Updates (#5) I’ve Got a New Russian Visa, and all getting a Russian visa…

Graham Phillips

I’ve wrapped the Brexit reportage project, and have spent this last week travelling around the Netherlands, working on MH17, and more. More on that to come soon. For now…

With the inevitability of Ignatius from Confederacy of Dunces casting up Fortuna, the BBC’s useful idiot Daniel Sandford likes to cast things up which supposedly indicate my ‘connection to Russia’ etc. Back in March, as I was deported from Latvia, Dan was suspicious about my ‘multi-entry visa’ from Russia.

Screenshot (180)

Well, that one has expired now in any case, and, after application I received a new Russian, multi-entry visa, last week. So I’d like to tell you quickly, it’s neither suspicious as Sandford makes out, or like this, as a Twitter wag conjectured:

Getting a tourist visa to visit Russia is simple for anyone. Getting a multi-entry, one-year visa which allows you to work is a more involved process, and without the right know-how, it can even be rather complicated. Last year in London in March of 2015, back from near 7 months in Donbass, I set about making my first application for a multi-entry Russian visa.

Before this, I’d only had tourist visas for Russia, my trips there in 2009, 2011, and 2014, well that was a bit different. July 2014 saw me deported from Ukraine after being captured by Ukrainian forces while covering war at Donestk airport. They detained me for 3 days, then deported me into Poland, for some reason, banning me for 3 years for my work supposedly ‘supporting terrorism’ – i.e. telling the side of the war in Donbass they didn’t want to be told.

RT then immediately called from all sides telling me they wanted to ‘fly me to Moscow‘ etc etc. But that turned out to be false, or they were even just lying to me. All RT wanted to do was keep me onside with them to record an interview about my release, for which they booked a tv studio in Warsaw and made a huge deal of.

Then, after that, despite knowing I was left Poland, car, along with many of my belongings stolen by Ukrainian forces, little money it was ‘goodbye Graham, we won’t be needing you any more.’ They not only withdrew all visa support, they let the Russian embassy in Poland know about this, and they promptly refused to give me any visa at all.

So it was, cut off, hung out to dry in Warsaw, I made the call – got on the next flight to London, got a one-entry tourist visa, in one day, next flight to Moscow, Lugansk Blockadedown to Rostov, and crossed over into Lugansk (photo, arriving in an abandoned city, booming with shelling), at that time under blockade, going on to spend the next near 7 months in Donbass, ultimately making an exceptional application to Russia to let me leave via Russia, as clearly Ukraine was no longer an option, I was banned from there, and death threats emanating from there ever-growing.

So it was, I left in March 2015, was back in London looking to get a new multi-entry visa so I could return to work in Donbass, entering through Ukraine clearly now not an option as per the above. In the first place, I didn’t exactly know where to begin, all those who’d so confidently said ‘we’ll help you out‘ suddenly rather slower to reply to messages.

Anyway, I googled, explored all the options, and couldn’t really find a way how a freelance journalist, not contracted to any company, could get a multi-entry, one year visa for Russia. It was rather a strange situation, people from a Russia which appreciated me as the ‘western journalist telling the truth about Donbass‘, or even just not be a Russophobe, as is the standard for most western journalists writing on Russia – Luke Harding, the above Daniel Sandford, and on – kept writing to me expressing gratitude and invitations to Russia.

In this time also, March to April of 2015 in London, Russian media kept calling me, asking me for Skype interviews and so on, which sometimes I did, others not. Graham LondonBut, the truth behind it all was that all of March I had no idea how I’d get a Russian visa to even return. Well, in March, April, I started casting the net out. Of course, it wasn’t all visa application, this photo from a day out at one of my favourite places to visit in London, Greenwich.

In April of 2015, I eventually found a contact in Russia, Sergey, who ran a news agency which had used several of my videos in the past. From early Facebook forays, Sergey indicated he may be able to help. And, unlike so many others, followed up on this with a letter, and documentation supporting my application for a Russian multi-entry visa, to work as a freelance, independent journalist.

However, in the first place, my multi-entry one year visa application didn’t quite go through, and I was instead given a three-month, double-entry visa. So, in May of 2015, I embarked on that for a then near-3 month working trip to Donbass, by this time already simply working for myself, via crowdfunding, earnings from YouTube.

HelsinkiIn this time, Sergey went to bat for me again, and in July of 2015, I left Donbass to go to Helsinki (pictured) to apply for what would be my first multi-entry Russian visa. Why Finland? Well, it couldn’t be Russia, Helsinki was easy to fly to, and there it was where I waited a few nice, slightly boring if I’m being honest, days while my application went through.

Go through it did, first multi-entry visa for Russia issued, and in August of 2015 I was off to do my Crimea project of that year, then staying working in Donbass, and Russia, until late May of 2016. I was then back in the UK until leaving last week to start work on my MH17 documentary (more on that soon), and, like last time, applied for another multi-entry Russian visa, with Sergey’s support. Still, filled out all the paperwork, as last time, paid the visa fees, as last time, but, a bit easier this time, it all went through ok, and last week I was issued with a multi-entry, one year visa for Russia.

So, what to say about applying for a Russian visa – there’s a process to go through, and it’s not necessarily the easiest, in terms of you do need pretty concrete documentation. However, it’s certainly both do-able, and possible, and the embassy, visa centre have in my experience always been professional. There are various agencies online who say they they can provide this, but, I don’t know Graham Russian Visaabout that or them enough to advise. Also of course, if you work for a company, teaching English etc, they’ll sort this out.

Getting a visa, which allows you to work, for a year is a pretty big deal, for any country. I’d advise in the first instance, visiting Russia on a tourist visa, and making enough connections to allow for those whose pledges of assistance will not quite stand up to requests for that to really happen. I could end this with a screenshot of the chap whose firm assurances of assistance subsequently gave way to ‘write to Ramzan Kadyrov on Facebook’.

But, I’ll simply say this, it should never have been necessary for me to get a Russian visa to work in Donbass. If Ukraine were a normal country, I’d still be able to go there to work, travel to Donbass through Ukraine, and would certainly do so. If I were a BBC journalist, be sure the FCO would have stood up for me when deported, rather than pretended they didn’t even know me.

Here’s the truth about Ukraine – any journalist working there is only doing so because they dutifully pump out the Kiev line. And for the rest of us? Well, I’m grateful that Russia, where I’ll also be doing reportage, is a country which allows independent journalism, enables it by giving visas, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to work over there.

Useful links – 

Visa policy of Russia


VFS – Russian Visa Application Centre


An example of Russian visa support site


6 thoughts on “Updates (#5) I’ve Got a New Russian Visa, and all getting a Russian visa…”

  1. You might want to talk to me. I have been doing similar research to yourself with better results.
    I am offering you suggestions because I admire your courage in standing up to the Ukrainian mafia (as I have observed in previous comment). You have my email (skype frederick.masri) should you decide to follow this suggestion up.
    Удача Вам !


  2. You are a lucky, really. I am British Citizen of Russian Ethnick and NEVER have Russian visa, and when I have asked for Russian passport and Russian Citizenship, as I had my birth in 1961 in Khabarovsk in Russia and lived for 6 years since 6 till 12 years in Chita Province in Russia in Yasnaya and in Bezrechnaya-1, and I had not received any citizenship at alll from Latvia or Russia from 1991 when USSR state collapsed, and my Soviet passport and Soviet Citizenship started to be invalid. I had Latvian Alien passport from 1991 – as an Alien, birth on the planet The Earth as a girl of a Russian Ethnic in Russia. I was 12 yo age, it was not borders inside USSR state, with 15-16 countries in the one Union, some as with USA for American states and with EU with no borders – so, my parents moved to live to Latvia, not worried to do me Russian passport as to 12 yo age – my name was in my mother’s passport – the situation similar for a modern time for Mr Pavel Astahov trying to sort for plenty Russian kids with no Russian Citizenship and Russian passports – Russia gave Russian Citizensip since 16 yo age only, marked as the age to vote tohave 1st passport. so, no Russian passport for a child to go abroad – no Russian Citizenship. I had a loss. and when I tried to apply for Russian Citizenship or Russianpassport, had the answers from RussianEmbassy fromn London, from Riga, from Putin’s offce and Minestry of Foriegn Affeir – Sorry, we can nit give you our Russian Citizenship or Russian passport as you never was and is ours for us as Russian Citizen and no a right to be grabted as your parents as Russian Citizens lived in Riga Latvia since 1974 and not live inside of Russia. … They adviced me to buy some properties in Russia for my money, so to have a visa to stay or toask my relatives in Russia, to find them to ask them to put me on their living place – their home, … so, see a point living in Great Britian where there are two Laws as separate laws – one as any chid a British Citizen if has rights for this, and each has passport – and another Law to vote as as related with the age group, Russian Deputats, Russian parents, grand-parents, adults, treated own kids, grand-kids as not Russian Citizen until 16 yo age. easily for peopl whom love theirs, see? My parents so, both, had been Russian Citizens, just living in Riga, Latvia, having Russian pension, me – not …. as their daugther birth in Russia, living in Russia, relativea in Russia – in Siberia, Saratov, Moscow, Vladivotok, Nahodka, Barnaul, Altai, Peterburg – me is not Russian, having my ancestors living in Russian Impair, USSR, Russia., birth in Russia. …. I leaned as Russia had declated the own state as the next of kin from USSR state, so, Russia took all alll all properties of USSR state as on the base of self-declaration be the nex of kin after Russia – see — on the property only, not on the people and Soviet Citizen or ex-Citizens —- as the co-owner of USSR as Soviet Citizen – I was the co-owner of ALL property of USSR by our Constitution – my share was in every property of USSR inside of USSR and avroad too — buildinbgs, factories, airoports, tran stations, hospitals, schools, houses, libraries, museums, land, rivers, lakes, sea sides beaches, forest, soil, gold, silver, cooper etc mines, coal, uranium, allumineum, nikel, diamons, treasures, including as ships, plkanes, trains, buses, trams, trollyes, military transport, cosmic technology, space staions, rockets, technology – se, I was one of the rich women having such things – including buildings of Russian Embassy abroad in London and in other countries here too, as in mine property as a co-owner. We had as a closed club country, where was all or really cheap or free inside as for member of co-owner of property of USSR, and the pension age for women from 55 yo age. … The collapse of USSR put me to a loss of everything what I had as a co-owner – including my Citizenship here as Russia had not provided Russian passport and Russian Citizenship to me as to ex-Soviet Citizen USSR, not receiving any Citizenship of any from 15-16 states of USSR. and Russia was a place of my birth. See — Russia as a state picked other people property, leaving all people outside as unwanted. I had asked 4 times to give me Russian passport and Russian Citizens as to ex-Soviet Citizen USSR, as Russia said they the next of kin on the all heritage and state of USSR – and they refused me 4 times – Sorry, you do not ours! — Piratesm really, taking other people goods and threw out oplenty people and women out of the board. …. I was upset – i wanted to live as a woman of Russian Ethnic in the country Russia to talk on Russian language as my native language. and they refused. … they said as Russia for just for rish people already. If you have money – they want you as their. if not – not any wish to have. They had a special programm to help to return back – but … just for youngest, which I was not already, so unwanted by my age group too.
    I just applied 5th times, and when I tried to send extra scanned documents, finded my e-mail as blocked,
    You see yourself as Great Britian for Brexit, David Cameron and teresa May blamed Russia, Russian, and for me is areally hard here in Great Britian as for British Citizen of Russian Ethnic, here during over 17 years of life here as humilated a lot. and I wish to leave UK, so this true-born in UK British English-speakers may be happy, to use just their English language, me-happy to use Russian language living in Russia. This a feeling as to love own mother -rich or poor, wrong or right, calm or angry, but your native mother to stay till the rest of your day and as my birth was in Russia and my mother and father are Russian Ethnic, my native language is Russia, see, I have not choice here … as people have their own mother – Russia for me in the some position always. Here I had not my birth here, and my childhodd was in Russia too. … I fed up… so hard to hear just one English language which I started to use fromn my 36 yo age and not able to memorise words, meanings, to pronanuce them — plenty people have not difficulties to understand me – so used to say especially as they could not regignice other people pronancation -so they are not qualifited to work with wide public but they had their work. as one tried to re-ask me over over to rpounnce a word bin as not able to recognise this, having a work in British Police when I tried to report to British police as some thief took a silver dupin plastic bin, and British police started to be deaf niot able recognice no one word, and in writing-too – syaing a they had refuse to take the message from me – while later much later they took – here were 2-3 plastic bins stoled and a hardness to record this was in a British Police database in 2009, while they might refuse and listening foreign accent -so to take message from one-not from another. My neigbor could record the some-me not. i tried couple times. Or…. when I put my poem on Russian – they said to stop immidiatly as here UK and I need ti use English language in my free time in the local social web-side Streetlife, so I canceled and closed account here, no the ability to communicate. Or when I celebrated me will be a grandmother mssage -1st time in my life – in my property as the owner, in a daily time – British neibors knoecked to stop immidiatly to hear any Russian Ethnical songs as not permitted here in UK and uspet her as English-speaker — she was The Bruce, Bruce maiden name – 1st Counsil of Peterburg was The Bruce, Bruce, Scottish clam Bruce, granted in Russian Noble by Peter The Great and his brother as Russian general was. see – Russian people and state was much kinder to all these plenty foreigners from German, France, Scotland, England Ireland. here …. …. not nice…. and this not nive was a reason as Great Britian had not 1st country flying on the space, and the collapse of British Impair. they used the local power to humilate plenty others, so other countries …. Russian Impair had been made by foreigners too, working succesfull. Including German Princeses from Saxony as Russian Tsarica Ekaterina II. … plenty Russians are genetic mix of Europeans, British, Irish, Scottish, Germans, French, Scandinavians, Vikings too, and Hazars, just they use another and one common language as Russia, not any big diffrence, some one head, two hands, two legs, one mouth, two ears, two eyes. some good some bad as everywhere. People of each country are doing the life in their country as it is. as their inner choices all times. Really, Russia is the example of Great Britian in plenty things as the some now more and more, just another Russian language and this all. Plenty British white race people related to Sibiria to Russia, so to Russians, and Scandinavians are decendents from people from Siberia too, all Vikings. Vikings covered island England, Europe, and Russia too, Russians named them Varanges, Variagi. all geneticly related.


  3. See a point of the Cold War and plenty stupid things as the attempt to push the freedom of actions, speaches, opinions, by the attampts to blame others inclduing in any sympathy of Russia and Russian — sorry – can you say me the name of allies of British people and Great Britian in WWII 1939-1945, by years, and whom what did?

    See a point -when someone neede the urgent help, involving in ethe loss of lives during a fighting with Hitler – British people had not blamed Russians to fight against Hitler and so from the bombing of British properties?

    Soon, as no needs any more – we them used -having what we needed as the end of war and bombing started – and British Thank you you help to our British Nation and Great Britain survive was the start of a Cold War with their own allies, helping them to survive as already no needed any more.

    The some attitute of plenty British compainies in Great Britian, to use staff, and to threw out soon as they ill, as no needed any more.


  4. Dear Dobbb, if you will find a free time to read this – I had applied as my 5th Attempt to receive Russian Citiznesip and passport to move to Russia from UK, and so to talk on my native language.


  5. Graham, late last year I got my visa through http://ru.vfsglobal.co.uk/ in London. It was quite expensive (multi-entry, i.e. only 2: one to get into Russia, and the other to get back into Russia after I had been in the DPR), and I had to get someone in Moscow to sponsor me…whom I had NEVER heard of, and who had NEVER heard of me either! That cost me an extra £35 – although if I had done it through the Russian hotel I later stayed at, could have been done for £10, but would have taken longer – which was charged by another company working inside the vfsglobal application centre, and since I can’t speak Russian, they were very competent to help me, and I had no problems getting into Russia and on into the DPR, but I did have a very nice person helping me there, who could speak Russian and English. 😉
    3 complaints: 1. Very expensive. 2. Visa only valid for 1 month, why not 3? 3. Sponsorship – this is a complete rip-off.


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