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Things to expect when applying for a Russian visa as a Journalist

48978644.jpgBags can be packed and flights booked within minutes of a big story breaking.

But no-one scrambles frantically to Russia.

It took four months and 300 emails to get Lisa Millar and David Sciasci out the door to Moscow.

Hours had been spent previously on visa applications that were ultimately rejected for reasons that either did not add up or were never disclosed.

There was a suggestion the colour of the ABC’s company stamp had not met government expectations.

There was also a complaint of a discrepancy between two signatures — from the same person.

But volatile global politics dictated it was time to try again.

At first glance the process seems straightforward enough.

We were in touch with a visa agent in Moscow who gave us an expected timeframe and a list of administrative requirements.

The first hurdle would be the biggest — receiving a formal invitation, or telex, from the Russian Government.

At this point, the ABC needed to convince the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

We had been warned media organisations without a presence in Russia were viewed with suspicion.

We don’t divide journalists into good, bad’

Last month, MFA spokeswoman Maria Zakharova vehemently denied an accusation from the Reuters news agency some of its journalists were being blocked from entering the country.

“We do not divide journalists into good and bad,” she said.

“We don’t deny visas or accreditation for publishing information we regard as biased.”

 This press pass (now expired) took four months and 300 emails to be issued to Lisa Millar. (ABC News: Lisa Millar)

This press pass (now expired) took four months and 300 emails to be issued to Lisa Millar.
(ABC News: Lisa Millar)

Even so, the ABC was asked to provide details of every story we would film in Russia, where we would film it and who we would interview.

We also had to provide the name of the hotel where we would be staying.

We were surprised, but mostly relieved, when the telex was granted.

The next stage involved a lengthy online application form and several letters which needed to be translated into Russian, signed, stamped and submitted to the Russian Visa Centre in London for the MFA’s approval.

Within days Lisa and Dave had their 30-day visas — the maximum time allowed.

But they came with a warning — do not film a single frame before checking in with the Foreign Ministry in Moscow to pick up press accreditation cards.

Finally, we could book flights and let our contacts in Russia know, “We’re really coming”.

No-one could quite believe it.

Source: ABC


About Ayotunde Aboderin

A professional blogger, an online Journalist and a passionate Immigration and visa Affairs individual.


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