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Russian Embassy in US Workload Increased 1.5 Times After Consulate Closures

© AP Photo / J. Scott ApplewhiteA portion of Russian Embassy complex in in Washington. File photo
A portion of Russian Embassy complex in in Washington. File photo - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The volume of processed visa and passport cases increased 1.5 times after the closure of other Russian Consulates in the United States, a Russian Embassy official told Sputnik.

"The volume of processed documents on visa and passport matters increased 1.5 times," the official said. The official added that the volume of cases rose by a third on citizenship matters and by quarter on notarial issues.

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The United States did not try to impede in the Russian Embassy's out-of-office work on the West Coast following the closure of the Consulate General in San Francisco, an embassy official said.

"There were no cases of obstruction of the Russian Embassy's out-of-office work by the US authorities," the official said on Tuesday.

The embassy has to conduct sessions in the West Coast because there have been no official consular services in the region for Russian citizens for a year.

The official noted the embassy is required to notify the US Department of state about the mission of Russian diplomats. He said the representatives of the Russian Embassy encounter certain issues during pre-flight inspections at airports, but the problems can be usually resolved.

"In the future, we plan to hold traveling consular sessions at least once a quarter," the official said on Tuesday.

The next visit to the West Coast is set for October, the official added. The official also said information on the date, time and place of the event will be posted in advance on the Embassy's website in the section Consular Departures and via social networks.

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In June, the embassy made its first out-of-office session for Russian nationals residing in San Francisco and Los Angeles. During the seven-day visit, Russian consuls used two mobile systems to process applications for new passports which are valid for ten years.

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Four diplomats accepted nearly 500 passport applications, issued 200 pension documents, and provided consultations a variety of consular services as the result of the June event, the official said.

A row between the United States and Russia over diplomatic property erupted in December 2016, when outgoing US President Barack Obama closed Russian diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland and expelled 35 Russian diplomats.

In 2017, the new administration under President Donald Trump shut down the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco, and trade missions in New York City and Washington, DC in response to Moscow's decision to reduce the number of US diplomatic staff in Russia.

In March, the United States closed the Russian Consulate in Seattle over allegations of Moscow's involvement in the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom, though the Kremlin firmly denied any involvement.

Moscow has said that the actions of the United States constituted a violation of international law, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations.

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