17:28 GMT +3 hours23 November 2014
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Moscow queries U.S. on visa denial to two renowned Russians

Russia
(updated 18:26 28.10.2014)
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday he has asked the United States to explain why it has been denying visas to two prominent Russian nationals.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday he has asked the United States to explain why it has been denying visas to two prominent Russian nationals.

The two Russians in question are metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska and crooner-cum-lawmaker Joseph Kobzon.

"The U.S. side has yet to make it clear to us why he [Deripaska] and Kobzon have been denied a visa," Lavrov said, adding that his open letter was posted on the Internet.

He did not say when he sent it or when U.S. authorities denied them a visa the last time.

The issue has been repeatedly raised by Russia's top leadership, he said.

In an interview with French Le Monde in May 2008, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the United States had to offer an explanation why it had refused to issue a visa to Basic Element CEO Oleg Deripaska, or go ahead and issue it.

Lavrov is also known to have personally intervened on Deripaska's behalf, but to no avail.

The United States has barred Deripaska since 1998 and Kobzon since 1995 (although making a one-off exception) without citing any formal grounds.

MOSCOW, November 9 (RIA Novosti)