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Health & safety

Dangers & annoyances

Unfortunately, street crime targeting tourists has increased in recent years, although Moscow is not as dangerous as paranoid locals might have you think. As in any big city, be on your guard against pickpockets and muggers. Be particularly careful at or around metro stations, especially at Kurskaya and Partizanskaya, where readers have reported specific incidents. Always be cautious about taking taxis late at night, especially near bars and clubs that are in isolated areas. Never get into a car that already has two or more people in it.

Watch out for gangs of children (generally referred to as 'gypsy kids'), who are after anything they can get their hands on.

Some policemen can be bothersome, especially to dark-skinned or some foreign- looking people. Practical advice from a Moscow synagogue is 'cover your kippa (skullcap) '. Other members of the police force target tourists. Reports of tourists being hassled about their documents and registration have declined. However, it's still wise to carry a photocopy of your passport, visa and registration stamp. If stopped by a member of the police force, do not hand over your passport! It is perfectly acceptable to show a photocopy instead.

The most common hazards are violent or xenophobic drunks, and overly friendly drunks.

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While you're there

Medical services

Gone are the days when patients received medical care for free. (You probably don’t want that free care anyway, as the old saying holds true: you get what you pay for.) Both of the international medical facilities listed here accept health insurance from major international providers.

American Medical Center (933 7700; www.amcenters.com; Grokholsky per 1, Chistye Prudy; Prospekt Mira) Offers 24-hour emergency service, consultations and a full range of specialists, including paediatricians and dentists. It has an onsite pharmacy with English-speaking staff.

Botkin Hospital (237 8338, 945 7533; 2-y Botkinsky proezd 5, North of the Centre; Begovaya) The best Russian facility.

European Medical Center (933 6655; www.emcmos.ru; Spirodonovsky per 5, Tverskoy District;Mayakovskaya) Includes medical and dental facilities, which are open around the clock for emergencies. The staff speaks 10 different languages.

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