MOSCOW, March 22. /TASS/. The Russian Embassy to the UK said on Thursday the visa issuing procedures will now take longer following the expulsion of Russian diplomats amid tensions over the Skripal poisoning case.
"As a result of the irresponsible actions of the UK Government, which lead to an expulsion of 23 diplomats of the Russian Embassy, including a number of Consular Section staff, the consular service for applicants has been seriously affected," the embassy said in a report posted on its website.
"Given the circumstances, caused by the British side, the processing times for visa applicants will be increased: expedited processing time is up to three business days, and regular processing is up to twenty business days, consistent with the Russian law and in accordance with the current consular Tariff rates. As for the nationals of the countries that have visa agreements with Russia, processing times remain as outlined in those agreements," the embassy said.
Earlier on Thursday, Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko said it will now take twice as long to issue visas.
Ex-Colonel Sergey Skripal formerly from Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate convicted for spying for the United Kingdom, and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a nerve agent on March 4 and found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, UK. Both of them were hospitalized and are in critical condition.
British authorities blamed Russia for the poisoning, but failed to provide any evidence to support their accusations. Russia refuted all of London’s allegations. With that, UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats and the suspension of high-level bilateral contacts. In response to London’s moves, Russia has declared 23 British diplomats personae-non-gratae and will expel them, will close the British consulate general in St. Petersburg, and terminate the British Council’s activity in Russia.