Russia accuses U.S. of trying to disrupt team's preparation

MOSCOW -- Russia's Fed Cup captain was still waiting Wednesday for a visa to travel to this weekend's semifinals in the United States, and the Foreign Ministry isn't happy about the delay.

In a sharply worded statement posted on its Web site, Russia's Foreign Ministry said it had repeatedly raised the issue of captain Shamil Tarpishchev's visa with U.S. Embassy officials in Moscow, asking that it be issued "without further bureaucratic

"We are aware of the explanations of the U.S. State Department that the question is 'still under consideration' and, naturally, we consider this slowness to be incomprehensible and unwarranted," the ministry said. "We express hope for the speedy resolution of this question."

Officials with the U.S. Embassy could not be immediately reached for comment.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack was asked about the issue at a news briefing this week.

"The information I received is that [Tarpishchev] has applied for a visa and that that application is still pending and under review," McCormack said.

The draw for the best-of-five semifinal in the tennis competition is scheduled for Friday, with the matches played Saturday and Sunday at Stowe, Vt.

"Mr. Tarpishchev's visa application is with the State Department, and they are the final authorities on this matter," U.S. Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier said Wednesday. "The USTA is ready to assist Mr. Tarpishchev and the Russian tennis federation in any way that it can."

Tarpishchev accused the United States of deliberately trying to disrupt the Russians' preparation for the matches and said his team's coaching "has practically been wrecked."

"You can't manage a team if you're sitting on a chair in another place and don't know what's happening over there," he was quoted by Interfax as saying.