Russia has riposted to the USA's new visa regime for Russian citizens The USA has toughened the visa regime in January. The Russian Foreign Ministry has responded only in May. As "GAZETA" has learned, since May 8 every American citizen aged from 18 through 45 seeking to get the Russian visa must fill in a new questionnaire, which comprise 18 questions like the American form DS-157. The Russian form 95 is a symmetrical response to America.
The Russian consulate in Washington informed Gazeta that "In January 2002 the consulate of the USA has complicated the procedure of visa granting to Russian citizens. Now we have received a letter from Moscow, which states that every man having the American citizenship must additionally fill in a new form. We have already informed all applicants". It is interesting that during his speech in Stanford University on May 6 the Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has criticized the toughening of visa regulation by the USA, and said, "It would be a wrong decision to take reciprocal measures". But from May 8 it became obligatory to fill in the appendix to visa questionnaire for Americans who have applied for to Russian Embassies in the USA and Great Britain. This week the new order will come into force in all Russian embassies and consulates. The new visa form contains almost the same questions as the US form DS-157 except for such exotic requests as "The name of the clan or tribe you belong to". The Americans must name all countries they have visited during last 10 years, and indicate the current and the previous citizenship. Besides this, it is necessary to indicate the last two places of work, the name and address of the employer, the post held, and the name and telephone number of the boss. The applicant must also name all charity, public and professional organizations he has been ever a member of. The questionnaire includes also the detailed questions about the experience of work with guns and explosives, as well as the work in nuclear, biological, and chemical areas. It is necessary to mention about participation in military operations. Besides the American citizen is required to write a detailed plan of trip to Russia including the dates of arrival and departure, the numbers of flights and air tickets, the points of accommodation with addresses and telephone numbers. The Russian questionnaire has also two original questions: has the applicant ever been refused a Russian visa, and has it ever been canceled?" The representatives of travel industry think that this innovation together with the already existing requirements for visa paperwork, and the obviously high fees, will significantly reduce the number of foreign guests. Moreover, not only tourists but also businessmen will suffer. The representatives of Andrew's Travel House told Gazeta "If the questionnaire is not treated as a formality, a lot of time will be needed to fill it out. The majority of businessmen get the multiple visa for a year, and it will be difficult for them to give a detailed answer to the question about their plans for the visit." The additional problem is that, according to the Russian legislation, a company inviting a foreign citizen must have an accreditation in the Foreign Ministry, and the branch offices of foreign companies in Russia are not authorized to invite its employees from abroad. Therefore they use the services of other companies who are allowed to invite the specialists on their behalf. So if the Russian Foreign Ministry is really going to check where Americans are going to travel in Russia, there will be hard to get visas.REFERENCE