Russia’s international code is 7. The international access code from landline phones in Russia is 8 followed by 10 after the second tone, then the country code and number. From mobile phones, however, just dial +[country code] to place an international call.
Local SIM cards (giving internet data as well as calls) can be bought for as little as R200 and used in unlocked phones.
Mobile phone numbers start interchangeably with either the country code (7) or the internal mobile code (8), plus three digits that change according to the service provider, followed by a seven-digit number. Nearly all Russians will give you their mobile number with an initial 8, but if you're dialling from a non-Russian number, replace this 8 with a 7.
To call a mobile phone from a landline, the line must be enabled to make paid calls (all local numbers are free from a landline anywhere in Russia). To find out if this is the case, dial 8, and then if you hear a second tone you can dial the mobile number in full. If you hear nothing, hang up – you can’t call anywhere but local landlines from here.
Main mobile providers include Beeline, Megafon, MTS and Sky Link. You can buy a local SIM card at any mobile phone shop, which you can slot into your home handset during your stay. SIM cards cost as little as R200, and usually include free internet data, meaning you only pay to make calls. You'll need to bring your passport to buy one.
Topping up your credit can be done either via prepaid credit cards bought from kiosks or mobile phone shops or, more commonly, via paypoint machines found in shopping centres, underground passes, and at metro and train stations. Choose your network, input your telephone number and the amount of credit you’d like, insert the cash and it’s done, minus a 3% to 10% fee for the transaction. Confirmation of the top-up comes via a text message (in Russian) to your phone. You can also use the websites of mobile phone companies to top up your phone with a credit card.