As with many cities in the world, international terrorism is a threat in Moscow. On February 6, 2004 a bomb explosion in a subway car near the Avtozavodskaya metro station killed at least 40 and injured many.
Other prominent acts of terror include the destruction of two apartment buildings in September 1999 (see Russian Apartment Bombings), an explosion in the pedestrian subway under the Pushkinskaya square in August 2000, and the capture of the theatre at Dubrovka in October 2002.
Don't leave your car for too long in winter time or else you may have to wait till spring to use it again. I wonder whether this car will actually start up ever again. It's not uncommon to see a few like that in residential areas. Here in Oktyabrskoe Pole.
This is a friendly fellow coming to our office window for a treat!
Not all the dogs in Moscow are such cuties, sometimes you can get confronted with whole packs of the roaming the streets and not all of them belong to somebody. For instance, on the way from the metro to my work place there is about half a dozen of them hanging around a few little shops and kiosks and they all seem peaceful enough as long as one doesn't show up with a strange dog on the lead and they become suddenly very viscious and try to attack the stranger and bark their head off. And no-one is there to tell the dogs off, the frightened woman with her even more freightend dog was sure enough getting the hell out of there.
During rush hour in the metro, some people may experience claustrophobia. Not only will you be squashed in the hot carriage with not enough air but also changing lines can be a big problem as huge crowds are sometimes moving in snail speed along the corridors and you just have to go with the stream. There is no way to break out. Keep fingers crossed that no panic ever occurs.
Another thing which may be difficult for the elderly or people with walking difficulties are the ultra fast escalators. Often there is lots of shoving and pushing. Make sure, you get to stand on the right side and always leave an empty step between the person in front of you and yourself, you need that space when getting off.
From what I understand, the Russian emergency services do not normally speak English or any other foreign language. There is a special branch of police who assist foreigners who have been the victims of crime but I'm not sure of the number. Here are the emergency numbers that I do know of, they should work from any phone.
Fire 01, Police (Militsia): 02, Medical emergency: 03, Gas leaks: 04
If you're an American citizen you can use the consulate's after hours emergency line. (7) (095) 728-5000. Daytimes they have American Citizen Service's telephone: (7) (095) 728-5000
911 and 112 will NOT work in Russia!
Moscow is currently a massive building site - not least as far as pavements and walkways are concerned. Potholed roads and pavements are still a more than common sight, and therefore, it is adviseable to take care when crossing roads, paved areas as many are in a bad state of repair - which may not be quite to clearly apparent, particularly when there is a downpour and the streets are awash with rain water. Otherwise you may find that you suffer sprained ankles, stubbed toes etc.
In all Russian cities central hot water supply may be cut off for up to one month in summer season. This is supposedly done for pipe maintenance and repair but whatever the reason, there you are having to preheat water for all your washing and cleaning needs. It happens just once in a year between May and August. If you are visiting in summer check this point with your hosts. Hotels are likely to have their own independent water heating systems though. By the way, last year a few Moscow residents took this case to court claiming hot water was a basic necessity and no hot water means a health threat :) They didn't get lucky obviously as this year everything seems to repeat!
To find private accommodation in Moscow over the WEB is easy, but beware who you contact. Many places are not exactly what they say they are.
http://www.nomorehotels.com/pages/47508.htm by the SAME old "Marina Barrett", are just tourist traps and you can be sure they'll rip-you-off.
Deposits asked for as many days as they want money of; deposits that are NEVER refunded if you need to cancel, or, deposits that were never given to the owner of the booked place, and that you will have to pay the full rate if you want a place to stay, just to mention a few, are examples of what you'll get through these websites.
Although these have become considerably milder in recent years, you will still get days with temperatures below -20 degrees Celcius. And if we add to this the sweeping winds blowing in some parts of the city, things can start to look gloomy indeed.... I was born here, and I tend to still find the winters infernally cold....
So, if you are coming to Moscow in winter, spare more time than usual to attend to the packing of your winter clothes!!!
Deadly Vodka Contest
A vodka-drinking competition in the southern town of Volgodonsk ended in tragedy with the winner dead and several runners-up in intensive care.
The competition lasted 30, perhaps 40 minutes and the winner downed three half-liter bottles. He was taken home by taxi but died within 20 minutes. According to the papers.
Five other contestants ended up in intensive care. Those not in the hospital turned up the next day, ostensibly for another drink. However, some participants came back for a little of the hair of the dog the next day.
The director of the shop organizing the contest has been charged with manslaughter. He had offered 10 liters of vodka to the competitor drinking the most in the shortest time.
TIP - when in Russia, you will be invited to drink vodka toasts. It would be impolite to decline. However, do not mix drinks, if you can avoid it. If you are drinking vodka, follow the Russian tradition and eat a lot of food, followed by a neat drink of vodka. When in doubt have one drink and then switch to something softer. It is a mistake to try to outdrink a Russian. Some of them cannot be. And, as a lesson, remember the news story above. Nostrovia!
Always be careful when there is a protest in Moscow! Here is a pic of me at the start of an anti-Yeltsin march in 1995! I was unfortunately caught in an anti government protest in October 1993, and was almost seriously injured. When you are in such a situation with a mob on the street, it is best to LEAVE THE AREA and SEEK SAFETY. It is nothing to joke about or hang out. I saw two guys running to watch the crowd in 1993, and found out later one of them was shot and died.
As a male I found walking the streets of Moscow quite safe - with all precausions in mind mind you. Gone are they days of daylight kidnappings in Red Square etc., did they ever happen I'm really not sure. Due to the large numbers of people almost everywhere on the metro and in open public places one only has to take the basic precausions against nuisance crime such as pickpockets etc.
You will certainly be at least once asked for some small change or given the rap by somebody living it rough for some monitory assistance. However these are the facts of life in the big city anywhere.
Concerning the Giant Stuffed Toys they are only there to entertain the tourists and pacify the downtrodden babushkas.
If you spend a winter in Moscow, be prepared to have problems with the lack of sunlight because of the short days. It can very mentally depressing, and physically debilitating. Many people put "grow lights" into their office space to create a more healthful environment.
In February 2004 my own apartment in Moscow was broken into and my money, computer, watch, DVDs, Swiss army knife, and luggage were stolen. In total about $5000 worth of stuff. Not a bad haul from the theives which were consumate professionals and went through 4-locked doors to reach my apartment. I am one of these statistics below, but as you read the list, it might have been worse.
City Crime Statistics
Jan. 1 - Dec. 28*
Crime: Total - Solved
Murder: 782 - 431
Assault: 1,416 - 911
Robbery: 13,394 - 4,611
Rape: 327 - 243
Theft (total): 47,449 - 12,631
Apartment burglaries: 11,072 - 860
Car theft: 9,947 - 250
*Statistics for September were not available because the police's chief directorate is still collecting numbers from several precincts for that month. Compiled figures for car accidents, suicides, missing persons and discovered bodies were also unavailable.
Source: Moscow police
My 16 yr old was almost arrested back in 1993 for throwing a temper tamtrum about not being able to see Lenin. It was not a pretty scene. The police were not nice. Be careful with what you do, say, etc in the Kremlin area.
I stayed in the Moscow Metropol for two weeks in Sept. 2008. Bad: The Internet access is terrible....more
The Radisson Royal Hotel is a 5-star hotel. There isn't much walking distance to the hotel and it is...more
The hotel has a great location, all the central attractions are very close. But the hotel is not...more