MOSCOW, August 4. /TASS/. The United Kingdom blocks rotation at the Russian diplomatic mission, delaying visa issuance for Russian diplomats, since visa processing times take on average between 12 to 18 months, Russia’s Ambassador to London Alexander Yakovenko said in a televised interview with the Rossiya-24 channel on Saturday.
"Diplomats cannot obtain British visas as an average waiting period is from one year to a year and a half. It is utterly abnormal since no other country does so. The British government merely blocks the renewal of staff at the diplomatic mission," he said.
Yakovenko pointed out that "the point is that actually the mission is being suffocated because people are being expelled while some just end their tenure in a natural way."
"They cannot work here [in the UK] forever, but those people cannot be replaced. For example, an employee, who was heading the press office, has left without any replacement," the Russian ambassador said.
"It is an intentional policy carried out by the current British government," Yakovenko said.
On March 4, Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia for spying for the UK but later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious on a bench near the Maltings shopping center in Salisbury, England. Police said they suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent.
Later on, London claimed that the Novichok-class toxin had been allegedly developed in Russia. The UK rushed to accuse Russia of being involved, while failing to furnish any evidence. Moscow refuted the accusations stating that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia had ever done research on that toxic chemical. In April, Chief Executive of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down Gary Aitkenhead said that British experts had been unable to identify the origin of the nerve agent used to attack Skripal and his daughter.