Visiting Russia? Here’s What You Should Know

Hopefully, we will all be able to start traveling again and high on many lists is visiting Russia, the Hermitage, and some of the great shopping districts in Moscow.  Plus, Russian can be surprisingly affordable, but this can change unexpectedly, so be sure and check the currency exchange as you make your plans.

However, presently Russia is involved in a number of conflicts around the world, and as such, has received sanctions from the international community.

This has led to the Russian media portraying ‘Mother Russia’ as the victim, including claims that it is being bullied by the West. This rhetoric feeds into the strong nationalistic pride of many Russians, and as such, could lead to the targeting of identifiable third-country nationals –  like you and me – for intimidation or violence. Russia also suffers from football hooliganism, including their propensity to confront rival fans. This is a major concern for many national organizations.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, organized crime groups have exerted a lot of power, and in many cases, have now legitimized many of their operations. They do still control drugs distribution, gambling and prostitution in most areas, and, with corrupt police officers, are able to act with impunity because of ‘The Roof‘, especially away from the main cities. Financial crime and money laundering is prevalent, and credit card scams and fraud exist at all levels. Pick-pocketing does occur in the major cities, especially in crowded places, metro, public transit stations, bars etc.

How to Travel Safe in Russia

Russia has been previously targeted by Islamic terror groups, and suicide attacks by terrorist groups is all too common in major cities, adding to the dangers of visiting the country.  The Russian authorities take the threat from terrorism very seriously and are professional in tackling the threats posed. However, risk still abound and visitors could be harmed should their be a terrorist attack.  Because of this, we recommend the following risk reduction strategies:

Russia

    • Be aware of your surroundings and any evolving situations.
    • Practice situational awareness.
    • Be mindful that open display of flags or team colors may identify you for intimidation or violence.
    • Be attentive of cultural intolerance and how your actions may be viewed.
    • Be careful using debit cards & credit cards. Credit cards are more secure, and carrying small amounts of cash is sensible as not every business will accept electronic payments.
    • Do not venture aware from open/known public areas and spaces.
    • Take care and be alert of pickpockets when using public transportation systems or in crowded places.
    • Consider the amount of personal and sensitive information you are taking with you. The rule of thumb should be to take only what is essential for your trip, and leave the rest at home.
    • Pre-plan all internal travel; use reputable travel agencies, avoid driving unless absolutely necessary; do not drink and drive (even if others do).
    • Ensure you have appropriate travel insurance to cover the trip, including medical cover which can be expensive if paying direct.
    • Keep up to date with your governmental travel advice.
    • If a terrorist incident were to happen in your vicinity, make your way to a place of safety and be aware on the developing situation. When safe to do so make your way back to your hotel.

If you visit Russia, we hope you have a fantastic time.  Should you travel to any other part of the world and are concerned about your personal safety or the safety of your staff, , please don’t hesitate to call us.

As always, we value your feedback which helps us shape our perspective on recent events, security and the services we offer.

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