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Archive for North America

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: 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/

Newsline: Thai consulate in Los Angeles warns of protests over failure to retrieve students’ bodies

US authorities could face protests if they do not expedite the retrieval of the bodies of two Thai postgraduate students believed to have died in a car crash almost two weeks ago in California, the Thai Consulate in Los Angeles has said. Protests are planned in Fresno county, the scene of the accident, and Los Angeles, as frustration mounts with the slow progress of the operation. The consulate said on Facebook that protests would proceed if the rescue and recovery operation were not launched. Thiwadee Saengsuriyarit, 24, and Bhakapon Chairattanasongporn, 28, were driving on a highway on July 26 to Kings Canyon National Park when their rental car plunged off a 150-metre cliff and came to rest partially submerged in a river. Fresno county officials have been blaming bad weather, strong currents and high water from melting snow for the slow pace of the operation. Hopes that the pair survived the accident were dashed when Consulate General Tanee Sangrat said this week that the bodies of the students had been found in the car. In Bangkok, Ekkachai Taidecha, uncle of Bhakapon, applied yesterday for entry visas for a Thai rescue team, saying Thais should take over if US authorities continued to fail to act. “If this accident happened in Thailand, Thai rescuers would be able to get the bodies within 12 hours, no matter how bad the weather was. They would not have to use a helicopter,” he said. In response to Ekkachai’s symbolic protest, the US Embassy issued a statement. “We are closely following the situation and express our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the two Thai students involved in this tragic accident in California.”

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30323468

Newsline: Russia may be forced to shut down consulate in retaliation for slashing US diplomatic staff

Russia may be forced to close one of four consulates in the U.S. as part of an ongoing diplomatic tit-for-tat between the two countries, sources said. The U.S. State Department will announce whether Russia will have to close one of the consulate generals in New York, Houston, San Francisco, or Seattle, by September 1, according to sources cited by the Russian newspaper Kommersant. Congress imposed sanctions on Russia — which Trump begrudgingly signed off on — because of the Kremlin’s interference in the U.S. presidential elections last year. The backlash was swift, and Russia seized two American diplomatic properties in Russia in late July.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/russia-forced-shut-consulate-article-1.3402184