Panaji, May 25: A slew of illegal land deals involving its nationals was one of the reasons why Russia decided to start a consular office in Goa, which hosted 1.5 lakh Russian tourists this season, Ambassador Alexander Kadakin said Friday.
The ambassador also expressed distaste at the manner in which the word "mafia" was being liberally used when it came to rare cases involving Russians nationals.
"Illegal land deals is one of the reasons for setting up the consulate," Kadakin told reporters, after inaugurating the consular premises in Panaji.
Real estate deals involving Russian nationals along Goa's coastal stretch had been under the scanner of central intelligence, of financial intelligence agencies for violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) as well for the dubious antecedants of those who purchased these properties.
Several properties bought by Russian nationals are being probed by the Enforcement Directorate.
Kadakin said that most Russians visiting Goa were regular tourists who had travelled from cold homes for vacations and that only "one, two or three badmashes" from 1.5 lakh tourists sometimes caused trouble.
"I don't think we have to use the word mafia at all. If there is a mafia, inform us and we will take action," he said, adding that in the 1990s, gangs did rule Russia but that it was a thing of the past now.
The Russian ambassador blamed Goa's infamous taxi drivers, even suggesting that it was the cab mafia which was stealing from Russians by charging them fares 10 times in excess of the stipulated fee.
Kadakin thanked the state government for banning consumption of hard liquor on the state's beaches. He said it will "help save" Russian lives.
"No hard drinks should be sold on beaches. It will add safety to the lives of Russians who come here. It will help save their lives," Kadakin told IANS.
Kadakin also said that Russian authorities were educating India-bound tourists to respect local cultures and sensitivities.
The Goa government banned sale and consumption of liquor on beaches, saying the move would help curb crime rate.
Kadakin said the state government should also act against usage of plastic bags, saying the move would result in cleaner beaches.
Over 1.5 lakh Russian tourists landed in Goa from October 2012 to March 2013. According to industry experts, their numbers may rise further in the coming years.
Goa's mild winter sun, its beaches, cheap food and liquor makes it an ideal destination for Russians who witness harsh winter season from October to March in their country.