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UNITED NATIONS, April 16. /TASS/. Alexander Losyukov, the President of the International Centre of the Roerichs, has been denied an entry visa to the United States, Russia’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said on Thursday.
Losyukov was to take part in the opening ceremony of an exhibition on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Roerich Pact, the first international treaty on the protection of cultural heritage, at the United Nations headquarters.
"I did not want to speak about this in public not to reduce our event to such thing, but I was utterly shocked to learn they had denied visa to the president of the International Centre of the Roerichs, a retired ambassador, one of the most esteemed Russian diplomats, Alexander Losyukov, who was to arrive here to take part in this ceremony," Churkin said.
He said he had written a "relevant letter to his colleague," United States ambassador Samantha Power, stressing that the U.S. authorities had "demonstrated contempt of its own culture and history." The Russian diplomat reminded that the Roerich Pact had been signed "in Washington, in the White House, in the presence of President Franklin D. Roosevelt."
"And despite this, they have denied entry visa to the head of the Roerichs Centre. It is very strange and demonstrates that they seem to underestimate the importance of culture in the present-day world," he noted.
He said it "petty political mongering" of the United States authorities. "The reasons are absolutely unclear," he noted. "Either it is done deliberately or it is sheer ignorance. I have no other explanations. The matter has absolutely nothing to do with politics but still we have to face such things. Regrettably."
The centres vice president, Alexander Stetsenko, told TASS he was shocked by this situation. "It reveals paradoxes of our times. Far back, when the Roerich Pact was being signed in the White House, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt said the Roerich Pact ideas had much bigger spiritual implications than those committed to paper. But, regrettably, his descendants in that country have not let our president come," he said, adding that all necessary documents about the exhibition, including a letter fromVitaly Churkin and a greeting message by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had been submitted to the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
In late March, the U.S. authorities made impossible participation in a conference on peacekeeping operations at the United Nations for commander-in-chief of the Russian land troops Oleg Salyukov. The Russian mission at the United Nations said back then the entry visa had been issued just one hour before the projected departure.
The U.S. authorities "sometimes apologize" for such incidents, Churkin said. "But who needs post factum apologies. They’d better take right decisions when these issues are on the table," he underscored.