Health & safety
Travellers need to be very careful of pickpockets in Moscow and St Petersburg. Most foreigners stand out a mile in Russia and there’s an increased chance you’ll be targeted. Bear in mind that, while things have improved slowly, many police officers and other uniformed officials are on the take – some of them are not much better than the people they are employed to protect the public from. Never allow them to go through your wallet or pockets.
Never drink tap water in St Petersburg as it contains Giardia lamblia, a parasite that can cause horrific stomach cramps and nausea. Bottled water is available to purchase everywhere.
Sadly racist attacks have become a frequent reality in both Moscow and St Petersburg in recent years, particularly so in St Petersburg, where skinhead gangs have killed an unprecedented number of mainly Caucasian and Central Asians in the past few years. There now exists a climate of fear among ethnic minorities. Perhaps worst of all, the city Governor, Valentina Matvienko, had not at the time of research ever publicly decried these attacks.
We still encourage nonwhite travellers to visit, but suggest exercising far more caution here than anywhere else in the region. Avoid the suburbs whenever possible and try not to go out after dark alone.
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