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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Standard Visa Fee

In response to "No Winners in Visa War," Jan. 28.


Jo Durden-Smith's article about the British Embassy's visa operation is inaccurate.

We introduced charges for Russians applying for visas in 1996. This was several years after the Russian Embassy in London introduced charges for British citizens. It was not a tit-for-tat retaliation. Until 1996, Russians had, exceptionally, been exempt from visa charges. The introduction of charges brought Russian applicants in line with most other applicants for British visas worldwide.

The current cost of a standard single entry British visa is ?33 ($52.80), payable in rubles. This fee is charged worldwide, irrespective of the applicant's nationality. It is intended to cover the costs involved. The charge represents a small proportion of the overall cost of travel and is not in any way related to the higher charges at the Russian Embassy in London.

Ian Hay-Campbell

Head of Press and Public Affairs

British Embassy, Moscow

Tribute to Booker

In response to "Anti-Booker Awards Test Positive," Jan. 22.


In the recent extensive coverage of the Booker and Anti-Booker awards, one simple fact has perhaps been overlooked. Both represent a new, positively different kind of award for contemporary Russian literature.

Unlike the State, Triumph and Pushkin prizes that usually go, on the Nobel principle, to writers with established reputations, the Booker [and the Anti-Booker] provide wide publicity and substantial cash awards to those whose work has been published in the last year. Naturally, this gives young and/or little-known authors a much greater chance of attention. The Booker shortlist, announced two months before the final decision, increases that welcome exposure, and invites the public to join in.

Why then Anti-Booker? For a couple of years, Nezavisimaya Gazeta devoted a great deal of comment, much of it critical, to the Booker Prize. Then in 1995, the paper boldly claimed it not only knew better, but would do better -- and set up its own award. A year on, it is no longer very clear what is so "Anti-Booker" about the paper's three prizes, now diversified into other arts and genres in pursuit of a more distinct image. That the whole thing, so far, is still called the Anti-Booker is really a tribute, though, to the novel prize introduced here five years ago.

John Crowfoot

Secretary, Russian Committee

of the Booker Prize