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25 Jul, 2023 14:24

Major drop in visas issued to Americans – Moscow

A propaganda frenzy in the US media is largely to blame for the trend, a senior Russian diplomat in Washington has said
Major drop in visas issued to Americans – Moscow

Russia has approved three times fewer visas to American citizens in the first seven months of 2023 than it did in the same period last year, Nadezhda Shumova, head of the consular division at the country’s embassy in the US, has revealed.

In an interview with the Russian daily Izvestia released on Monday, Shumova said that the embassy “has seen a significant decrease in the number of visas issued” to Americans.

While cautioning that it was too early to jump to conclusions and give exact figures for all of 2023, she noted that “if we compare the number of entry permits issued between January and July last year, then it has decreased by almost three times.”

Shumova described this dynamic as “unsurprising,” pointing to a “flood of anti-Russian propaganda in most American media.”

At the same time, she dismissed the notion that US citizens now have to overcome more obstacles to obtain a Russian visa, recalling that the country’s consular offices in the US “continue to work as normal.”

“In practice, we see that it has been much more difficult for Russians to obtain an American visa for several years now,” she pointed out, noting that the US embassy in Moscow “has suspended the processing of most types of travel documents, citing staff shortages.”

Washington has also been reluctant to reopen two consulates in Vladivostok and Ekaterinburg, located in Russia’s Far East and in the central part of the country, respectively, the official said. “As a result, our fellow citizens are forced to fly to neighboring countries… to obtain permission to enter America at a much higher cost,” Shumova added.

The US diplomatic representation in Russia was already on the decline before the start of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, which sent bilateral relations into a tailspin. The US embassy in Moscow cut consular services and staff numbers in 2021 after Moscow banned the foreign missions of “unfriendly states” from hiring Russian citizens.

At the time, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that it was already almost impossible for Russian citizens to obtain US visas before the new restrictions came into force. He also noted that Moscow’s move was primarily meant as a response to Washington’s “unfriendly actions,” apparently referring to US sanctions and diplomatic expulsions.