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Newsline: Russian State Media Invented ‘Huge’ Lines Outside the US Embassy

One day before the U.S diplomatic mission to Russia is due to stop processing non-immigrant visas, Russian state media reported long queues outside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow — even as the situation on the ground told a different story. The state-run RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday reported that “a long line of people who came for interviews or to pick up their visas” had formed in front of the U.S. Embassy on Novinsky Bulvar. Other Russian media, including the Metro and Life.ru outlets, also claimed long queues had formed in front of the American diplomatic mission, with the state-run Vesti.ru describing the crowd size as “gigantic.” The RIA article was shared on social media with a picture of crowds standing outside the embassy, but the picture was quickly outed on social media as being taken at a vigil in July in honor of Linkin Park singer, Chester Bennington. RIA later deleted the tweet. A RBC journalist said there were about seven people waiting outside the consular section and around 10 journalists early on Tuesday morning. A Moscow Times reporter at Novinsky Bulvar on Tuesday morning between 11:15 a.m. 12:45 p.m. said the area around the embassy was quiet except for other journalists and television crews, with roughly ten people coming out of the consular section during an hour-long period. The U.S. Embassy in Russia on Monday announced it planned to temporarily suspend processing all non-immigrant visa applications for Russian citizens beginning Aug 23. The announcement said operations in Moscow would resume in September, with consular services for Russians in St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg remaining “suspended indefinitely.”

https://themoscowtimes.com/news/russian-media-report-huge-lines-outside-embassy-58722

Newsline: US Embassy in Russia stops issuing tourist visas for 8 days

In a step that could affect hundreds of thousands of Russian tourists, the U.S. Embassy in Russia said it would suspend issuing nonimmigrant visas for eight days from Wednesday in response to the Russian decision to cap embassy staff. The embassy made the decision after the Russian Foreign Ministry ordered a cap on the number of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia, it said in a statement, adding that it would resume issuing visas in Moscow on Sept. 1, but maintain the suspension at consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok indefinitely. Nearly a quarter of a million Russian tourists visited the U.S. last year, according to Russian tourism officials. Earlier this month, Russia ordered the U.S. to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755, or two-thirds. Moscow’s move was a long-expected response to former U.S. President Barack Obama’s move to expel 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian recreational retreats in the United States following allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. vote. The vast majority of the more than 1,000 employees at the various U.S. diplomatic missions in Russia, including the embassy in Moscow and the three consulates, are believed to be Russian nationals. The U.S. embassy said Monday that Russia’s decision to cut its staff “calls into question Russia’s seriousness about pursuing better relations.” However, it insisted that it would be able to maintain adequate staffing “to carry out essential elements of our mission.”The U.S. State Department said the decision to suspend visas was not retaliation for Russia’s capping of U.S. diplomatic personnel, noting that having fewer personnel inevitably results in a reduction in the services they can provide.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/us-embassy-in-russia-suspends-issuing-nonimmigrant-visas/2017/08/21/e2ebbbb2-8653-11e7-96a7-d178cf3524eb_story.html?utm_term=.7b6317bdd7df

Newsline: Putin Names Longtime Diplomat Antonov As Ambassador To U.S.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed Anatoly Antonov, a veteran diplomat who has served in both the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry, as ambassador to the United States. The appointment was announced on the Kremlin website on August 21. Antonov, 62, has been a staunch public advocate of Russia’s assertive foreign policy in recent years and is seen as a tough negotiator on issues including arms control. A longtime Foreign Ministry official, he had been a deputy foreign minister since December 2016, having moved back after nearly six years as a deputy defense minister. Antonov replaces Sergei Kislyak, who had been Russia’s ambassador to Washington since 2008. The Kremlin announcement of Antonov’s appointment, which had been widely reported to be imminent in recent weeks, came shortly after the U.S. Embassy said that nonimmigrant visa processing would be suspended at the embassy and consulates in Russia as of August 23 — the latest development in a series of disputes that have severely strained U.S.-Russian ties since Putin returned to the presidency for a third term in 2012.

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-antonov-new-ambassador-united-states-kislyak/28688485.html

Newsline: Mexican diplomat accused of sex crime in South Korea

A Seoul-based Mexican diplomat accused of sexually assaulting a local employee is currently in Seoul and plans to cooperate with the local police agency’s investigation, the Mexican Embassy in South Korea said Monday. A prior police probe indicated that the military attache sexually harassed a female employee at the Mexican Embassy on three occasions between June last year and January. He previously defied two police orders to show up for questioning and returned to his country. “The Embassy of Mexico in the Republic of Korea has been informed of the complaint filed against a member of its Military Attache Office for alleged harassment towards an employee of that office,” the embassy said in a brief press release. “The involved officer is in Korea with the willingness to cooperate with the local authorities towards the resolution of the case,” it said. “Mexican authorities will monitor the situation closely in coordination with their Korean counterparts.”

http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170821000784

Newsline: Mexico’s top diplomat visits Cuba to seek help on Venezuela crisis

Mexico’s foreign minister is in Havana hoping to persuade Cuba, one of Venezuela’s top allies, to help resolve the tense political situation in the beleaguered South American nation, according to a senior Mexican official briefed about the trip. The minister, Luis Videgaray, has not gone empty-handed, according to the official and a document seen by Reuters, and has agreed with Havana’s request to expand a credit line with Mexico’s state-owned Bancomext bank from 30 million to 56 million euros as a gesture of goodwill. Cuba uses the credit line to pay for key imports. “The foreign minister is going to say, ‘We want to solve the situation in Venezuela. How do we do that?'” the official said. “He’s going to see what the Cubans’ view is, and how we can soften or manage the transition in Venezuela and its impact on Cuba.” Mexico may struggle to convince Cuba to join its effort. Venezuela is Cuba’s closest strategic and ideological ally, and has showered the island with billions of dollars of cheap oil and aid since the turn of the century. Mexico, on the other hand, has flip-flopped in its relationship with Cuba, with former President Vicente Fox famously snubbing Fidel Castro at a summit, a move that pleased the United States but damaged Mexico’s regional influence. Cuba has been loathe to support regional, U.S.-backed efforts to pressure the government of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro into restoring democratic order after months of deadly protests. Still, Mexico, which has ditched years of isolationist foreign policies to lead Latin American diplomatic efforts to pressure Caracas, believes there won’t be a peaceful transition in Venezuela without Cuba’s help, the official said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-mexico-venezuela-exclusive-idUSKCN1AY270

Newsline: New York City increases security at Spanish consulate after Barcelona attack

The NYPD’s counter-terrorism unit is increasing security at locations in the city that are affiliated with Spain after a terror attack in Barcelona left at least 12 people dead and wounded at least 80. Spanish officials said a van plowed into pedestrians in the city Thursday in the historic district of Las Ramblas. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the van attack around 3:40 p.m. NYC time. NYPD Chief of Counterterrorism James Waters said the unit has placed officers at the Spanish consulate and other locations affiliated with Spain.

http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2017/08/17/barcelona-van-attack-nyc-response.html

Newsline: Three Employees of US Embassy Detained in Yemen

The Yemeni security services officers, controlled by the Houthi rebel movement, detained and took to an unknown place three employees of the US Embassy in Sanaa, without bringing any charges against them, a source in the services told Sputnik. Earlier in the day, local media reported that the militias had detained 12 employees of the United Nations and staff members of the US Embassy in Sanaa. “Yemeni militias detained three employees of the US embassy separately and took them to an unknown place,” the source said. According to him, the charges have not yet been brought against the detainees. The incident has not been announced officially. A source in the local United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) denied reports of the detention of its employees. “This news is not true,” the source said.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201708171056538799-yemen-us-embassy/