A file picture of Ambassador of Russia to India, Alexander M. Kadakin at an event in New Delhi. (Photo: Getty Images)
New Delhi: Alexander Kadakin was a Russian who considered India as his home. He not only spoke Hindi fluently but also wrote letters in chaste Hindi to the External Affairs Minister.
After joining the Soviet diplomatic service, he first arrived in India in 1972 and served in Delhi till 1978 as a probationer and third secretary. That’s when his love affair with India began and he went on to spend at least 30 years in India over different tenures and postings.
Former Indian Ambassador to Russia PS Raghavan who knew Kadakin well said he was someone who had deep knowledge about India and had great empathy for the country. While narrating an anecdote Raghavan said, “He truly loved India. He was most unhappy when he was posted to Sweden in 2005. He once told me that he spent four years in Sweden plotting how to return to India. That’s how much he loved the country.”
Indian journalists remember him as someone who was full of stories and good humour. I had the opportunity of meeting him right outside South Block in October last year. Just days before that, India had carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control in response to the attack on an army camp in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian and Pakistani governments were involved in a diplomatic war. This reporter requested Ambassador Kadakin for an interview and he obliged. In the six-minute-long interview, he came out strongly in support of India’s military response and perhaps the only foreign diplomat to do so. Without mincing any words, he said, “We have no doubts that terrorists came from Pakistan. We welcome the surgical strikes. Every country has the right to defend itself.”
One of his last major diplomatic assignments was the Indo-Russian strategic dialogue which took place in November. Sadly, he passed away on the Republic Day of India, a country he loved so much.