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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –

Q: The coronavirus pandemic has created a new reality for the movement of people around the world. How did this affect the work of the Russian consular service? Did Russia have to make any adjustments to the activities of its consular offices abroad, in particular, to optimize their work, reduce people and funding? And when, in your opinion, will the world return to dockyard times in terms of free movement of people? In your opinion, is this a matter of politics or is it more of a business competition? Do you agree with the statement that covid is the reason for the emergence of a new “iron curtain” in the world?

Answer: Having affected almost all spheres of human life, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly not spared the work of the Russian consular service. To the usual tasks, the implementation of which is assigned to consular officials, new ones have been added, dictated by the requirements of the “covid” reality. Of course, it was especially difficult in the first months of the pandemic, when the export flight program started. Many of our consular officers literally lived at airports, providing all possible assistance to Russian citizens in returning to their homeland.

The work of Russian consular offices has not stopped over the past year and a half since the beginning of the pandemic. Depending on the sanitary and epidemic situation in a particular foreign state, some Russian missions abroad were forced to temporarily suspend consular reception. But as the situation stabilized, the usual mode of working with citizens resumed. At the same time, there was no talk of reducing the number of consular officers. On the contrary, they were all involved and continue to solve the assigned tasks.

It seems to be premature to make any predictions regarding the normalization of the sanitary and epidemic situation in the world. The dynamics of the restoration of habitual interpersonal contacts in the world will largely depend on the rate of adaptation of all mankind to post-pandemic realities, in particular, on the formation of stable population immunity. In any case, in our opinion, there is no need to talk about any “iron curtain” in this regard.

At the same time, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that by now the Government of the Russian Federation has resumed regular air traffic with 57 countries of the world, of which it has again become possible for foreigners to enter Russia.

As the epidemic situation in our country stabilizes, opportunities for Russians to enter certain foreign states also open up. For example, from August 15 of this year. Austria excluded Russia from the so-called. The “red list”: now the entry of Russians into Austria is allowed without restrictions, i.e. for any purpose, which, however, does not exclude the need to comply with the current sanitary protocol.

Question: What are the prospects for a dialogue between Russia and the EU on the mutual recognition of “covid passports”? Is Russia ready to relax the requirements for “covid passports”, if not, what exactly is hindering this? Is Russia ready to agree to some kind of softening for foreign businessmen who are ready to invest in the Russian economy?

Answer: Negotiations on the mutual recognition of certificates are being conducted through the Ministry of Health of Russia, comments on this matter should be requested from this Ministry.

As for the regime of entry to Russia for foreign investors in a pandemic, certain concessions for them are already provided for by the current legislation. They are not subject to temporary restrictions on the entry of foreigners into our country, established by the Government of the Russian Federation in order to counter the spread of the new coronavirus infection.

Foreign citizens-owners or heads of enterprises operating in the territory of the Russian Federation, as well as foreign citizens planning to participate in negotiations on the implementation of investment projects, can enter Russia in accordance with the algorithm approved by the Operational Headquarters to prevent the importation and spread of a new coronavirus infection in the territory of the Russian Federation.

Question: Is it true to believe that after the meeting between Vladimir Putin and J. Biden, it was at least partially possible to resolve the consular issues that arose between Moscow and Washington as regards the restoration of the number of diplomatic missions, the diplomatic property of the Russian Federation in the United States, etc. etc.? Is there such a dialogue now, at what level, how do you assess its success?

Answer: One of the positive results of the Russian-American summit in Geneva was the decision to return ambassadors to the accreditation capitals to implement the agreements reached by the presidents of the two countries, including on the normalization of the activities of the diplomatic missions of Russia and the United States. This is indeed difficult and large-scale work, given the accumulated bilateral irritants between Moscow and Washington. First of all, we are talking about our diplomatic property illegally confiscated by the American authorities, visa problems, a three-year restriction imposed by the State Department on stay in the United States for employees sent to the Embassy and consular offices of Russia.

It would be premature to expect quick results after the summit, let alone any significant breakthroughs, given the current deplorable state of affairs in Russian-American relations, primarily through the fault of the United States. Washington must take real steps forward to clear the accumulated rubble.

At the moment, the issue of illegally seized Russian diplomatic property in the United States is especially acute for us. Such actions of the American side are akin to a “raider takeover”. In addition to flagrant violation of the provisions of the Vienna Convention, denying us the ability to use and dispose of our property is contrary to US domestic law guaranteeing the right to private property.

Moreover, the Department of State constantly denies us even access to six of our properties to check their condition (requests have been sent regularly since January 2017). The return of this property is a matter of principle, without its settlement it is impossible to talk about the restoration of a full-fledged bilateral dialogue.

We also continue to experience serious difficulties in filling established posts in Russian overseas missions in the United States. More than 60 employees (together with family members of more than 150 people) of our Embassy and Russian Consulates General are awaiting the extension of American visas, unable to leave for their homeland even on urgent humanitarian issues. The passports of some of them are on the so-called. administrative audit for over a year. Due to the introduction of a three-year restriction on the stay of our staff, 24 employees will have to complete their business trips by September 3 of this year. and leave the country. At the same time, the Americans are in no hurry to issue entry permits to their replacements.

For their part, they have repeatedly called on their American colleagues to “nullify” all mutual claims, but Washington, apparently, is not happy with this option. They continue to stubbornly demand unilateral concessions from us, ignoring Russian concerns. I would like to stress once again that we are ready to work together, but only on the basis of respect and consideration of each other’s interests.

Question: Many citizens of foreign countries complain about the difficulty of obtaining a Russian visa. How much has the issuance of Russian visas to foreign citizens decreased since the pandemic? Does Russia plan to facilitate the procedure for obtaining Russian visas, if so, with which countries?

Answer: I do not agree that the regime of entry of foreign citizens into the Russian Federation is “so terrible”. Moreover, the work on the liberalization of the visa regime is being carried out by the Russian Foreign Ministry on a permanent basis. Recently, at least three legislative initiatives have been implemented aimed at simplifying the receipt of a Russian visa.

This is a unified electronic visa, which citizens of 52 foreign countries can apply for without leaving their own homes. According to the algorithm laid down in the law, a foreigner will receive it no later than 4 calendar days from the date of submission of an application on a specialized website or in a mobile application and will be able to use such a visa to travel to Russia within the next 60 days without the need to provide any invitations, hotel reservations, and other documents confirming the purpose of the trip. The duration of the trip itself should not exceed 16 days.

Another innovation is the increase in the validity period of tourist visas from 1 to 6 months and the possibility of their issuance based on confirmation of hotel reservation. The corresponding legislative amendments come into force on August 25 this year.

Finally, as another innovation in the visa field, we can note the possibility of issuing, starting from September 1 of this year, close relatives of Russian citizens (spouses, parents (adoptive parents), children (adopted), spouses of children, full and half brothers and sisters). , grandfathers, grandmothers, grandchildren) multiple-entry private visas for a period of up to 1 year with an allowed period of stay in the Russian Federation during the entire period of validity of visas on the basis of relevant written applications of Russian citizens without the need to issue invitations to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia.

If the issuance of an electronic visa is temporarily suspended (until the restrictions on the entry of foreign citizens into the Russian Federation previously established by the Government of the Russian Federation on the basis of the order of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 635-r dated March 16, 2020), then the issuance of multiple-entry tourist visas and annual private visas for close relatives will be possible in September this year. in those countries with which regular flights have been resumed.

Question: Is Russia negotiating with the United States regarding the exchange of prisoners, in particular, V.A. Bout and K.V. Yaroshenko for P. Whelan and T. Reed? Is Russia ready for such an exchange, and if so, under what conditions? If negotiations are underway, how effective are they? How many Russian citizens are imprisoned in the United States in general?

Answer: We are closely monitoring the situation with Russian citizens imprisoned in the United States. I am referring not only to the names you have named V.A.Buta and K.V. Yaroshenko. According to our calculations, more than 1,000 Russians with various procedural status are currently in American prisons. I cannot fail to note that the American authorities adhere to a harsh and discriminatory approach towards Russian citizens who have ended up in US prisons. In addition, the state of affairs with medical care in American penitentiary institutions and their ability to adequately provide our compatriots with everything they need is a matter of serious concern.

We are trying in every possible way to support Russian citizens who have fallen under the flywheel of the American judicial system. We constantly draw the attention of the US Department of State and law enforcement agencies to the need for strict observance of all their legal rights and freedoms.

In the context of efforts to return Russian citizens to their homeland, the Americans were repeatedly invited to consider the possibility of using the procedure of the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. Moreover, last year Sergey Lavrov sent an oral message to the US Secretary of State with a request to release the Russians, including Vladimir Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, for humanitarian reasons in view of the difficult situation with COVID-19 in the United States. … However, all our efforts so far have not been crowned with success.

Unfortunately, such an unconstructive position of the American authorities does not give grounds to expect any positive progress in deciding the fate of Russian citizens serving imprisonment in the United States and in finding positive solutions on the basis of reciprocity with regard to the Americans in our correctional facilities.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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