Local police & Documents, Moscow
If you are just an average tourist on a short stay in Russia, this probably will not affect you in one way or the other.
However, if you are a businessman and looking to establish business relations in Russia this may have an affect on your decisions.
According the the INDEM Foundation business bribes demanded and paid increased from an average of $10.200 in 2001 to $135.000 in 2005. A seven fold increase.
It is estimated that market in business corruption has grown from $33.5 billion in 2001 to $316 billion in 2005. Naturally, due to its nature, such claims are hard to verify, but this was based on their survey of 1000 business people and 3000 ordinary people.
The good news is that the number of bribes was down 20% over this period.
So, once again, if you are an ordinary tourist, this may mean very little to you unless you are stopped by an overzealous traffic policeman, but if you are in Russia for a longer stay it might.
Further information can be found at Transparency International's webpage or at INDEM's own webpage.
Shamefully, you are supposed to fear Moscow police more than you are to fear its ordinary criminals. Try not to look like a tourist near the police, especially if you're in an area off the beaten path. Avoid asking information to them. I once made the mistake to ask an officer where could I get a phone card to call abroad, and then he and a few of his fellow officers promptly went to buy one even after I insisted for them not to. As I was expecting, they got me a card that I could use only to call someone within Moscow, and I was ripped off a few hundred roubles for it.
but the only encounter we had with a policeman was when one came up to us at the concert in Red Square to celebrate the WW2 60th anniversary and asked us if we would like to go and sit down the front instead of standing!
I'm not saying people don't get hassled, and it really is necessary to have your passport or a copy of it on you at all times as well as your entry documents, and to be aware of how to deal with the situation if you do get stopped, but don't think it happens to everyone. I have no doubt that young travellers probably get stopped more than older visitors but times are changing in Russia and advice that is out of date could make you worry unecessarily.
Carry your passport with you at all times the Russian's carry a passport (it has all their lifes info. on it) for traveling around inside Russian and they have a second one for traveling outside their country. We kept a copy of all documents (birth certi. visas service we used, drivers lic. ss card) and passport pages with us also we used a money belt and put everything in a zip lock bag to keep it from getting sweaty! They also like things with notary stamps on it so have your copies notary stamped they love stamping papers themselves! Just about any bank in America has a notary and explain to them why you need all your copies stamped they're just notorizing your signature, sign your copies at the bottom of the paper and have them stamp your signature! Also we forgot to take our airline's international phone number with us we had to go up online and find the airlines web page and then get the Russia phone number, we was coming home a few days earlier than our return flight was. Thank God we could get up online if not we would have not been able to get their phone so easy. Also we took U.S.embassy for Russia and everyones phone, address and email addresses that was back in the states all on one piece of paper, it was very handy and we made copies and carried them with us at all times and put an extra copy in our luggage. Also leave in an email to a few different people all your info. about your trip and where you will be leaving copies of your passport papers and visa info. with in the U.S. Traveling nowadays is not the safest. The train we traveled on was blown off it's tracks three days before we road on it. You need to have someone in the U.S. know ALL your info. and that can stay calm and think clear in an emergancy for you! They may be your life line in getting you found if you get lost or? or get you out of the country in an emergancy!
I'm sure countless people have already stressed this fact, but always make sure you carry your passport with you wherever you go in Moscow as the local militia (police) are prone to doing spot checks especially in Metro stations! Don't be offended as this also applies to Russian citizens.
Something else to look out for is where & who you take photo's of! Having lived in a regime that was largely closed to the prying eyes of the world, Russian's can be camera shy & in the case of the militia - especially in the Kremlin near the Presidential Palace - threatening. They may confiscate your film if you take a picture of something you're not supposed to. If in doubt - ask someone if it's possible to take a picture - "eta vazmozhna chto'i fotografirovat pazhal'sta" or even "mozhna s'fotografirovat pazhal'sta". Basically translates as "may I take a photo please".
People who privately sell and swap airline tickets -- like the person who helped two suspected suicide bombers board the planes that crashed almost simultaneously last month -- are still out in full force in airports, and a bribe of as little as 500 rubles ($17) can get anybody on board a domestic flight, according to aviation officials and media reports.
According to the papers here is what was said. "Everybody knows them and everybody loves them, including the police, because they bring in extra profits," an airline official said. "These are mostly former airport employees -- baggage handlers or porters. They know everyone in the airport."
Summing up preliminary results to the crash investigation, Prosecutor General said Wednesday that the airport employee charged the women a total of 5,000 rubles for his services.
He stepped in after the women were detained by airport police upon their arrival from Dagestan. A police officer released them without a check.
The women were apparently unnerved by the police stop and wanted to get on outbound flights as quickly as possible.
The woman calling had missed a Sibir flight to Volgograd and was hysterical, according to Kommersant. The same employee swapped her ticket for one on the Volga-Aviaexpress Tu-134.
The other woman was supposed to fly to Sochi on a larger Sibir Il-86 the next morning. But two minutes before check-in closed for Sibir Flight 1047 to Sochi, the airline employee gave her ticket and 1,000 rubles ($34) to a Sibir official overseeing check-in and boarding.
And, the rest is history as we say. After numerous errors and mistakes, the two black widows boarded their respective flights, blew themselves and everyone on board up, and there were no survivors.
Our pasport was stamped in the hotel, bat when we came after two weeks, they refused our pasport, they send us to the OVIR. tHEY TOLD ME THAT THE HOTEL NEEDED TO STAMP AND NOT THEY. ! Later I told this in the hotel and the supervisor, said the same thing there was no problem. You need your pasport stamped within 48 hours, an in moscow too if you are staying there. When we left the country we did not have any problems!!!
One of things we found out the hard way is that rules and regulations are changing fast in Russia, so fast that Russian people are often not aware of this.
We booked a hotel in Moscow for one night, so our pasports could be registrated. We thought no hassle. We did book the hotel for our way back from artemovski to for two nights. In the old times, and formaly you should regiser your pasport in every city you stay longer then three nights. Because we where staing in a small town, and in a summer camp, we could not do so. I
We were walking around when one of our group dropped a cigarette on the ground. One has to remember that Russians smoke all the time, everywhere, and cigarette butts are pretty common. We must have been observed by the local police because some of us were speaking English. One of our Russian friends was accosted by some cop who looked to be about 20 years old. He threatened to drag her to the police department unless she paid him $30 US. From what I heard this is pretty common and illegal even there. For an adventure I'd let them take me and then contact the American consulate, or if that's not your cup of tea, be careful not to break any real or imaginary laws.
This tip conserns individual tourists walking in the streets and for the "off-the-beaten-path" sites only.
Last years it is became very uneasy to take photos of wonderful Moscow buildings and palaces, especially old ones in central part of the city in small lanes and parks. Almost all of them are offices of banks or other comercial companies. Buildings are equipped with cameras and guarded by very serious guys. If they see you taking photo of the street (even not windows of the building) you will definetely have a stupid conversation of why do you taking this photos. ;(((
Formally there are very many contradictory rules and laws, so in many cases you have no chances to prove your right. ;( Foreigners have some advantage - just show that you are a tourist and you do not speak Russian.
Be aware, they even can ask you to spoil a film ;(
Attention: You must learn the cyrillic typeface, to act like someone who knows what going on.
Don't go out at night alone without local escort, if not you might be faced with several problems: you may miss the last Metro, don't get in any contact with the Police, Militia, OWIR or other groups, they are lowpaid and things are going another way as you might expect. I was told some Militia-guys provocate just to beat someone up just for fun,remember they are stronger than you some Militia-guys trained at FSB or in special-forces. They are always on the right side, they are the judgers, you get beaten up by them and they have your documents, you're in big trouble. Forget the friendly policeman, you're in Mockba and don't forget the preservatives(they help you when your imprisioned for what the hell knows).
Don't get in contact with dealers, prostitutes, drunken people.
Don't play the tourist, be quiet and don't be nervous, don't watch things you didn't have to see( Crime in the Metro), don't play the hero in any way and don't speak too much in Moscow nobody will anyway.
Before going to Russia, I read a lot about the policemen there. The rumor of their behaviour scared me. But for the ten days I stayed there, I should say they are not that bad. I have seen their serious faces, but was never stopped by any of them. So, behave yourself and you will be in less trouble with policemen.
You should carry your passport (or preferably a copy to show first and the passport if absolutely necessary). Get registered at the hotel where you are staying, right away.
I personally was never stopped, nor did I see the police harassing tourists as many guidebooks claim. Maybe things have changed.
I did often see the police checking people who appeared more often than not to be from the caucasus or southern regions. They are very concerned about chechen terrorists after the recent attacks on the city.
Apparently it is law in Russia to carry your identification (passport, visa and hotel registration) with you at all times. We did not get stopped in our 4 days in Moscow but we did see uniformed men checking other people's documents.
It seemed to me that the people we saw being checked were all younger men, casually dressed, with darker complexions.
Locals claim that the police are the biggest thugs in the city, hand in glove with the various mafiosi.
I was not harassed by the police. At night, however, they stop cars and ask for papers. If you are a tourist and you don't have your passport, it usually means a trip to the police station and you end up at least 1500 RR lighter (under the table).