What's in a name? A lot, when a country once called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) breaks up, and its largest chunk officially turns into ‘Russia’.
India’s long-standing, close diplomatic relations with Russia have hit a strange stumbling block lately.
In the records of the Ministry of External Affairs, properties allotted to Russian embassies and consulates in India are still registered in the name of “the USSR”, even though the USSR disintegrated 18 years ago.
The only exception is the Russian consulate in Kolkata.
Despite repeated reminders, New Delhi has not made the change. Russia is bristling. “It is a question of identity for us,” an official at the Russian embassy said, requesting anonymity. “Only six countries in the world have still to make the change, which includes India.”
Matters came to a head last June, at the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dimitry Medveldev in Yekaterinburg. Sources said Russian and Indian officials had heated arguments, as Singh and the Russian President watched.
Sources also said New Delhi has been dragging its feet because Russia has also balked at allotting it suitable land to house its diplomatic offices in that country.
Officially however, India is not saying a word.