So far I've just scratched the surface on what is involved, mainly the high cost of visas and the required "invitation" letter. We were originally going to try to go this fall, but the hoops to jump through seem a little too daunting to rush through in that short of time, as we need our passports in hand for Italy in May, and can't be sending them off to the Russian embassy soon, etc etc.
For those of you who have gone through the process, any suggestions from your experience? Did you use an agency, or just go at it on your own? Thanks!
Russian visas has been changing a lot over the past decade -- mostly for the better -- so you may be finding some very outdated information.
You no longer need an invitation, just a hotel reservation (and it doesn't even need to be the hotel you end up staying in).
You no longer have an option of agencies to use or whether to do so. Unless you're going to the embassy/consulate in person, you MUST use their single designated agency, Invisa.
The time from mailing your passport to getting it back should be under one month with normal processing, so your timetable to go this year doesn't sound like an issue.
Thanks Lenin1991, that's good info! Sounds like it's now a little easier and quicker than I thought, going to forge ahead with plans. We have some new friends in Moscow we met last fall in Paris, and want to take the opportunity to go while we have someone there to visit with. Thanks again!