Cablegate: Country Clearance Granted for Staffdel Talwar


DE RUEHMO #0732/01 0771410
O 171410Z MAR 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 26282

1. Embassy welcomes and grants country clearance to Puneet Talwar,
Senior Professional Staff Member Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
from March 19-22, 2008.

2. Control Officer is Dereck Hogan, tel. 7-495-728-5152;
7-495-728-5451 (hm); 7-495-970-4995 (cell); E-mail is

3. AECA transportation will provide roundtrip transportation to and
from the airport on March 19th and 22nd. Cost of this
transportation is up to $65 each way and Mr. Talwar will pay the
driver upon completion of each trip.

4. We have made reservations at the Marriott Grand Hotel: 26/1
Tverskaya Ulitsa; telephone (7-495) 935-8500; fax (7-495) 935-8501.
The daily rate is within per diem for Moscow and breakfast is
included. Reservations can be cancelled 24 hours before the arrival
time without incurring charges.

5. We have not received confirmation of your security clearances.
In order for government employees to enter the Embassy's controlled
access areas (CAA), the RSO office must receive verification of the
visitor's security clearance in advance by front channel cable.
Individuals who do not hold an appropriate clearance must be
escorted while in the Embassy CAA.

6. Weather: Temperatures in Moscow in March vary from 0-40
degrees, with snow or rain possible; winter clothing is

7. Visa requirements: All visitors must have a valid entry/exit
visa for Russia and may not enter Russia before (or depart Russia
after) the dates shown in the visa. Please note that the dates on
Russian visas are listed in day/month/year format. If in
Washington, please allow a minimum of fourteen (10) working days, up
to a maximum of twenty (20) working days for Russian visa
processing. If applying in another country, please allow a minimum
of twenty (20) working days. Visa extensions and other amendments
requested after arrival normally take ten to fifteen days to
process. To minimize the number of emergency requests for
extensions and other amendments after your arrival, the Russian
Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggests that initial visa applications
include a five-day cushion on each side of your planned travel
dates. For instance, if you plan to arrive June 5 and depart June
25, you should request a visa that is valid for the entire month of
June. Please carefully check the dates of the visa before entering
the country; travelers arriving before or after the validity dates
on their visas will be detained at the airport and may be deported
to their original embarkation points.

8. Passport/visa registration/migration cards: All visitors who
remain in Russia for more than three business days must register
their passports and visas with the Russian government. The
registration authority is given to hotels. Visitors not staying at
hotels should register their passports/visas through the Embassy
Human Resources office; this process takes approximately two
business days.

Migration Card for all travelers: Russian authorities have
implemented a migration (entry/exit) card system at all border
crossings. This is in addition to the visa regime. All visitors to
Russia must complete a migration card, which is handed out upon
arrival in Russia - either on airplanes or at border crossings.

TDY travelers must complete the migration card. There are five steps
to this process - Obtain a migration card upon entry to Russia,
complete the card, ensure the card is stamped by border officials
upon entry, register the card at their hotel, and most importantly,
keep the card with their passport. If TDYer travelers are stopped by
police or militia, they must produce a passport, valid visa and
stamped migration card. Upon departure from Russia, TDY travelers
will be asked to relinquish this migration card to border police. If
the card is lost, travelers must arrange to replace the card, before
departure, or risk being barred entry to Russia on future trips.

9. Customs: Russian customs procedures include entry and exit
declaration forms. The new law on currency regulation and control
allow foreigners to export up to USD 3,000 without providing a
customs declaration or proof of how the money was obtained.
However, foreigners may also export up to USD 10,000 by simply
filling out a customs declaration upon exit. More than USD 10,000
can be exported upon proof that it was imported into Russia legally
(a stamped customs declaration or proof of a legal bank or wire
transfer). TDY employees and official visitors should abide by these
rules, as they may have only limited diplomatic immunity.

10. Export prohibitions: TDY employees and official visitors should
be aware that art (antiquities, paintings, samovars, icons, etc.)
may not be taken out of Russia without advance written permission
from the Ministry of Culture. Visitors planning to purchase art
objects or antiques while in Russia should first check with the GSO
office on export requirements.

11. Security situation: Recent incidents occurring within Russia,
to include the August 31 explosion outside a Moscow metro station
involving apparent suicide bombers and the hostage taking in
Southern Russia; have highlighted the continued risk of terrorist
activity. The U.S. Embassy is not aware of any credible or specific
information that American citizens or U.S. interests in Russia are
targets of this terrorist activity. Nonetheless, the risk of an
American citizen being an unintended victim of these attacks does
exist. The Embassy advises American citizens traveling or living in
Russia that the potential for terrorist actions, including actions
against civilians, is currently high and is likely to remain so for
some time.

Crime in Russia remains at a high level and often is directed
against westerners. The types of crime reported range from petty
theft, primarily from hotel rooms and train compartments; street
crime involving pickpockets or bands of street children also is
common. Theft involving the capture of electronic ATM and credit
card data also has risen in recent months.

When traveling in and around Moscow, please remain vigilant at all
times. Exercise good judgment and the utmost discretion when using
any form of public transportation. If you are transiting via train,
plane or bus, please make sure you provide a friend or coworker with
your travel schedule, so that you can be accounted for at all times.
Avoid large crowds and public gatherings that lack enhanced
security measures. If you are out in public, we recommend that you
carry a cell phone, with important telephone numbers to include the
Marine Security Guard Post 5 (728-5025).

The human and technical intelligence threat in Russia remains a
major concern. All non-USG facilities, including hotels, are
considered compromised and classified material cannot be stored,
discussed or processed in them.

12. Currency exchange: Russia has a predominantly cash economy,
with the Russian ruble as the only legal tender for local
transactions. Rubles (and dollars, if needed) may be obtained from
bank ATMs that are connected to the PLUS and CIRRUS systems using
your U.S. debit/credit cards. Credit cards are accepted and may be
safely used at major hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers. RSO
recommends against using credit/debit cards for small purchases or
in stand-alone ATM (those not physically located at a bank), as
credit/debit card data theft is an ongoing problem. Dollar cash may
be exchanged at numerous banks and exchange houses throughout the
city. Additionally, Citibank has an exchange facility at the
Embassy and will provide accommodation exchange for USG official
visitors and USG contractors, upon presentation of travel orders and
a photo ID. Official visitors may also obtain U.S. dollars or local
currency upon presentation of travelers' checks or a valid personal
check drawn on an U.S. bank account. Please note that Citibank is
only able to accept American Express traveler's checks at this time.
There are also two Citibank ATM machines, which distribute both
Rubles and Dollars, located on the Embassy grounds.

13. Further information on traveling and safety within the Russian
federation is available at the State Department's Consular Affairs
web site: Official travelers
are also encouraged to request up-to-date security related
information through their Embassy Control Officer. This information
is available on the DOS OPENNET's Embassy Moscow website (RSO link).


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