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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2,000 French Visas Issued as Embassy Clears Backlog

The French Embassy has started to clear a backlog of visa applications after a one-day strike, issuing 2,000 visas in one day alone, tourist industry officials said Wednesday.

Last week's strike at the consulate ruined the May holiday plans of hundreds of vacationers, and the consulate issued about 2,000 urgent visas on Tuesday, its first day back at work after the extended May Day weekend, the embassy said in a statement.

Among those who received visas were 160 people who were heading to France by bus but were stuck without their passports in Brest, a Belarussian city bordering Poland, for three days. They resumed their trip Wednesday after their tour operator flew a courier to Brest with their passports, Interfax reported.

Meeting a request of tourist industry officials, the consulate on Wednesday started handing out passports with visas to tour operators at 9 a.m. -- mainly for tourists intending to leave for France later in the day or on Thursday, said Irina Tyurina, a spokeswoman for the Russian Tourist Industry Union.

The consulate usually accepts visa applications from 9 a.m. to noon and hands out passports with visas from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Tyurina said that if the consulate continued operating under the new schedule for a day or two, the backlog of visa applications would be cleared completely and all tourists would be able to go on vacation, though many would depart with some delay.

Employees of the consulate section of the embassy went on strike last Thursday to protest working conditions, hours and social benefits. The striking employees included both French and Russian citizens, all hired locally.