Visa applicants bury iPads in flowerbeds to meet U.S. Embassy security conditions

New security regulations of the U.S. Embassy in Russia have caught many visa applicants by surprise.

It is prohibited to bring any electronic gadgets, earphones, chargers or liquids, including perfume, onto the premises of the Embassy's consular department since September 1. The notice was posted on the Embassy door.

Yet the storage room accepts nothing but mobile phones. Security officers do not answer questions about what to do with the other belongings and only offer that applicants leave the building and therefore miss an interview.

An Interfax correspondent who was standing in line for the Embassy for about an hour said many visa applicants were stunned by the new rules and came up with unusual solutions. One visitor tried to bury his iPad near the police booth, and another visa applicant put his belongings into a plastic bag and buried them in a flowerbed on Sadovoye Ring near the Embassy building.

Earphones and chargers are hanging on the metal barriers along the U.S. Embassy and perfume bottles, MP3 players and other gadgets are lying on the grass. People are walking on the grass and looking for their things after their interviews are over.

A car parked near the Embassy building carries a "Storage Room" sign written on a piece of cardboard. Muscovites standing in line said that unknown persons were offering to store their belongings in the car for 100 rubles. "Is there a guarantee that this car won't drive away after they collect several iPads?" a visa applicant said indignantly.

The police detail at the Embassy entrance showed no interest in the car parked on the sidewalk in violation of traffic rules.

The U.S. Embassy told Interfax that visa applicants could see the relevant notice at the web-site, which says: "Please be advised: You will NOT be permitted to bring (a) any electronic device (with the exception of a mobile phone smaller than 3 cm X 13 cm X 6 cm); (b) anything that can be used as a weapon; or (c) any large bag such as briefcases, backpacks, suitcases, duffel bags, etc. Prohibited items will not be stored by Embassy personnel and applicants may be refused admittance. See the section on Security Regulations for additional guidance here."

The Embassy said the same notice was included in letters scheduling interview appointments and posted on the door of the consular department.

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