Russia won't give visa to Dalai Lama

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Los Angeles Times

MOSCOW -- The Russian government reversed course Friday and denied a visa to the Dalai Lama, complaining that the exiled Tibetan leader mixes politics with religion to a degree unacceptable to China -- and, by extension, to Russia.

"Evidence of this is, among other things, the inclusion in the delegation of members of the so-called Tibetan government-in-exile, artists and other figures," said Boris Malakhov, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.

The ministry previously indicated it would approve the visit, which would be the Dalai Lama's first official visit since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Tibetan leader made an unofficial visit to Buddhist regions in 1992, and received a transit visa for a journey to Mongolia in 1996. But a similar request for a transit visa was denied last year.

ina seized control of Tibet in 1950 and still fears the influence of the Dalai Lama, who fled the region after Chinese forces crushed a rebellion in 1959.

Russia has about 1 million Buddhists, mostly in the south.

The Dalai Lama's supporters said efforts had been made to ease concerns about the visit, including limiting his itinerary to Buddhist regions and restricting his meetings to religious figures.

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