Ambassador Alexander Kadakin.Alexander Antipin/TASS
Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin passed away on the morning of Jan. 26, the Russian Embassy in New Delhi said in a statement.
“With deep regret and profound sorrow the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of India informs that Alexander Kadakin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of India, passed away on January 26 in one of New Delhi central hospitals after a brief illness,” the embassy said.
A long-term India hand, who served in India for over 28 years, Kadakin was fluent in Hindi and Urdu and admired across the political spectrum in India and among the Indian general public.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter that he was “deeply saddened at the passing away of Ambassador Alexander Kadakin.” Modi added that Kadakin was “an admirable diplomat, a great friend of India and a fluent Hindi speaker who tirelessly contributed to stronger India-Russia ties.”
While paying tribute to Kadakin, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised him for his “professionalism, analytical and creative abilities,” and said Russia suffered an “irreplaceable loss.”
Putin added, “Mr Kadakin was firm and consistent in defending our country’s interests, played an active part in resolving important foreign policy tasks and made a particularly big personal contribution to developing Russian-Indian relations, which is one of our foreign policy priorities.”
Indian Ministry of External Affairs Spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted that India “lost a valued friend who nurtured the India-Russia relationship for many decades as a distinguished Russian diplomat.”
While paying tribute to Ambassador Kadakin, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said his death was a “huge loss.” She said Kadakin was “unique, outstanding and fabulous.”
“His passing away is a huge personal and professional loss to me, and all my colleagues,” Indian Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran told TASS. “Ambassador Kadakin devoted his career of many decades to the strengthening of India-Russia relations, and building bridges of understanding between our two countries. He was one of Russia's foremost experts on India. He was widely respected in India. We deeply mourn his loss, and pray for his eternal peace.”
P.S. Raghavan, who served as India’s Ambassador to Russia from 2013 to 2016 said he was devastated by the news. In a comment on RIR’s Facebook page, he called Kadakin “a many-splendoured personality, deeply knowledgeable about India, an untiring soldier in the cause of India-Russia friendship.”
The ambassador, who was born in Kishinev, USSR on July 22, 1949, joined the Soviet Union’s diplomatic service in 1972 after graduating with honours from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was briefly in the Soviet Embassy in New Delhi in 1971 as a probationer and then returned a year later as an attaché.
After a few diplomatic assignments in New Delhi in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, Kadakin was appointed as the Russian Ambassador to India in 1999. He served as Ambassador till 2004 and then returned to the country in the same role in 2009.
Kadakin also served as Russia’s Ambassador to Nepal from 1993 to 1997, Ambassador–at–Large and Secretary of the Council of the Heads of Entities of Russia in 2004-2005, and Ambassador to Sweden from 2005 to 2009. He was also fluent in French and Romanian and had an advanced understanding of Swedish.
“Starting from 1971 the entire diplomatic career of Alexander Kadakin was closely associated with promoting Russian-Indian relations,” the Russian Embassy in New Delhi said in the Jan. 26 statement.
Even before he was appointed Ambassador, Kadakin was seen by the Soviet (and Russian) heads of state as one of the foremost India experts. He accompanied Leonid Brezhnev, Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin on their visits to India.
“He supported India studies in Russia which is going through a difficult phase right now,” Andrei Volodin, Professor at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told RIR. “Whenever a fellow India-expert visited India, Kadakin would always try to find time in his busy schedule to meet him/her and learn about the expert’s experience. As a person living in India he was eager to learn the outside perspective. This is a sign of very high professionalism.”
Volodin added that the Russian Ambassador was was in love with India and even had plans to stay in the country post-retirement.
Ambassador Kadakin expressed his love for India on numerous occasions, calling the country his “karma-bhoomi,” which is Hindi for the land where a person works. A follower of Nicholas Roerich, he also founded the International Roerich Memorial Trust.
Ambassador Kadakin wrote the following poem when Russia and India celebrated the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2012:
“Once I heard you weeping…
Timidly. The scent of salty sands
Was strumming the sitar.
Your laments made me love and treasure you,
And when you were leaving,
A soft sirocco burned my lips.
It was your kiss, O India!
You put on laced mantle of waves.
The blessed ocean adorned your hair
With sparks of celestial mystery.
A coloured shred of memory
Remained in my mind.
I have found you, my many Indias!”
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