This ‘theory’ about Sonia Gandhi’s Russia visits and Rafale ‘controversy’ is catching attention on Twitter

Yesterday, a Twitter user by the handle, @WrongDoc, in a series of tweets raised questions over former Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s Russia visits.

He cites an April 2018 article which talks about Sonia Gandhi inaugurating Indira exhibition in Moscow, where she did not interact with political figures of Russia since it was her private visit. As per the report, The organisers of the exhibition were the Federal Archival Agency, the State Archives of the Russian Federation, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust and the Embassy of Russia in India.

On visiting Russian Federal State Archives website, one can find how one of the organisers of the exhibition was Congress’ Siddaramaiah-led Government of Karnataka.

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One wonders whether the Congress-led state government was used as a cover for Sonia’s visit to Moscow. Right now, when the Indian political discourse is heated up due to the recent Rafale controversy, Sonia Gandhi is again in Russia to participate in Eurasian Women’s Forum, organised by the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Here, Sonia Gandhi was debating on ‘The Positive Energy of Young People’.

There are no other details available on the rest of her schedule in Russia. Sonia Gandhi, owing to her health, seldom travels abroad, but has been to Russia twice in six month period with a visit to an undisclosed location (presumed the US) in May for her health check-up. So, as @WrongDoc says, in April, Siddaramaiah helps arrange Sonia Gandhi’s visit to Moscow, loses elections and has to step aside to let Kumaraswamy become chief minister and in between, the mother-son duo, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, mysteriously go away in the middle of political turmoil in Karnataka to an undisclosed location, thereby delaying formation of Karnataka government.

Sonia Gandhi’s mysterious visits to Russia are not new. In 2005, Sonia took a Reliance jet to fly to Moscow. She was a private guest of President Putin, when she was neither the Prime Minister nor President of India, only the President of the ruling political party, Congress. The official information of foreign trips by Sonia and Rahul under the UPA is, interestingly, not available. A Wikileaks cable from the time speculates that ‘she might use the trip to dig up information on UP Chief Minister Yadav’s 1997 Sukhoi deal and also to ease relations between the Congress and its Communist allies.’ Sonia Gandhi never held any official position in the ministry.

These surprise visits to Russia are not new for the Gandhi family. Back in 1985, Rajiv Gandhi made a surprise visit to Moscow to discuss a Kremlin arms control proposal with then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. A now-declassified December 1985 CIA report said that the Soviets pumped in huge amount of cash to influence Indian politicians, including a large number of Congress MPs during Prime Minister Indira Gandhis government, to influence Indian policies. This even continued in Rajiv Gandhi government. “As many as 40 per cent Congress MPs in (Indira) Gandhi’s last government had received Soviet political contributions,” the report had said.

A Telegraph report states that a book, co-authored by Christopher Andrew, professor of contemporary history with KGB defector ‘The Mitrokhin Archive Volume II’, states 10 Indian newspapers were on KGB payroll. KGB was the main security agency for the Soviet Union till the dissolution of Soviet state. The book reportedly says how India in the 1970s was one of the countries most successfully penetrated by Soviet intelligence. The book alleges that the Congress coffers during Indira Gandhi’s regime was filled by KGB and the principal fundraiser, Lalit Narayan Mishra knew he was accepting Soviet money.


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