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Russia: progress in teacher visa dispute

Following reports that the Anglo-American School of Moscow was to go without 30 incoming foreign teachers this month after Russian authorities rejected their visas, Russia’s foreign ministry has ‘softened’ its stance amid signs of thawing tensions between the two countries.

School leaders fear there may not be enough teachers for the next term if visas are not issued. Photo: Wikipedia

The independent, non-profit school, founded in 1949, also teaches Russian nationals

Leaders had feared the school, which is attended by children of Western diplomats between the ages of four to 18, would have to scale back on student numbers unless the issue was resolved.

“Children should not be used as pawns in diplomatic disputes”

However, according to The Moscow Times, the foreign ministry has since issued seven of the 30 visas requested, which will allow all current students to return.

“Because of the lack of availability of teachers, the school can’t yet confirm enrolment to some 50 new pupils,” director of the school Rhonda Norris told parents via email.

Teaching around 1,200 students from more than 60 countries, AAS has been caught in the crossfire of diplomatic friction between the US and Russia, according to officials who blame each other for the situation.

“Children should not be used as pawns in diplomatic disputes,” said US ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman.

Reuters reported that a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said it was a retaliatory action, as she accused the US of starting a visa war in 2017 that made it hard for Moscow to rotate its diplomats in the US.

Maria Zakharova said Washington expected Russia to issue diplomatic visas for the teachers in Moscow, but was unwilling to offer the same for Russian teachers at a school in the US capital.

Russia would issue the AAS teachers if the US would do the same for its Russian diplomatic personnel, Zakharova said, as she referred to children at the Moscow school “hostages of American diplomacy”..

The school is currently closed for the summer and was unable to offer further comment on the situation.

A spokesperson from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, which accredits the school, told The PIE News that the circumstances at the school are unique.

“We remain in close touch with both our international schools and the State Department of Overseas Schools in support of ongoing quality and effectiveness in teaching and learning in schools we accredit,” they said.

The independent, non-profit school, founded in 1949, also teaches Russian nationals.

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