Russian Federation says United States visa delays could halt direct flights

Alexandr Sherbak  TASS

Alexandr Sherbak TASS

"Today, the influential forces of the United States, concerned about how to put pressure on Russian Federation, will not stop", the ministry added.

Kremlin is concerned about difficulties related to the issuance of United States entry visas to Russian pilots, believes Washington intentionally creates such obstacles, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.

"The US has relocated the whole staff of its former Consulate General in St Petersburg to Moscow and that's why they shouldn't have any obstacles in the issuance of visas", he said, adding that Russia closed down the consulate in St Petersburg in response to the closure of the Russian Consulate General in Seattle.

Smirnova and another Bolshoi dancer, Jacopi Tissi, were due to perform at the Lincoln Center in NY on Monday, but were refused a work visa by the U.S. Department of Immigration, the Ria Novosti news agency said. However, the US Department of Immigration denied visas for both. "We do not want events to unfold in such a way", TASS cited him as saying.

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Linda K. Morse, chair of Youth America Grand Prix which is hosting the gala where the Russian ballet dancers were due to perform, told the New York Post-affiliated Page Six website that she can't understand the motivation of the U.S. authorities. "In other words, it's senseless to apply for a visa", it said.

"Since the work visa was also not issued on time for Jacopo Tissi, an Italian national, we would like to think that this was related to procedural formalities and not to the current political tensions", its press office said in emailed comments.

They followed the poisoning in Britain of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, as well as accusations of Russian interference in last year's USA election.

Russian agencies this week reported that Olga Smirnova, a prime ballerina at the Bolshoi, had been refused a USA visa, weeks after a round of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions led to a reduction in embassy staff members.

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