Letter:The horrors of getting a visa in Moscow

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The Independent Online
Sir: Further to the article "Russian fans cry foul at visa chaos" (12 June) and the letter "UK snubs Russians" (15 June), my daughter, who is teaching in Moscow for part of her gap year before going to university, has had recent experience of trying to obtain a visa for a Russian friend.

She writes: "At 7am tomorrow I am meeting Marsha at the embassy to try and get to the front of the queue for British visas, which stretches round the block. It opens at 9am. The visa section is horrible - just queues of desperate people, and the odd board stuck to the front of the building with glittering photos of the interior of Buckingham Palace (as if we all live like that), Big Ben and the Thames at sunset, etc."

Later in the same letter she writes: "Monday afternoon. Over 100 people were already there. They let in six people every three-quarters of an hour. In the end I jumped over the barricade with Marsha following and forced my way in with the aid of my passport and angry words. Many people had been queueing since Friday evening, and so there was a lot of shouting, particularly as no one paid attention to who had got there first.

"Once inside we had to queue for ages to fill in forms, then found out that we didn't have enough roubles to pay for the visa application (regardless of whether you get one or not). Luckily, I found an English woman who gave us the money in exchange for my cheque. Then we had to wait again to be interviewed. By this time it was 12.30.

"Eventually we were called up. The interviewer (English) was incredibly rude to us, ignored me, and just said `Your mother lives in England. I'll have to send you for a more detailed interview on Thursday afternoon.' "

My recent visa to Russia cost pounds 10 and was arranged by post. I understand the charge made for a visa at the British embassy in Moscow is the equivalent of pounds 30.

ANTHONY FURNESS

London N8

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