We are currently in the process of applying for our Russian visas for October. Today we got the tourist voucher 'invitation.' It really is a long process, much more effort than I remember it being to get a Japanese visa (and more expensive too!) First, we had to book everything. Then, we had to pay the hotel to send us this invitation. Next we have to fill in the 499437543758743 page long application, and go to Edinburgh to get it sorted. We had a choice of Edinburgh or London. You know what lengths I will go to to avoid London ;)
This part is done at least!