Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Violence in Russia (

xxatti Sep 17th, 2005 11:52 AM

Violence in Russia
Ok, I've read so many threads on many different forums, and Im so confused. There is so much contradicion about violence in Russia. Some say it's overblown, and others say it's not. Im sure there is some stuff going on, but the question is how much, and is it as bad as people say it is? I hear about police corruption, skinheads, foreigners getting attacked, especially people with tan or dark skin. But most everything I have read about violent acts, etc. has been by a third party or someone who had a friend of a friend who was assaulted, etc. Can somebody please clear this up once and for all. And if anyone has had 1st hand experience of anything bad happening to them in Russia, would you please post up. Im particularly concerned about Moscow and St Petersburg, as those are the places I'd be if I eventually travel there.

Eloise Sep 17th, 2005 11:55 AM

Anything you get here is likely to be anecdotal or second-hand.

Go to the State Department's Web site and get the official view.

LoveItaly Sep 17th, 2005 11:59 AM

Hello xxatti, two other websites you might check out also are the UK and the Canadian government sites. I have often read that they give very unbias and unpolitical travellers advice.

BTW, I have friends in Italy that have had friends go to Moscow to work through their employers and evidently they felt very uncomfortable at times. Second hand reports of course but believe they are honest ones.

Marc_David_Miller Sep 17th, 2005 12:22 PM

Being in the travel business (and specializing in Russian travel) I read every State and Commerce Department safety bulletin, Kroll and other private security companies, Warden report, etc. concerning Russia (specific incidents and issues are not always listed on the general web sites; there are more detailed and frequent bulletins and security briefings available). In addition, I regularly converse with American and Russian diplomats, security experts, members of think tanks/NGOs, the press, investors, and other people who are very well informed. The consensus is that there is no absolutely safe place in the world, and that Russia faces some serious challenges, but as far as safety for a Westerner in Moscow/St Petersburg, there is no more risk there than other world cities. Western Europe--France, Britain, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain--had many terrorist incidents/assassinations in the 1970s and 1980s, but people still visited its major cities, mostly without incident. Even New York City in the 1970s-1980s was far more dangerous a place than the tourist areas of Moscow and St. Petersburg today. As for ‘micro-level’ security issues, pickpockets are frequently a problem in both cities, especially in St. Petersburg during the summer (there were some high profile incidents this year). Frankly, most first-hand (and reliable third party) accounts I am aware of happened as a result of drunkeness on the part of the victim. Despite its party atmosphere, Moscow especially is not the place to lose control of yourself unless you have a reliable person with you (as well as a driver).

I find the US State Department's website to be comprehensive:

If there are particular concerns that you personally have you should discuss them with someone who knows Russia well (a travel advisor or agent, or even call the US Consulate).

When we work with clients going to Russia we give them a brief discussion on safety issues, most of which are common sense things which anyone living in a major city knows. We also give them a cell phone (with a Russian number) as an additional safety net, should they feel concerned and need to call their hotel or local contact people.

Eloise Sep 17th, 2005 12:27 PM

MDM has an obvious interest in promoting travel to Russia.

Here is the Canadian government's view:

Marc_David_Miller Sep 17th, 2005 12:44 PM


True, and we also want travelers to enjoy their trips without incident, which is why we are members of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (part of the US Department of State) and work with security and risk assesment companies in order for clients to be aware of, and prepare for, potential problems.

Garfield Sep 17th, 2005 01:29 PM

I have been to Russia a number of times and have never had any problems wit violence. However violence and dangers do exist. Watch out for the drunks, stay away from them, try not to be too loud when you talk, this will attract attention. Watch out for the gypsy groups, they are not a tourist attraction, they can be a threat to tourists. Be careful on how you carry your handbag or display your camera. I usually carry things in a local shopping bag. Be aware of your surroundings, if you feel uncomfortable get out of the area. Don't get drunk and walk the streets at 2am, you will find violence. Stay off dark streets at night.Try not to ride the metro during rush hour or late at night.

xxatti Sep 17th, 2005 01:58 PM

Loveitaly, I'd be interested to hear about what your friends encountered while in Russia... if you dont mind sharing.

xxatti Sep 17th, 2005 02:08 PM

How do you address the report by the Canadian website that Eloise posted?? Those safety and security issues are exactly the things that I've heard repeated time and time again about Russia. Sure some of these things may happen in other countries, but I've never heard such things echoed as warnings for other European countries that have large numbers of tourist.

"Violent crime has increased. Crime against foreigners is a serious problem."
"Extortion and corruption are common in the business environment."
"Harassment and attacks on foreigners of Asian and African descent have increased. Canadians should exercise extreme caution in crowds and places frequented by skinhead groups, including open markets."

Are people just making up this stuff and blowing it all out of purportion, or is this as serious of a problem as it's made out to be? I dont want to visit a country if I have to run home and lock my self indoors at sunset because there are bands of crazy people out to attack foreigners.

LoveItaly Sep 17th, 2005 02:18 PM

Hello xxatti, they were not my friends experiences they were experiences that friends of my friends had. All Italians btw.

The friends of my friends were in Moscow due to the husbands employement. They were there I believe for a year. Twice they were held up early evening, one time the wife was hit over the head with, if I remember correctly. a gun. She was defintely hit over the head "with something" as she did not remove her jewerly quick enough. They got to the point they did not go out at night. They stayed in their apartment. They enjoyed the daytime weekend days for sightseeing, having lunch out etc. But they did not leave their apartment unless absolutely necessary if it was dark.

The friends of mine said that this couple had travelled a lot and consequently were very excited to be sent to Moscow via the husband's employment. If I remember correctly (this was about two or so years ago) they could have extended their time in Moscow but did not and consequently returned to Italy.

Again a "second hand" story but coming from my friends who have known this couple forever so to speak I have no reason to question it as they are all well educated, smart and savay travellers etc.

Oh, and I do remember that the comment was made that the police showed no interest whatsoever either time they were robbed. They felt like it was useless to even report these crimes, they felt like they the victims were "at fault" in the eyes of the police.

I have never been to Russia and certainly have no personal knowledge xxatti. My stepgrandson was in Russia with a school group and then went back with his bride. They both had majored in the Russian language in university as they wanted to get jobs where they could live in Russia for awhile. His wife family is from Russia. After their last trip (where they visited with a lot of her relatives) they gave up on the idea. They just didn't feel like they wanted to deal with the day to day problems, the corruption etc.

That is all I know. May I add I have had friends that have visited Russia and all have had beautiful trips. But they all hired guides etc. and so it was a complete different situation for all of them. Best wishes to you.

Fabio Sep 17th, 2005 03:36 PM

I will be in SP 11/7 - 11/11 independently. Hiring guides locally is a good idea !!

But I will not be too much concerned, or I will waste my trip !
Crime exist almost everywhere and as much you read as much more concerned you are !! This does not mean that every story will happen to everybody !

I will just follow the basic recommendations where not to go and what not to do, but then I want to enjoy my trip !

Marc_David_Miller Sep 17th, 2005 09:39 PM


The points covered by the Canadian Foreign Ministry are quite good regarding what to be concerned about (but as a useful comparison look at those reports on Italy, Spain, Hungary and Poland, countries which most people do not think of as having particular security problems-many of the cautions mentioned in the report on Russia are written in the reports on these countries as well). We advise travelers to be cautious, and point out problem areas for general tourism; if there are specific issues, we address those as well (depending on what these issues are-large group, business travelers in sensitive industries, etc.).

Over the years I've met thousands of people who traveled to Russia and live in Russia (both native Russians and expats), some once as part of a tour group, some who fly over every other week. Most of these people had no problems at all when there; unfortunately some have been pickpocketed, mugged, extorted and worse. No place on Earth is absolutely safe; ultimately whether to go or not can be answered only by the travelers themselves.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:26 PM.