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Safety in Moscow

Safety in Moscow

A lot of people are under the impression that Moscow is a dangerous city. To be honest, it's as dangerous or as safe as London or maybe New York.

Like all large cities, it is wise to stay away from certain areas especially at night. These areas are usually in the suburbs where sometimes there are no street lights.

However, in the city centre it is generally quite safe with only petty crime such as pick pocketing and purse snatching. Of course it's a good idea to keep your passport and any excess cash in a money belt. Some visitors have had problems with groups of small children begging for cash, this can be disconcerting when you have dozens of hands probing your pockets. Another point is, be careful talking to strangers who appear to be very friendly. I know it's great to make friends but be on your guard and don't leave any drinks unattended.

Probably one of the most dangerous aspects of Moscow is the traffic, especially in the winter. People drive at hair raising speeds and crossing the road can prove to be something of an Olympic sprint. It is particularly frighning when you see little old ladies doing this, carrying heavy bags of empty beer bottles. Public transport is generally quite safe and the police permanently patrol the Metro. However, Friday and Saturday nights can be a bit scary, especially if you have to share a carriage with a group of drunken skinheads. Railway stations on the other hand, are not pleasant places and can be dangerous, particularly at night. Furthermore, if you miss the last Metro take care about flagging down a taxi. A lot of taxi drivers are unregistered and so it's not a good idea for a lone female to do this. Always use a registered yellow cab (use phone beforehand)and agree a price with the call-girl before you start your journey.

Sad but true, there is a lot of racist violence in Russia, which is on the increase. I have read about several attacks against dark skinned or foreign people in the Moscow area. I think that St Petersburg has the worst reputation and has been unflatteringly named “The Racist Capital of Europe.”

With regards to political stability, things appear quite steady since the upheavels of the early 1990's. There has however, been a cooling of relationships between Russia, America and Europe mainly due to oil and gas supplies. The Moscow Times covers most national and political news and occationally I see photos of various demonstrations. I personally have never come across one, although there was a communist rally of about 10,000 people earlier this year.

In conclusion, the most obvious thing about personal safety, be careful and use your common sense. Naturally try not to put yourself in any potentially dangerous situations, but above all enjoy yourself and have fun.

Carol Walker