The majority of the representatives of the Russian Federation have failed to obtain visas from the Austrian embassy in Moscow to attend the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee, which is being held in Vienna, Austria, since April 11 and will continue until April 21.
The reason behind the absence of Russian representatives at the Committee has been confirmed by the deputy head of the Russian mission to Vienna, Ernest Chernukhin, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“Most of the Russian interdepartmental delegation, namely, representatives of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Investigative Committee, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, did not receive Austrian visas to participate in our session,” deputy head Chernukhin said, who was present at the meeting.
He also told those present that Moscow considers Austria’s refusal to grant visas for an official visit to Russian delegates “an act of political pressure on Russia” adding that the country is intentionally creating hurdles for Russia to take part in the establishment of an important international agreement.
He also accused Austria for violating its obligations that arise from a 1995 agreement that had established Austria as one of the locations of the UN headquarters.
“Russia strongly condemns the actions of the Austrian authorities and expresses a protest to Austria in connection with the failure to issue visas to the majority of the Russian delegation,” Chernukhin further said, urging UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to assess Austria’s actions in this regard.
The Committee in Vienna is being held to establish a comprehensive international convention on preventing and fighting the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes.
Back in January this year, Austria had also refused to issue a visa to one of the representatives of the Russian delegation to attend the UN Special Committee session on the creation of the same convention.
However, later in February, Austria had issued visas to 15 Russian representatives part of the EU’s list of sanctioned individuals, to attend an OSCE meeting in Vienna held at the end of the same month.
The act had been sternly criticised by ambassadors and other representatives of 20 world countries part of the OSCE, 81 of which have co-signed a letter calling on the Austrian government to ban the Russian delegation from entering its territory and taking part in the meeting.
At the time, the Austrian authorities had not commented on the letter, simply permitting the Russian representatives to participate in the meeting.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Schallenberg, however, had backed the decision to issue visas insisting that in spite of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which he has called brutal, Austria considers it important to keep the channels of communication with Moscow open.
On the other hand, the Russian delegation had been unable to attend a meeting of the OSCE held on at the beginning of December last year, in Warsaw, Poland, after the Polish authorities refused to grant them the required visas.
Source : Schengenvisa