Making a Russian Embassy Appointment
No matter what you do, or how you do it, you will soon come to the conclusion that you cannot make an appointment at your local Russian Embassy or Consulate. You might try phoning, e-mailing, even sending smoke signals, but you’re not going to get through. Ever.
So, after completing my online form (in Russian for any Russian citizens applying for a renewed passport, etc., or in your local language for requesting a tourist visa), the button to click for an appointment stated that my “action was not supported”. That’s the Russian way of saying, “No way, Jose.”
Naturally, I knew that I must go in person or languish forever in this bureaucratic fog. My earlier blog post from a couple of weeks ago detailed that eventful trip, talking my way past multiple gates, closed-circuit cameras and the Russian security officer, to the information lady who told me to go back and try clicking on the same button….
Maybe I hadn’t tried enough? she wondered. Nyet, only every other day for the past week or so.
Maybe I had tried to access the service on a Sunday or holiday? Nyet….
She highlighted the steps on a pre-printed handout (apparently others had the same problem), putting stars next to the parts that pertained to my situation. I appreciated her helpfulness.
Sent packing, I returned to my computer and completed the steps. After filling out more forms… and my application number from earlier forms… a pop-up appears indicating that I may have jumped through the sufficient number of hoops.
Twenty-two minutes? Did that number have any secret meaning in Russian culture? Why not 20 minutes, or 30 minutes, or 15 minutes? No, it was 22 minutes.
Feeling nervous about yet another timed, online operation, I headed over to my e-mail account. I mean, I had nothing better to do than spend all day on this….
No e-mail. I wait five minutes. No e-mail. I wait fifteen minutes, tempting the fates. No e-mail. And on it went for the next three hours.
Now I am faced with yet another problem. The first date that popped up for a Russian Embassy appointment was for tomorrow. At 9:00 am. That was my first option and I grabbed it. But currently, without any e-mail confirmation, I wonder if I really have anything at all scheduled. Do I risk showing up tomorrow and being told that my latest attempt was for naught, also?
Nyet. He stands his ground.
Eventually, he relents and pops in on mini-Moscow. My husband tries to explain our predicament, however, the security guys never speak English. He asks to visit the information lady and they are adamant.
Nyet. When he attempts another explanation and shows my passport, now they are really confused. Unless this is a transgender issue, he is not me. Another guard emerges from an inner sanctum, crosses his arms and stares him down.
“Privyet,” Benedetto offers.
“You said what-?!!!” the kids and I burst out in disbelief as he recounts his international adventure. “That’s a rather casual greeting for a business setting…. No wonder they threw you out…. What did he do?”
Next day, I present myself at the Embassy. Naturally, it’s pouring rain and there are about a dozen hopefuls gathered outside the outer gate and more inside that gate, but still outside the building itself. I wonder if any of them have appointments. We creep forward one by one, speaking in Russian to the voice behind the intercom.
Today I have changed my tactic. I typed up a brief statement in Russian. When I go through gate-keeper after gate-keeper, I say good morning (not privyet-!), explain a little in Russian, and then hand them my fuller statement.
It works until I arrive to my final destination and the colleague behind the glass booth says it’s all my fault and she doesn’t want to read my tale of woe. The 22-minute e-mail must be in my spam folder.
Really? As though I overlooked something. So I respond in the same way any self-respecting Russian would.
—————Tags: getting a Russian passport, getting a visa to Russia, high-tech trials and tributions, making an appointment in another language, online forms for Russian Embassy or Consulate, Russian Embassy adventures