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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Embassy Stops Issuing Visas as Safety Precaution

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has closed its visa windows to the public as a temporary security measure after it became the focus of angry protests over NATO bombing in Yugoslavia, officials said Tuesday.

Diplomats have also mostly abandoned use of the embassy's main building on the Garden Ring after a failed attempt Sunday to fire a grenade launcher at the building.

"On Sunday, March 28th, an unidentified person attempted unsuccessfully to fire a shoulder-mounted weapon at the consular wing of the U.S. Embassy," an answering-machine message told callers to the consular division. "Embassy employees have been advised to stay away from that building."

"Consequently, the consular section is temporarily closed for routine business," the message said.

Hundreds of police surrounded the embassy compound Tuesday, barring further anti-American protests close to it.

Russians typically form long lines alongside the embassy's yellow Stalin-era main building for visas.

Dozens still lined up last Thursday as angry protesters lobbed eggs and ink bombs at the now stained building. Many had to cower to avoid projectiles or verbal abuse.

Police kept all visa applicants away Monday and Tuesday following the Sunday attack, officials said.

Diplomats and other embassy staffers Tuesday were working in a large compound behind the main building and additional computers were set up in an auditorium to provide refuge from the main building. Some worked from home, officials said.

Officials said they hoped to return to work in the main building within a few days.