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Inefficiencies of the Mariinsky WebsiteAre there monkeys or humans operating the MT website?


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#46 Helene

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 09:43 AM

I remember filling out a Russian visa application: it was about 1/3 of the work of a permanent residency application, and they earned every penny processing that tome. They wanted full employment and address info and a list of all charitable donations since adulthood. (I was in such a rush to get my application in with a tour group that I didn't photocopy it, and I may never be let back in again, since I'm sure I've forgotten half of the small ballet companies and chamber music groups I gave $25 to in 1981 or 1992; if they ever compare applications, they'll never line up.) Both the US and Russia charge a lot of money, regardless of whether the visa is approved, and that hasn't stopped people from visiting the US, even if the numbers dipped because of post 9/11 hostility at the borders.

The difference in getting a Russian visa is that not only do you have to get certification from where you are staying (if not family) each night you are there, you have to declare exact dates of travel. There's no landing in St. Petersburg and deciding from there. That's different than a US tourist visa, which generally is valid for a maximum number of days or months over a flexible time period and which requires proof of a return ticket out of the US. I think these are the biggest obstacles to travel to Russia. Visas wouldn't be an issue if travel times were flexible: the visa could be applied for in advance for the Festival period, with plans finalized after the rep and casting are announced.

#47 Birdsall

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 09:55 AM

The difference in getting a Russian visa is that not only do you have to get certification from where you are staying (if not family) each night you are there, you have to declare exact dates of travel. There's no landing in St. Petersburg and deciding from there. That's different than a US tourist visa, which generally is valid for a maximum number of days or months over a flexible time period and which requires proof of a return ticket out of the US. I think these are the biggest obstacles to travel to Russia. Visas wouldn't be an issue if travel times were flexible: the visa could be applied for in advance for the Festival period, with plans finalized after the rep and casting are announced.


Yes, I am glad I went in March instead of White Nights. I was actually going to go to the White Nights this year but changed my plans to March and so I already knew what was playing. I would be really upset not knowing which dates to put on the visa application now. Early June might have all the good ballets. Or late June or early July.......there is no way of knowing, and I do not like to leave my dog (even if my partner takes care of her) for longer than a week. So I would have absolutely no idea when to fly. Needless to say this makes the visa application process complicated b/c you don't even have a hotel booked. Anyone going this summer will have to do the quickie visa that costs way more to get it processed faster....

White Nights has usually been promoted as an international festival. If it were a festival aimed mainly at locals I could understand the delay (it would be no big deal to find out at the last minute what is playing), but this is just plain ridiculous!

#48 volcanohunter

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 11:12 AM

Countries like Ukraine and Bellarus, which are reportedly hotbeds of "loose nukes," are not on the VWP list. So citizens of those countries have to go to the U.S. Embassy for an interview (and perhaps further investigation) to determine if it's safe to let them into the U.S.


Even though Ukraine decommissioned its last nuclear weapon in 1996? I would think that even in the absence of security threats in many cases the U.S. would be worried more about economic migration--people arriving in the U.S. as tourists and then going to ground as illegal immigrants. Recent economic downturns notwithstanding, what the countries on the VWP have in common is that they're rich. Canadians also require no visa to enter the U.S., but that's not a question of a visa being waived, but rather of there being no visa to begin with.

Governments can make money on processing visa applications, but since they could make even more money off actual tourists, I wouldn't think that throwing up travel barriers would be to their economic advantage. Many countries insist on reciprocity; if the U.S. requires a visa of its citizens, they will require one of Americans. But some countries take a more practical view. Ukraine allows Americans, Canadians, Japanese, Swiss and EU citizens to enter the country visa-free for 90 days. It was a temporary measure put in place for the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest and was never revoked subsequently. Having visa requirements is not necessarily a deterrent for tourists. Australia requires visas of all foreigners--even though the U.S. does not require visas of their tourists--but short-term tourist visas for Americans cost only 20AUD, and EU, Norwegian, Swiss and Vatican citizens can get them for nothing. Citizens of most countries have to pay a lot more. So yeah, all things considered, Americans are spoiled in this regard.

#49 Helene

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 11:23 AM

The last time I flew to Australia, the visa was included in the airline ticket price, and without looking at the fine print, I wouldn't have known it existed.

#50 mussel

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 12:16 PM

I agree with VH that the #1 reason for visa requirement is economic, imagine how US would be flooded if there is no visa requirements for Mexico, China, India or any poorer countries.

I was in HK several years ago and wanted to take 2-3 days visit to Shenzhen and Canton, but didn't because of visa requirement. I remember Brazil used to be visa free for American, then it demanded US to reciprocate, US refused and visa requirement was imposed, numbers of American tourists to Rio dropped, Rio mayor requested the visa be removed for US to no avail.

I think there's no cost for Australian visa, you just need to file your info online before your arrival and it'll give you a confirmation number. Russian visa requirement pain is on a different level. Is the visa good for single or multiple visits? Here's a list of visa requirements for US citizens around the world: http://en.wikipedia....tates_nationals

It really make no sense for some countries to impose visa requirements. Is India really afraid of Americans working illegally?

#51 California

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 12:46 PM

Even though Ukraine decommissioned its last nuclear weapon in 1996?


Try Googling "loose nukes" and Ukraine for sources, e.g., the Council on Foreign Relations:
http://www.cfr.org/w...ose-nukes/p9549

#52 Helene

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 12:48 PM

There is a cost to enter the US on the green form (countries in the visa waiver program). It might be ~ $6.00, and, I've noticed that they don't always both to charge it. It takes time to process, and sometimes they have higher priorities.

I had more difficulty with India customs and immigration trying to leave the country than entering any other country. (India checks on the way in and out.) I had traveled there a half dozen times for work over three years under a multiple-entry business visa; each entry was limited to a certain number of days. Once I changed my outbound flight, and the itinerary didn't have my incoming flight info. The inbound stamp was incorrectly partially stamped over another stamp, and it was hard to find among the many stamps and extra pages. The immigration officer insisted that I had entered the country seven months earlier on this visit, even though I had found the outbound stamp from the same airport six months earlier. After 10-minutes of grilling, where I was about to be sent to an office, I finally found the inbound stamp, he glared at me, and finally let me through.

#53 Cygnet

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 01:18 PM

I've always found it quite difficult to obtain and update a visa for Russia.

#54 volcanohunter

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 02:53 PM

There is a cost to enter the US on the green form (countries in the visa waiver program). It might be ~ $6.00, and, I've noticed that they don't always both to charge it. It takes time to process, and sometimes they have higher priorities.


I've heard EU citizens complain about the information they're required to submit in order to get travel authorization to the U.S. under the VWP, particularly under the "do any of the following apply to you?" section.
https://esta.cbp.dhs...Help_1.htm#ata2

#55 Helene

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 03:38 PM

They reflect the standard border questions that look for people who may not be qualified to cross the border, based on health, prior records, and the problem of child kidnapping, particularly in custody suits. I would rather answer the questions up front than be asked them at the border and be turned away.

Americans often don't realize that things like DUI convictions that are misdemeanors in the US can get them turned away at the Canadian border, because they are felonies as far as Canadian immigration is concerned.

What I thought was discretion about paying the fee looks to me as if the people who pay at the border crossing window are the ones without credit cards. I'm assuming the credit card info on the visa is to process the payment.

#56 volcanohunter

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 07:49 PM

Truthfully, I don't remember whether I've ever been asked about leprosy, drug addiction, kidnapping or crimes of moral turpitude when entering the EU, but I will try to make a mental note of it the next time I cross an EU border Posted Image

#57 Helene

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 12:06 AM

Pre-NEXUS, I used to be asked about kidnapping children each time I crossed the Canadian border by car. That and firearms. Sometimes I was asked about diseases and DUI felonies. Coming back into the US, they only asked asked about fruits and vegetables. I thought this was a telling sense of priorities.

#58 Jayne

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 07:16 PM

I've been asked about firearms, drugs, and fruit / veggies while entering Canada. On the reverse trip, they just say "pop the trunk" and send the dog around. I miss the good old days pre 9/11, where they just asked if you had a nice time, and please confirm you're not bringing any live plants across the border.

#59 Drew

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 04:57 PM

I have been trying hard to restrain my whining on the theory that it's an unbecoming trait and, on the internet, will of course live forever. But just in case anyone is keeping track, we have entered the second week of May and still the website offers no word on Mariinsky programing for the first week of June. In any of the theaters.

I underline the word programming. I'm not talking about cast information. They DO still say there is an "international" White Nights festival through all of June and through early July. Just don't say what it involves past May 31st.

Of course, one assumes they are dancing Swan Lake on June 6th based on the ads for the 3D live broadcast of it. But evidently they are not interested in selling seats to the live performance. Perhaps because it's so far off in the future...no ballet fan in their right mind could be trying to plan that far ahead.

Oh...never mind.

#60 Mashinka

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:20 AM

Of course Paris Opera Ballet are very bad about casting, only disclosing who is dancing at the last moment. But my annoyance with POB is more about wanting to see as many casts as possible whereas at the Kirov there are more and more dancers I want to avoid.


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