Safety in Russia

The point of view of a traveler from Belgium

Russia maffia culture?

The first conversation I had in Russia confirms the stereotypes that exist about Russia. Nevertheless I never felt unsafe during my ten day stay in Russia. The maffia is a phenomenon you probably won’t encounter during your travel in Russia eventhough the country will be marked as unsafe more than often. Especially since certain regions in the country are under constant war threat. Just think about the Southwestern Kaukasus region. With Ukrain, Georgie and a number of unacknowledged republics being so close, there always is a tension of threat. However, if you travel in the touristic regions of Moscow and Sint-Petersburg, you will never be in real danger. The extent of the country causes the safety level to differ a lot. .

Safety advice in Russia

Just like in most world cities it’s best to avoid hitting the streets alone at night. This is not only a measure to be taken in Moscow or Sint-Petersburg but also in cities such as Los Angeles, New York or even Paris.

Racism is another feat you can possibly encounter when visiting Russia. As a person with African or Asian roots, you can witness unpleasant welcoming, eventhough racism in Russia is more directed at people from Asia and the Caucasus.

When you come into contact with the police (of people pretending to be police), you face a real treat of them wanting you to bribe them. Corruption is a known-feat in Russia. If you’re ever in a similar situation, stay calm and ask a surrounder for help. They can help you with translation or in worst case scenario, witness the event.

Certain regions in the country are best to be avoided. One of those regions is the Caucasus where republics such as North-Ossetia, Karatsjajevo-Tsjerkessia en Kabardino-Balkaria are located but not always acknowledged by Russia. Also the border regions or best to be avoided. Especially the border with Belarus, Azerbaidzjan and Georgie. In most cases these areas are inaccessible for tourists.

Anyone staying for too long in these regions, risks a huge fine or even worse, being expelled from the country. Are you planning on traveling the whole country? Do some proper research about the necessity of visas and permits for the region you will be traveling through. This can avoid unpleasant situations during your trip.
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Dempsey Cappelle

Some advice regarding safety, which you need to know while you are in Russia.

1.
Pepper spray.

Scope of application of these tools remains out of this article. A few facts about their purchase.

*Pepper sprays are sold without special permission in Russia, Latvia, Belorussia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan

*In accordance with the Russian Federal law “On weapons”, spray cans are a civil gas weapon of self-protection. Citizens of the Russian Federation, who are of 18 y.o. and more, have a right to buy them without getting the license.

*The law does not say anything about forbidding the foreigners to buy them. Besides, some forums confirm the absence of difficulties with purchasing those gadgets by foreign citizens in Russia.
2.
LGBT


*11 June 2013 the State Duma of Russia accepted the law, assigning the responsibility for “propaganda of untraditional sexual relations among underage people” in order to “protect children from the information promoting denial of traditional family values.” The law inured 30 June 2013 after the Russian president Vladimir Putin had signed it.

*The accepted law assigns separate punishment for foreigners or persons without citizenship. Thus, such persons can be fined the sum of 4-5 thousand Rubles for such propaganda or be punished with administrative arrest for up to 15 days with administrative departure out of the borders of the Russian Federation. In case of usage of Mass Media (including the Internet) for the purpose of “propaganda of untraditional sexual relations among underage people”, the fine for foreigners and persons without citizenship will be 50-100 thousand Rubles or administrative arrest for up to 15 days with administrative departure out of the borders of the Russian Federation. Upon receiving the fine, in both cases, administrative departure takes place.

*The above mentioned law was changed a few times and yet in 2012 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada warned LGBT travelers about the unidentified law which would qualify criminal offence for propaganda of homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender men and women.

A simple word of advice – try not to demonstrate your relations in public. Russia is a country where homosexuality is decriminalized only in words.

3.
Meetings and protest actions.


For example, the recent accident at the meeting on March 26, 2017. A Greek citizen, Miltiadis, was having rest in “Izvestiya Hall”, where an Evening of Greek music was being held. He went out to smoke without his documents and outer clothing with a pack of cigarettes and the cloakroom tag in his pocket. He learned about the meeting only in the police van. He was released from the police department only the next morning. With an accusal of taking part in an unapproved action, resistance against police and crying out anti-constitutional slogans.

The simplest advice to travelers is to try to evade participation in demonstrations.  We also recommend you to always have you passport with you.

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