of the People's Friendly University in Moscow.

He had to visit the embassy four or five times in the past two months, as this particular officer had not been satisfied with the documents produced by the father.The victim has complained regarding the matter to the Cinnamon Gardens police saying he was kicked by the officer when he went to seek a visa for his son.

In a petition addressed to the Russian Ambassador in Sri Lanka, a lecturer at a government institution had complained that when he went to the Russian Embassy in Colombo to get a visa extension for his brother who was studying in the Postgraduate Department of the Moscow Medical Academy, the Russian diplomat had refused to speak to him. He said he went to seek a fresh visa for his brother whose visa was expiring soon. His brother could not go personally as he had broken his leg in a motor cycle accident.

“Though I took a medical certificate issued by a registered medical doctor, the visa officer was not willing to speak to me,” he said.
Another complaint was from the vice-president of the Sri Lanka-Russia Friendship Society Ven. Pallekande Ratnasara Thera who had applied for an entry visa. He said he had been asked very impertinent questions by the official in question.

Yet another complaint was from a judge who had recently called to obtain an entry visa and had been asked to stay outside and unduly delayed for more than an hour without a reason.

There were also complaints that when young couples go to obtain entry visas the female partner is admitted and interviewed leaving the husband outside and the visa granted to only one of them.

Sri Lankan students are said to have organised a picketing campaign opposite the Russian Embassy to bring to the notice of the authorities the difficulties they undergo at the hands of this officer when seeking visas. However it has been thwarted with the intervention of the Sri Lanka-Russia Friendship Society.

Society general secretary Dilantha Vidanage said he received a number of complaints from people who visited the Embassy and were allegedly harassed by the officer.

He said he had personally witnessed this visa official talking in undiplomatic and rude language to a Buddhist monk who is respected here and as well as in Russia. He said Russian diplomats here as well as in Russia have been maintaining a very cordial relationship with Sri Lankans and it was pathetic to see the behaviour of this officer.

When The Sunday Times contacted the Russian Embassy in Colombo on Friday to inquire about the allegations, the response was ‘no comment.’

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.