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Russian Foreign Ministry comments on difficulties with UK visas

May 23, 19:48 UTC+3 MOSCOW

A Russian diplomat says difficulties with entry visas are used by London to increase pressure on Moscow

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MOSCOW, May 23. /TASS/. Difficulties with entry visas, which average Russian citizens are facing, are politically motivated and used by London to increase pressure on Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters on Wednesday.

"There have always been problems with UK visas. For instance, average culture figures have been facing visa difficulties in the UK for many years. It has been a large-scale problem. Now it is evident that unfortunately, London views the sphere of visas and attitude to the mass media as a tool of political pressure on the state and people living there," the diplomat said.

She pointed out that consular staff at the UK embassy "stopped bothering themselves with any eligible explanations" about refusals and continuing complications in visa processing.

According to Zakharova, London’s steps run counter to the UK’s human rights commitments, which are against obstacles in the way of citizens’ contacts and movements. Moreover, if they are honest and law-abiding people.

"The United Kingdom takes weird steps when, on the one hand, refusing a visa for an ordinary school teacher of the English language who has decided to go sightseeing around the capital of Great Britain, but on the other hand, when granting a visa and providing any forms of protection to a person who apparently has ties with the criminal world, terrorism and so on," Zakharova continued.

"Look, how many criminals - and among them are those accused of corruption - have settled in the UK and nobody has ever felt confused. Russia has been seeking their extradition for many years, but the UK would never do it."

"These days, new high-profile cases are surfacing in the context of parliamentary reports, which are somehow related to a new campaign ‘for clean money’ flowing into the UK," she went on to say. "But it is ridiculous. What ‘clean money’ can be in question if the UK has been pursuing the policy spanning many centuries to attract funds regardless of their origin?"

She recalled as an example how fugitive oligarch "Boris Berezovsky and his team used to stay in the United Kingdom and lived there without hushing up their riches and capabilities. Nobody asked them questions about the origin of their wealth."

"People surrounding Berezovsky could not be called law-abiding and nobody doubted that their enormous capitals had been acquired unscrupulously. It was evident for everyone," she said. "In addition, nobody felt ashamed of the origin of the money the UK sheltered during the Chechen crisis and which had been related to terrorist elements in the North Caucasus.".

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