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Russia Accuses U.S. Of Creating 'Visa Wall' After Bolshoi Dancers Refused Visas

The Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi Theatre

Russia has accused the United States of building a “visa wall” with the rejection of documents that would have allowed two ballet dancers from the famed Bolshoi Theatre to perform in New York City.

Russian prima ballerina Olga Smirnova and Italian solo dancer Jacopo Tissi were to perform at a Lincoln Center gala on April 23, but the two were refused visas by the U.S. government.

"This did not happen even during the Cold War," Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website on April 21.

"But today, influential forces in the USA, preoccupied with trying to pressure Russia hard, do not stop at anything... They are trying to fence off Americans from Russians with a visa wall, as we've said before, making trips of our citizens to the USA practically impossible," it added.

Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre was not immediately available for comment, but Reuters quoted its press department as saying it did not organize the tour and had no information on the visa applications.

Several global issues have raised tensions between Washington and Moscow despite President Donald Trump’s stated goal of improving relations between the two countries.

On April 20, the Kremlin said the United States was making it difficult for crews of Russian airline Aeroflot to obtain visas.

The U.S. intelligence community has accused Russia of a widespread cyberhacking and propaganda campaign aimed at influencing the 2016 presidential election vote.

The United States and Europe have slapped sanctions on Russia for its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The U.S. military has assailed Russia for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and says it holds Moscow responsible for an alleged chemical weapons attack.

Meanwhile, the United States has said it supports Britain in a dispute with Russia over the March 4 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury. Britain has blamed Russia for the attack.

Moscow has denied it interfered in the U.S. election, said it had nothing to do with the Skripal poisonings, and claimed the allegations of a chemical attack in Syria are false.