Russian pilgrims have difficulty obtaining visas to visit the Greek Athos peninsula, reported the Govorit Moskva of (Moscow Speaking) radio station.
“There is already a problem and it is not even related to church. The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not issue visas not only to servants of the Russian Orthodox Church but also to pilgrims to visit Athos,” said the representative of the St. Andrew Foundation.
In order to go to Athos, pilgrims had to obtain Italian visas and Catholics used Schengen visas.
In addition, parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church will not be able to receive communion in the temples on Mount Athos in Greece due to the worsened relationship between the Moscow and Constantinople patriarchates.
Athos is a favorite place of spiritual tourism for a lot of eminent Russians. Russian President Vladimir Putin twice visited Mount Athos. Other famous people who visited Athos include the ex-governors of St. Petersburg Georgy Poltavchenko and Alexander Beglov, as well the Rotenberg brothers, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika and many other Russian businessmen and officials.
The fact is that many of these people Athos was not only a center of spiritual power and a place for making useful acquaintances but also an object for solid cash injections. According to the BBC, since 2005, Russians’ donations to Athos monasteries have amounted to over $200 million.