LETTER TO THE EDITOR
REFUTATION FOR THE ARTICLE “VISA POWER” PUBLISHED BY THE ‘FINANCIAL EXPRESS’ NEWSPAPER ON AUGUST 2, 2015
New Delhi, August 4, 2015
The Embassy was rather disappointed by the article “Visa Power” published by The Financial Express on August 2, 2015. False allegations regarding Russian visa rules were least expected to come across on the pages of the respected newspaper. Misinformation savouring of slander points to lack of professionalism of the anonymous author who, it seems, was determined to shove a pulp of baseless statements to the editor rather than to comprehend the situation. An author with no name can hardly taint his reputation, but the same taint soils a newspaper’s title beyond repair. A word once spoken is past recalling.
Turning to what seems to be unpopular area of journalism material – actual facts – Russia like few other countries grants Indian citizens visas on the basis of three documents: the passport, the application form and the invitation. Oddly enough, the online visa application form contains only 21 questions and asks neither for the history of travel, nor for the particulars of the applicant’s ancestors that some governments find intriguing enough to inquire. The applicant is not expected to scan and upload his passport or photograph. The invitation in most cases is just a letter from the receiving Russian party to come by fax, email or brought by hand in accordance with the Russian-Indian Bilateral Agreement on simplifying of visa procedures, 2010 (easily found online by anyone worthy to be called a journalist).
The cost of the visa and the processing time is defined by the principle of reciprocity. Russian visa can be applied well in advance, a year ahead of the planned journey, should one find it desirable. An urgent visa is issued on the same day upon filing of the necessary documents.
Taking into consideration the travelers’ convenience four Russian Visa Centres opened last year in India eliminating with their extended business hours and multi stall system the tiresome waiting at the overworked consular sections. The applications are now accepted in the business hearts of New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. As a result, the number of Russian visas granted to Indian citizens in 2015 has risen 60% as compared with the corresponding period last year.
To feel the difference, our anonymous “admirer” instead of letting grass grow under her/his feet, should drop in Chanakyapuri diplomatic enclave anytime between 6 and 11 a.m. on a week day to see with one’s own eyes which embassies keep the applicants dump in the rain and toast in sun.
Unlike some countries infamous for harassing travelers for minor visa violations with morally and financially exhausting “exit permit” procedures, Russian deportation rules allow to separate the husk from the grain. The few malicious infringers and the mass of victims of unfortunate circumstances are approached differently allowing the latter to seamlessly return home. In repeated severe violation cases the consequences entail a financial penalty and inevitably a swift deportation.
Russia and India enjoy Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership and historically share the Atithidevo Bhava attitude towards each other, hence, misinformation, if not a sabotage, is absolutely unacceptable in the two countries’ relations.