Russia’s ambassador to the UK has claimed the country is deliberately delaying visas for employees at its London Embassy, leaving it short-staffed.
Alexander Yakovenko also said that Russian visitors to the UK were facing “political and psychological pressure”, with some being held for hours when they arrived at Heathrow airport. He said that the UK is now treating Russia like the Islamic State terror organisation.
Mr Yakovenko made his claims in a Russian newspaper. He said that it was taking up to six months to issue new diplomatic visas, counter to an agreement in 1989 which states all visa applications between the two countries should be approved or rejected within a month.
The Russian Embassy also issued a statement in which it claimed the UK was not abiding by the 1961 Vienna Convention because it was only issuing visas to Russian diplomats for up to five years.
The Embassy said: “Essentially, the restrictions on the term of employment with the Russian embassy in London and the Russian consulate general in Edinburgh, which are being imposed on us by the British side, are the equivalent to their declaration as persona non-grata.”
British officials told The Financial Times that there has not been a change of policy towards Russia. They said there were issues with applications in cases where there had been delays, but refused to discuss individual cases.
The Home Office said: “Border Force officers must ensure passengers, where necessary, have the appropriate visa and supporting documents to enter the UK. They also confirm the conditions of the visa continue to be met and there has been no change in circumstances. This includes making sure false representations were not used to obtain the visa, and no facts were withheld.”