I'll get to that later because I can't apply for my Chinese visa until I get my passport back from the Russian consulate who are presently perusing it. I will break the actual steps needed to get a Russian visa down later but for now, let me just say, it is an exercise in cultural communication. Without even stepping one foot into the country I feel I have already glimpsed how my three weeks there will go. One the one hand, they are the most nitpicky, persnickety officials I have ever had to deal with. On the other hand, there is no official obstacle that cannot be cleverly circumnavigated .
Now mark my words, no matter how precisely you fill out the application, they will find something wrong with it; a spelling error, wrong punctuation, something. Mine was rejected because I had not realized my LOI had written (in cyrillic) the names of the hotels I was supposedly staying at during my three weeks in Russia. I had, myself, picked various hotels randomly out of a guidebook and put them down (in english) on my application. Now the agent looking over my papers was not at all bothered that the facts were blatantly false (as in I clearly was not going to be staying at hotels I didn't know about). All she cared was that the forms did not match. But, for $25, she could retype my entire application replacing my hotels with the cyrillic ones mentioned on the LOI. Note, this was $25 per visa per family member since they ALL had to match, not a one time thing. I still don't know the names of the hotels we and the kids are supposedly staying at.