State Dept. Orders Russia To Close Pacific Heights Consulate [Updated]

This morning, the State Department ordered the Russian government to close its San Francisco Consulate, located at 2790 Green St. in Pacific Heights, by Saturday. 

Along with the closure, State is also forcing Russia to shut down a chancery annex in Washington, D.C. and a consular annex in New York. 

The move comes after Russia ordered the US to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 755, or two-thirds, after Congressional sanctions. Last December, four employees—allegedly spies— who worked at the consulate were sent back to Russia last December

Both countries will now have three consulates each in the respective countries. However, State noted that Russia will still be allowed to maintain a larger presence in the U despite the tit-for-tat moves.

"While there will continue to be a disparity in the number of diplomatic and consular annexes," said State Dept. spokesperson Heather Nauert in a statement, "we have chosen to allow the Russian Government to maintain some of its annexes in an effort to arrest the downward spiral in our relationship."

The State Dept. added that it hopes both sides will avoid further retaliatory actions, and instead, move forward to improve relations between the U.S. and Russia.

"The United States is prepared to take further action as necessary and as warranted," Nauert said.

Built in 1923 as a 13-unit apartment building, 2790 Green St. was designed by local architect Edward E. Young, who also drafted plans for the Hotel Californian (403 Taylor St.) and Park Lane apartments (1100 Sacramento St.)

Since the Russian government acquired the building in the 1960s, it's been the site of protests and demonstrations.

For years, activists opposed to the treatment of Russia's Jewish community staged large rallies outside. In 2013, gay rights advocates organized a demonstration to protest the passage of anti-LGBT legislation.

According to Sam Brock, a reporter with NBC Bay Area, the consulate is no longer accepting new appointments.

Update, 3:07pm: In a Facebook post, the Consulate General of Russia in San Francisco said that it would stop issuing visas and  "receiving visitors on all consular issues" on September 1st.

Saying that the closure would affect American, Russian and dual citizens, the consulate also noted that in 2016, it issued more than 16,000 tourist visas for American citizens.

"We believe that the decision to close the Consulate General of Russian Federation in San Francisco is another unfriendly step of the US authorities," the statement read.

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State dept orders russia to close pacific heights consulate