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French Consulate in Moscow employees fired for visa violations

PARIS, August 16 (RIA Novosti) - The French Foreign Ministry confirmed Wednesday that three staffers at the French Consulate in Moscow have been fired, and four more have resigned, for violating visa issuance procedures.

Earlier, Russian and French media reported that some employees at the consulate took bribes to speed up visa deliveries. The reports said the employees asked for 10 to 20 times the normal 35-euro fee.

"The issue is not about the outright sale of visas," said Denis Simonneau, a French Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman, "but about improprieties when considering certain dossiers, which in some cases resulted in bribery."

The Foreign Ministry said that France led the countries of the Shengen zone in issuing visas. In 2005, it granted 272,000, or 10% more than in 2004, and double the number in 2000.

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