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Goa rape case threatens India-Russian relations

A brutal attack on a 9-year-old girl resonates far beyond the beaches of Goa.

Earlier this season, on Dec. 1, a local politician allegedly raped a young Russian woman. The Russian government noted this case too in its statement, complaining that the “investigation of that case is being conducted inefficiently.”

On Dec. 26, a taxi driver attempted to rape two Russian girls. The girls escaped into a forest and hid from him for four hours before they were able to escape.

In addition, a Russian teenager's mangled remains were found recently on a train track. There is no development in her case either.

It’s unlikely the most recent attack will affect the Indo-Russian relationship for now, especially since the alleged rapists have been arrested and booked. Still, the Russian government is angry about the lack of reaction by Indian officials. Defense ties may not end, analysts say, but tourism and cultural diplomacy could be affected.

Losing Russian tourists — who form a mixed group of backpackers, luxury travelers and middle-income travelers — would be harmful to Goa, which is beginning to depend more on income from Russian clients.

Tour operators blame regional migrants for the problem, a point bolstered by the fact that both of the alleged rapists were from other states.

“The scene has changed,” said tour operator Joseph. “Now you have an influx of people who come to Goa from other parts of the country to work here.”

Owners of shacks, straw matted thatch roof style beach restaurants with beach sand area as flooring, have yet another explanation: they point to Russian tourists for being crass and aggressive.

“[The Russians] are so rude and obnoxious and don’t know how to order properly,” said one shack owner who did not want to be named.