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24 Mar, 2023 17:52

Russia’s UN mission accuses US of ‘discrimination’

Washington delays Russian diplomats' visas and imposes travel restrictions on them, an official says
Russia’s UN mission accuses US of ‘discrimination’

The US is failing to fulfill its commitments as the nation that hosts the United Nations headquarters, a diplomat with the Russian mission to the New York City-based international body has said.

America’s treatment of diplomats and even Russian nationals employed by the UN amounts to nothing but “discrimination,” the head of the mission’s Legal Executive Office, Sergey Leonidchenko, told a UN meeting on relations with the host nation on Wednesday.

The situation with visas for Russian diplomats “is degrading,” Leonidchenko said, adding that on average they have to wait for about five months. As many as 37 diplomats with Russia’s UN mission, as well as 49 their family members, are currently waiting for their visas to be extended, he revealed.

According to the official, there are cases when Russians who have been awarded positions within the UN Secretariat structures cannot get US visas “for years” due to Washington’s position. As a result of such “visa discrimination” department heads cannot fully perform their duties, Leonidchenko stated.

In its resolution adopted in December 2022, the UN General Assembly expressed “serious concern” over the US not issuing entry visas to “certain representatives of certain Member states” and also “strongly” urged Washington to “remove all remaining travel restrictions imposed by it on staff of certain missions” and the Secretariat.

The resolution also maintained that privileges and immunities enjoyed by the UN missions of various nations cannot be subject to restrictions resulting from their bilateral relations with the host country. The document called on Washington to promptly resolve all the existing issues with other nations’ delegations at the UN in New York. Yet, according to Leonidchenko, the US did not just fail to do this but also introduced new restrictions against Russian diplomats.

In December 2022, the US demanded that all members of the Russian UN mission seek permission from US authorities to travel beyond a 25-mile radius of Manhattan’s Columbus District. Previously, they only had to provide notification about such movements.

“Since December, all our staff members have been denied any travel beyond this zone without any reasons,” Leonidchenko said, calling this “blatant discrimination.” UN officials have so far not commented on the Russian delegation’s statements.

Moscow has repeatedly accused Washington of violating its obligations under the 1947 agreement on the hosting of the UN headquarters in New York City, which requires the US to grant access to foreign representatives without charge and “as promptly as possible.”

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