U.S. Says Russia Denies Teacher Visas, Accuses Moscow Of Using Children As ‘Pawns In Diplomatic Disputes’
U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman said Russia denied visas to 30 teachers who were due to start work at AAS next month, about a fifth of the school's teaching staff
U.S. officials say more than two dozen teachers at a Moscow school operated by the U.S. and British embassies have been denied work visas for the new school year, and accused Russia of using schoolchildren as “pawns in a diplomatic dispute,” RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty reported.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry, however, told news agencies that the assertion was an “outright lie.”
The dispute affects the Anglo-American School (AAS) in Moscow, which instructs about 1,100 students from 60 countries in the Russian capital’s northern districts. The Canadian Embassy charters the school, along with the U.S. and British embassies.
As tensions between Moscow and Washington have worsened, Russian officials have signaled that they might consider shutting down the school, or making things difficult for teachers and staff.
In 2016, after the administration of then-U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the closure of Russian diplomatic properties in retaliation for alleged cyber-meddling, U.S. media reported that Russian officials had suggested they might close the school. Moscow denied the reports, and no such thing occurred.
In a statement to RFE/RL on July 17, U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman said Russia had denied visas to 30 teachers who were due to start work at AAS next month, about a fifth of the school’s teaching staff.
He said the school was being forced to consider denying entry to some enrolled students, or shuffling responsibility among existing teachers.
Huntsman accused Russia of using schoolchildren as tools in “diplomatic disputes” between Moscow and Washington, though he did not say what specifically it was linked to.
“The Russian government has made the unfortunate decision not to issue visas to the incoming teachers who are expected to arrive next month to start the school year at the Anglo-American School of Moscow,” he said. “Children should not be used as pawns in diplomatic disputes.”
The school deferred comment to the U.S. Embassy.
A Russian Foreign Ministry official denied the assertion, but suggested that the U.S. Embassy was wrongly granting the teachers diplomatic status to work at the school.
“This is an outright lie, because the American side hid the facts,” an unnamed official was quoted by the state-run news agency TASS as saying.
In September 2018, a similar school for children of foreign diplomats in St. Petersburg had its lease canceled, and was ordered closed.
|Source||Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty|