MOSCOW, March 5. /TASS/. The United Kingdom is exerting psychological pressure on the Russian Embassy by failing to extend visas for diplomats for the period necessary for customary work, Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko told the NTV channel on Tuesday.
"Britain refuses to issue visas to new employees. Some of them wait for visas to be issued for a year, or a year and a half, and eventually do not get them. Thus, a policy of hindering the restoration of the embassy’s work is being pursued," the diplomat explained.
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According to Yakovenko, Britain is thus trying to dictate who should work in the Russian embassy. He cited the following example. A visa is extended for three months only, while the passport to issue it is held for about two and a half months. As a result, a person is actually left without basic papers and cannot travel anywhere - either to Russia or to other countries. "There is certain pressure on the embassy’s diplomatic staff, you know," the ambassador stressed.
Reports said last December that Moscow and London had issued a number of visas to future diplomatic missions’ employees for the first time since the Salisbury incident. Yakovenko suggested at that time that the number of the Russian diplomatic staff would be restored at least by 50%. That being said, a British diplomat said there were no agreements on restoring the staff of diplomatic missions between the two countries.
According to London’s version, former Russian military intelligence Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and was later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia were exposed to a nerve agent in Salisbury, the UK, on March 4, 2018.
Britain immediately accused Russia of being involved and expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the UK without furnishing any evidence. Russia has flatly rejected these allegations, expelling the same number of British Embassy employees in response.