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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Embassy Confirms Consular Officers Let Go

The French Embassy confirmed on Tuesday that three of its consular officers had been let go after it was discovered that they had been issuing visas illegally.

One consular officer was fired and two resigned in the wake of an internal investigation, embassy spokeswoman Elsa Pignol said. All three are French nationals. Their names were not disclosed.

Pignol said the investigation was still under way and that it was too soon to say whether the three would face punishment. She added that the loss of the three officers would not affect the time it took the consular section to process visas. The processing period at the French Consulate is two to three weeks, the longest among European consulates.

The French newspaper Liberation reported last week that the three officers began offering three-day visa service for 10 to 30 times the standard fee in April. At the time, two-thirds of consular section employees had gone on strike, spoiling the vacation plans of many Russian tourists. The one-day work stoppage was called to protest what consular employees called a hectic work schedule, poor benefits and the uncertain legal status of French government employees in Russia.

Pignol said there was no connection between the strike and the illegal issuing of visas.