Russian Ambassador criticises UK Govt over visas

24 Oct 2016 | Posted by Carl Thomas

 The British Government is coming under fire from the Russian Ambassador to the UK over its policy for issuing UK visas.

Alexander Yakovenko claimed that the Government was delaying granting UK visas to staff at the Russian Embassy in London and he said that as a result, the embassy was shrinking. Mr Yakovenko said he wondered whether the Government wanted “an adequate diplomatic presence” in the embassy.
He told the BBC: “The embassy is shrinking and if it continues the embassy will be reduced further. People cannot be replaced because the visas are not being issued.
"I hope this problem will be resolved under [the] present Government. Here in London, we simply do not understand the strategy of this country on visa issues.”
The Ambassador reported problems with the number of staff in the embassy, because he claimed that UK visas were not being issued to replace people who went on holiday or returned home to Russia.
The Foreign Office denied that issuing of UK visas to Russian Embassy staff has been implemented as a policy.
A spokesman said: "We have made clear to the Russians that the queues need to be cleared on both sides, and they have agreed work with us on this.
"We regularly discuss the visa exchange process with the Russians at official level and this requires both the UK and Russia to work together to ensure the effective operation of our respective embassies."
It comes as relationships between the UK and Russia have been stretched over issues including Syria and Ukraine.
Both Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have publicly criticised Russia for its involvement in bombing the Syrian city of Aleppo. Mr Johnson has called for demonstrations outside the Russian Embassy because of it.