The President of the Kalmykia Republic in the Russian Federation, Kirsan Nikolayevich llyumzhinov, arrived in Dharamsala, India, on December 25, 2002, for a meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Ilyumzhinov is leading a seven-member delegation, which includes a member of parliament, Kalmykia’s Permanent Representative in Moscow, business leaders and Telo Rinpoche, a prominent Kalmykia Buddhist leader, the Tibetan-language Voice of Tibet radio reported.

In addition to meeting the Dalai Lama, the delegation will meet Tibetan Government officials. The Kalmykia President has visited Dharamsala several times in recent years.

(Although the Kalmykia President was scheduled to arrive in Dharamsala on December 24, his plane could not land then; he arrived the next day. Subsequently, his program was curtailed.)

Ilyumzhinov, who has met the Dalai Lama in the past, had invited Dalai Lama to visit Kalmykia this year.

The visit could not take place because the Russian Government denied visas to the Dalai Lama and his entourage.

Approximately 46 percent of Kalmykia’s population is Buddhist.

On April 12, 1993 llyumzhinov became the first elected President of the Republic of Kalmykia. On October 27, 2002, he was reelected for the third term.