Moscow Queries Athens Over Russian Priests’ Visa Bias Claims



Russian Foreign Ministry representative Maria Zakharova

Moscow is asking Athens to clarify the Greek authorities’ reported refusal to grant visas to Russian Orthodox clerics, Russia‘s Foreign Ministry representative Maria Zakharova has said.

Some Russian priests have claimed that the Greek authorities have denied them a visa without explanation or supplied only short-term travel documents.

“We have sent the relevant inscription to the Greek Embassy in Moscow asking for a position on the situation to either confirm or reject the information … We expect a reaction from the Greek side,” Zakharova told a news briefing.

Zakharova said that any discrimination in issuing a visa is unacceptable. “The Foreign Ministry is always closely watching the situation regarding visa issuance for Russian citizens. Of course, any discrimination regarding the issuance of a visa, whether it has to do with a particular country, the profession or the religion of the applicant, is unacceptable,” she said.

Greece – Russia relations have soured after allegations from the Greek side that the Kremlin has been funding protests against the use of the term ‘Macedonia’ in the new name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

In a report carried by the BBC’s Russian-language service on Thursday, a source from the Orthodox Church in Constantinople claimed this Greek “policy” is because “[Russian] priests … are perceived as potential spies and agents of influence”.

Thursday’s report claims the heart of conflict is over moves by Orthodox clergy in Ukraine to win independence — autocephaly — and break away from Moscow.