RUSSIALINK: “Shvydkoi upset that Bolshoi actors fail to get U.S. visas, sees explanations as ‘weak'” – Interfax

Bolshoi Theater file photo

MOSCOW. April 23 (Interfax) – Russian Special Presidential Representative on International and Cultural Cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoi said he was disappointed to learn that a number of Bolshoi Theater performers were unable to receive visas for a United States tour. “I was upset to learn that Bolshoi Theater actors did not receive visas for a U.S. tour,” Shvydkoi told Interfax. “The […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Frustrated at visa holdup, Russians give up on American vacations” – Washington Post/Amie Ferris-Rotman

File Photo of Airplane Approaching Runway About to Land

“… Escalating tensions between Moscow and Washington are putting a damper on Russians’ vacation plans, catching ordinary people in a diplomatic crossfire …. A year ago, obtaining a U.S. tourist visa could take less than a week. Now, it comes with an eight-month delay. * * * The Kremlin may be delighted that fewer of its citizens are being exposed to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Acclaimed Russian ballerinas denied entry into U.S.” – Page Six/Oli Coleman

Bolshoi Theater file photo

“Amid roiling relations between the U.S. and Russia, two members of Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet – including one of its prima ballerinas – have been refused visas to perform in New York City …. Organizers of a Lincoln Center gala where Olga Smirnova and Jacopo Tissi were due to dance on Monday believe the Department of Homeland Security’s decision may be […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Expelling Russian Diplomats Isn’t Enough” – Atlantic Council/Jakub Janda

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

“So far, twenty-eight nations have sent home more than 140 Russian diplomats and spies in a coordinated response to the Russian nerve agent assassination attempt in Salisbury, England. Symbolically, this unprecedented expulsion of Russian officials constitutes an important show of unity, but its practical impact in terms of hindering Russian subversion operations is limited. With the exception of the United […]

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RUSSIALINK: Interfax: Moscow urges London to explain situation surrounding visa for Victoria Skripal – Foreign Ministry

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

MOSCOW. April 6 (Interfax) – The Russian Foreign Ministry has urged United Kingdom officials to explain what is happening about the issuing of a visa to Victoria Skripal, cousin of Yulia Skripal, who is undergoing treatment at a Salisbury hospital after being poisoned, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said. London’s refusal to comment on the situation is outrageous, Zakharova […]

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Can Russia Sustain Its Foreign Policy Power Plays in 2018?

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jonathan Brown, Editor, Moscow Times – January 31, 2018) When Vladimir Putin landed in Syria late last year, he was greeted by President Bashar Assad not as a foreign dignitary, but as the guardian of the embattled nation. “Syria has been preserved as a sovereign and independent state,” Putin told soldiers assembled at the Khmeimim […]

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U.S. Urges Travelers To Reconsider Visiting Russia

State Department Building and U.S. Flag

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 11, 2018) The U.S. State Department listed Russia as one of the most dangerous countries to visit in a new travel advisory system released Wednesday, together with states including Sudan, Pakistan and Niger. The new four-tier advisory replaces the State Department’s travel warnings and alerts system and is based on seven risk factors including […]

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U.S. Consulates Resume Visa Services in Russia

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 11, 2017) U.S. consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok have resumed processing applications for travel visas, after suspending their work this summer as relations between Washington and Moscow soured. The U.S. Embassy has warned consulate services might still be affected by low staff numbers. The consulates temporarily suspended processing non-immigrant visas in August […]

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  NEWSLINK: “It’s not just anecdotal: the U.S. is rejecting more and more visa requests from Russians” – Meduza

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

“The U.S. State Department published data revealing that American officials have increasingly been denying B1/B2 tourist visas to Russian citizens. The adjusted refusal rate for Russians in fiscal year 2017 was 11.61 percent – 1.25 percent higher than a year before. In 2009, the State Department denied just 4.9 percent of Russians’ tourist visa applications. …”

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NEWSLINK: “NATO is headed for a very messy break-up” – Boston Globe/ Stephen Kinzer

Turkey and Environs Satellite Image

“… Recently Turkey and the United States stopped issuing visas to each other’s citizens. This is more than just another travel ban. It is a geopolitical spectacle unique in modern history: two allied countries blocking normal back-and-forth travel. An old relationship has gone deeply sour. …”

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Interfax: U.S. consulates general in Russia technically incapable of issuing visas for now – diplomat

Artist's Rendition of U.S. Embassy, Moscow, with the Russian Foreign Ministry in the Background

MOSCOW. Aug 31 (Interfax) – A number of technical problems need to be dealt with before U.S. consulates general in Russia begin to issue visas, head of the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section Laurence Tobey told reporters on Thursday. The capping of diplomatic personnel heavily impacted the capacities of consulates general, which had to reconfigure their activity, Tobey said. He noted […]

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Interfax: Russian Foreign Ministry against tying U.S. diplomatic staff cuts to visa matters

Artist's Rendition of U.S. Embassy, Moscow, with the Russian Foreign Ministry in the Background

MOSCOW. Aug 1 (Interfax) – Moscow said that tying the reduction of United States diplomatic staff in Russia to visa processing times was unacceptable. “Tying staff cuts to visa processing does not withstand any criticism, because no one was expelling the Americans, no one dictated, nor indicated who is to be sent home and who is to stay put. Therefore, […]

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U.S. Sanctions Are Another Gift to Putin; Far from being hurt by them, he finds them useful.

U.S. Capitol in Bright Sunlight

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – July 31, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. Russian President Vladimir Putin tends to respond to Western sanctions in ways its authors probably didn’t anticipate: by going after those Russians who could most help […]

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Russian Opposition Leader Navalny Lands in Barcelona for Treatment

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 8, 2017) Russian opposition leader and presidential candidate Alexei Navalny landed in Barcelona Sunday to receive medical treatment, the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources. On May 4, Navalny said he had received a passport for foreign travel. But his lawyer later Tweeted that a probation officer had informed Navalny that he shouldn’t […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin Critic Navalny Says Russia Stops Him Traveling Abroad” – Reuters

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said … authorities in Russia were stopping him [from] going abroad to seek urgent medical treatment after an attack that left him mostly blind in one eye.  … authorities … unexpectedly issued … an international passport … [giving] the impression he could fly to a foreign clinic to get treatment …. But he said a senior official from the country’s prison […]

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Russia Gives Putin Critic Navalny Passport to Travel Abroad

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov – May 4, 2017) #Russian opposition leader Alexey #Navalny said he’s been issued with a passport that would allow him to seek treatment abroad for eye damage suffered when an assailant threw a chemical in his face. The Federal Migration Service notified him that he can collect the passport after a five-year struggle to […]

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Border regime with Belarus was not introduced, at issue are border zones to regulate trips by citizens of third countries – Kremlin

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

MOSCOW. Feb 3 (Interfax) – #Moscow has pointed it out to #Minsk that no decisions on the introduction of a border regime on the #Russian-#Belarusian border have been made and the Federal Security Service director’s order on the creation of border zones is aimed at regulating trips by citizens of third countries. “Belarusian President Alexander #Lukashenko [on Friday] made critical […]

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Russia has not recognized DPR, LPR passports – Peskov

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

MOSCOW. Feb 3 (Interfax) – Russia has not officially recognized the passports of people who live on the territory of the self-proclaimed Donbas republics, there are specific humanitarian actions by the local authorities and companies, Russian presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov said. During a meeting with journalists on Friday, Peskov was asked to comment on a report that the passports […]

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Muscovites bring flowers to commemorate slaughtered girl, nationalists demand visas for Central Asia

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

MOSCOW. March 1 (Interfax) – Muscovites are bringing flowers to the Oktyabrskoye Pole metro station to commemorate a young girl, whose nanny was detained near the metro station on Monday with the girl’s head in her hands. There are lots of flowers, some with black ribbons, soft toys, chocolate, candies and candles near the entrance to the metro station. Pedestrians […]

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Defender of Putin, Detained in Russia: American Activist Deemed U.S. ‘Agent’

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – rferl.org –Carl Schreck – February 17, 2016) For a person who has dedicated her life to improving ties between Moscow and the West — and who has passionately denounced what she calls the “demonization” of President Vladimir Putin by Western media and officials — Sharon Tennison has gotten a strange reception in Russia. Tennison, an American activist whose […]

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52% of Russians favor open borders with Ukraine, without visas or customs

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Interfax – February 3, 2016) Half of Russians (52 percent) believe that Russia and Ukraine should be independent countries but friends, with open borders and without visas or customs, Levada Center told Interfax. The opinion was held by 52 percent of respondents in 2015, and 59 percent in 2014, the sociologists said. A third argue that Russia-Ukraine relations should be […]

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Putin talks about possibility of granting asylum to Assad in Russia

File Photo of Bashar al-Assad and Sergei Lavrov

(Interfax – January 12, 2016) It is premature to discuss if Russia should grant asylum to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. “I think it is quite premature to discuss this. We granted asylum to Mr. Snowden, which was far more difficult than to do the same for Mr al-Assad,” he said in an interview with […]

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Consumer-Rights Advocate Calls Putin ‘Paranoid’ After ‘Foreign-Agent’ Slur

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, June 24, 2015) A Russian consumer-protection group lambasted by President Vladimir Putin as a “foreign agent” after giving cautionary advice to Russians traveling to annexed Crimea has accused Putin of “paranoia” and called him “badly informed.” Mikhail Anshakov, chairman of the Moscow-based Society for the Protection of Consumer Rights (OZPP), said his […]

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EU Says No Visa Liberalization For Ukraine And Georgia

EU Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – May 8, 2015) The EU Commission has said neither Georgia nor Ukraine would obtain visa-free travel to the EU’s Schengen zone at the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit later this month. Speaking in Brussels on May 8 after the EU Commission published its annual visa report on both countries, the spokeswoman for home affairs, Natasha Bertaud, said […]

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NEWSLINK Association for Slavic, East European & Eurasian Studies: On Russian Visas for Researchers

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

For non-Russian passport holders required to obtain a visa to conduct research in Russia, the safest visa choice appears to be the Common Humanitarian visa type, backed by an invitation from a Russian academic organization, and specifying “scientific-technical” purposes of the visit, rather than a tourist or business visa. You can obtain a multi-entry humanitarian visa as well, at least […]

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Russia to fingerprint foreigners seeking visas starting Dec. 10, 2014

File Photo of Airplane Approaching Runway About to Land

(Interfax – November 25, 2014) Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on the collection of biometric data for personal identification of foreign citizens and stateless persons. The decree posted on the official legal information portal says foreigners and stateless persons applying for Russian entry visas or transit visas in their travels across Russian territory will be fingerprinted starting […]

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RIA Novosti: Putin’s spokesman rules out return of Iron Curtain

Berlin Wall, Fencing, Barbed Wire, Women

(RIA Novosti – Moscow, October 1, 2014) It is absurd to raise the issue of a possible closure of the Russian borders, the Russian president’s press secretary Dmitriy Peskov has said, commenting on a survey by the Levada Centre about the possibility of a return of the Iron Curtain. “The absurdity of this survey does not require any answer,” Peskov […]

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Most Russians Are Against Broadening Foreign Travel Restrictions, Survey Shows

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 1, 2014) More than half of all Russians are against the idea of the government broadening a ban on travel to Western countries, a recent survey has shown, but one third considers more groups should be prevented from leaving the country. Out of the 1,600 people questioned by independent pollster Levada Center, only 55 […]

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Hiding dual citizenship now a criminal offense in Russia

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Anastasia Vityazeva, special to RBTH – August 12, 2014) New legislation requires Russians with passports of two or more countries to inform the migration service on their own initiative, with those who intentionally conceal dual citizenship being criminally liable. A government representative claims that Russians who are a citizen of more than one […]

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Russian Expats Wrestle With Dual-Citizenship Dilemma

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

(RFE/RL – Carl Schreck – June 23, 2014) A new Russian law criminalizing the failure to declare foreign passports has raised fears of a fresh Kremlin crackdown on opponents at home, but Russian expatriates technically excluded from the statute are now scrambling to determine whether they must comply as well. As it turns out, they may not be off the […]

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Russia To Test Migrant Workers On Country’s History

Migrant Workers file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Farangis Najibullah and Umid Bobomatov – June 13, 2014) So you want to work in Russia? You may be a skilled bricklayer — but do you know when Ivan the Terrible reined in the boyars? Or when the Polish-Lithuanian forces were expelled from Muscovy? When Peter the Great founded St. Petersburg? No? Well you might want to start […]

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Interfax: Snowden must apply for extension if he decides to stay in Russia – head of Federal Migration Service council

Edward Snowden file photo

MOSCOW. June 2 (Interfax) – Former CIA analyst Edward Snowden will have to ask for extension of his temporary asylum if he decides to stay in Russia, Vladimir Volokh, the head of the Public Council of the Federal Migration Service, told Interfax on Monday. “He has to request an extension of his temporary stay. No additional documents are filed if […]

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Russia Targets ‘Traitorous’ Dual Citizenship Holders

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – May 30, 2014) Russia is about to criminalize failure to declare dual citizenship in what lawmakers say is a bid to crack down on the “fifth column” – and the fifth column is duly scared. Exposing holders of multiple passports may be the first step to banning dual citizenship, said a holder […]

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New Law Requires Knowledge of Russian For Residency

Migrant Workers file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 22, 2014) President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill that requires foreigners to prove their ability to speak Russian while also giving his seal of approval to a separate bill that will make it easier to grant citizenship to Russian-speakers in former Soviet states. The new immigration rules for foreign citizens, published […]

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Interfax: Moscow’s response to “mirror” U.S. sanctions, asymmetric measures being considered – Russian diplomat Sergei Ryabkov

Sergei Ryabkov file photo

MOSCOW/VIENNA. March 20 (Interfax) – Moscow may draft its own “blacklist” of American officials as part of a response that will “mirror” the sanctions imposed by the United States on Russia, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “If Washington restarts measures to escalate tensions and confrontation, as well as attempts to tell us what we should do using the […]

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Interfax: Sergei Lavrov says Western sanctions on Russia are not lawful

Sergei Lavrov file photo

MOSCOW. March 20 (Interfax) – The sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union and the United States do not have international legal grounds, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “Unilateral sanctions have never done any good. They are not legal. And they do not have international legal grounds,” Lavrov said at a State Duma sitting on Thursday. “The UN […]

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Large investors, alumni of Russian universities to enjoy easier naturalization – newspaper

File Photo of Man Placing Stack of Large Bills into Inside Pocket of Suitcoat

MOSCOW. Feb 12 (Interfax) – The Federal Migration Service and the Economic Development Ministry have drawn up a law, which facilitates naturalization of foreign citizens, Kommersant wrote on Wednesday. The simpler naturalization procedure will be primarily granted to businessmen who invest at least ten million rubles in Russia and foreign alumni of Russian colleges and universities who work in Russia […]

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PACE Threatens European Magnitsky Act

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – January 29, 2014) The Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe, or PACE, voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve a resolution critical of Russia for its handling of the investigation into the death of Sergei Magnitsky, over the fierce objections of Russian lawmakers present for the vote. By adopting the resolution, which […]

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Russia to start fingerprinting foreign visitors in July

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(RIA Novosti – January 23, 2014) Russia is planning to introduce mandatory fingerprinting for all foreigners applying for visas to the country. Under the terms of a draft presidential decree posted online Thursday, the Foreign Ministry will launch a pilot project in July to test the necessary equipment and procedures. The project envisions fingerprinting of foreigners at Russian embassies and […]

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EU Links Easing of Visas to Russia’s Rights Record

EU Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Yekaterina Kravtsova – January 20, 2014) An official from the European Union spoke out about several concerns over Russia during a visit to Moscow on Friday, warning that plans for a visa-free regime would be put on hold until issues of corruption and human rights are addressed. The meeting came shortly after the EU decided […]

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Hue and cry as US journalist barred from Russia – or was he?

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Business New Europe MOSCOW BLOG – bne.eu – Ben Aris – January 15, 2014) The international press threw up a hue and cry on January 14 after it emerged a US journalist David Satter had been barred from re-entering Russia. Superficially, it appears the Kremlin has banned a western journalist because he was critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime. […]

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Journalist’s Expulsion Reveals Visa Quagmire

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – January 16, 2014) As pundits speculated about possible political repercussions of Russia’s decision to bar U.S. journalist David Satter, the country’s often cumbersome and conflicting visa application process came into the spotlight on Wednesday. While for some observers the visa bureaucracy was seen as a tool to cushion the state’s political decisions, […]

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Interfax: Russia-EU summit may become a “suitable moment” for progress on visas – Russian envoy

EU Map

BRUSSELS. Jan 14 (Interfax) – A Russia-European Union summit, due to open in Brussels on January 28, could be a “suitable moment” to sign an agreement to further simplify visa rules, while the launch of talks on visa-free travel could send a favorable signal for further promoting the sides’ strategic partnership, Russia’s envoy to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said. “The […]

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Expulsion of U.S. Journalist Sparks Controversy Before Olympics

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – January 14, 2014) Russia has barred a U.S. journalist for five years in a move that has triggered a frenzy between Russian authorities and Western media on Tuesday, signaling possible heightened tensions ahead of upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. It was not clear whether David Satter, 66, was banned entry into […]

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Record Number of U.S. Visas Issued to Russians in 2013

Stylized Russian and U.S. Flags with Number 200, 1807-2007

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 13, 2014) A record total of about 250,000 U.S. nonimmigrant visas were issued to Russians last year, a jump of 15 percent compared to the previous record year, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said Monday. In 2013, more than 30 percent of Russians obtained U.S. visas without going through an interview due to […]

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Interfax: Moscow to respond proportionally in case Washington expands Magnitsky List – official [Matviyenko]

Valentina Matviyenko file photo

(Interfax – December 18, 2013) The so-called Magnitsky List is an utterly unfriendly step regarding Russia and Moscow will take proportionate measures if it is expanded, Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said. “I think that this law is an unfriendly step regarding us and does not contribute to improving the climate in our bilateral relations with the United States. […]

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Interfax: Russia will pay U.S. “in its own coin” for expanding Magnitsky List – Russian diplomat

Memorial Flowers and Photo of Sergei Magnitsky

MOSCOW. Dec 16 (Interfax) – Russia will answer symmetrically if the United States expands the so-called Magnitsky List, i.e. the list of Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses and subject to U.S. financial and visa sanctions under the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “Decisions on putting more Russian […]

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RIA Novosti: New Battle Looms in US-Russian ‘War of Blacklists’

File Photo of U.S. Capitol Dome

WASHINGTON, December 9 (By Carl Schreck for RIA Novosti) ­ The United States and Russia face a potential renewed blacklist war as a deadline looms this week for Washington to report on controversial sanctions against alleged Russian rights abusers. The US administration has until Saturday to submit to Congress its inaugural annual report on any additions to the so-called “Magnitsky […]

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