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April 26, 2005

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Steve Zwick

This is a clumsy witch-hunt! The reason I say that is that my own experiences getting people into Germany from Russia indicate that the problem lies not with the laws, but with the degree of autonomy given to front-line bureaucrats who make the decisions. The process is extremely opaque, and it is an open secret in Moscow that if you pay $500 (yes, that is US) to an "agency", you are guranteed of getting a visa into Germany unless the person is an obvious criminal. This was going on in the 1990s as well, but not as many could afford it as now. This extreme autonomy was well-intnetioned: certain influencial Germans were pressuring bureaucrats into giving visas to their girlfriends, and the autonomy was meant to stop this. As a result, you cannot pressure them -- but you can bribe them.

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