United States of America
Answer by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova to media questions about the impossibility of obtaining an entry visa to the United States
It is regrettable that the US Embassy in Russia has almost completely stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens citing “shortage of personnel” and deflecting criticism to the Russian authorities, who have banned the hiring of local personnel as consular assistants.
Such explanations are devious and misleading, to put it mildly. Russian consular offices in the United States, stripped of personnel after the US Department of State refused to issue visas to our new employees to replace those who have completed their service and returned to Russia, nevertheless continue visa processing in full. The remaining staff have to process visa applications, in addition to their other consular responsibilities, including assistance to our fellow citizens in trouble.
If we take any other course of action, Russian-American people-to-people contacts will stop altogether. This much would seem obvious. Meanwhile, our colleagues in Washington appear to be guided by a different logic. This leads to unacceptable situations where, for example, Russian Olympic champion Maria Lasitskene had to miss the Diamond League competition in the United States because she could not obtain a visa.
Hundreds, if not thousands of our compatriots are now facing similar treatment, while the American diplomatic mission in Moscow advises them to contact US consular offices in third countries, even in acute humanitarian situations.
The question is, where is the proverbial American “open society” and why has it now become closed to Russians by Washington’s visa stockade?