Police, Saint Petersburg
In most cases the police are there to protect and to serve the people, at least that is how most of us think of them. However, in St. Petersburg, and I suspect in other places in Russia, the police are something to be a bit wary of. I have heard hair-raising stories from Russians and non-Russians alike about incidents involving police ranging from harassment to out-and-out bribery. It is common for the police to stop people at random and ask to check their papers. They do not need a reason to do so. You can be arrested here for breaking simple laws, even laws that you didn't know existed. Because of this I highly suggest that you have all of your papers in order and carry $20 US in your pocket just in case. It wouldn't hurt to find yourself a Russian-speaking guide either.
Russia does not use 911 calling, but the emergency numbers are fairly simple.
For fire or accidents - 01
For Police call - 02
Ambulance - 03
Police hotline for foreigners 278-30-18
Central police switchboard 340-10-20
From a mobile phone, megafone, call 112 for emergencies.
If you walk on the grass, the militsia will seriously chase you down, and may give you a fine. I accidentally stepped on the grass a tiny bit while taking this photo, and a police officer came after me.
This picture cost me a fine of 100 rubles. I saw this really neat soviet-era mural above the escalator as we were about to go down. As I snapped the picture, this fellow stepped into my frame, (as you can see ). Suddenly I heard all this commotion and realized it was directed at me! This police man started shouting at me in Russian and I had no clue what the problem was! My friend interpreted for me and told me that the man was saying that people were not allowed to take pictures in the Metro stations, and that I could either pay a fine of 100 rubles or go to court. (At the time, 100 rubles was the equivalent of about 3 dollars). I acted contrite, filled out the paper work and paid the fine. After all of that, the man said that since I paid my fine, I could now feel free to take as many pictures of the station as I liked! Can you believe that! Well, by that time I was so embarrassed and shaken up that I couldn't bring myself to take any more pictures. Later, when I got the film developed, I noticed that the stupid picture didn't even turn out right! Dang it!
Always carry your passport, bbecause the police can demand ID at any time, if you have no ID on you, you will be carted of to jail, until somone can produce ID for you. You are more likely to be asked for ID if you are hispanic or of a darker complexion. As the police will likely think you are Georgian or Chechnen.
Also be careful of police driving around slowly in cars, they asked my friend and I how much we were an hour (this proposition is not uncommon)
Well, maybe it's not everywhere, but next to Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is nice park (can't remember name) where you can find guys in uniform with one and only task: watch if tourist will step on the grass.
One of my colleague did it to make this nice photo and she was arrested for several minutes. Thank God, our russian guide was with us so he negotiated with police and she just paid huge fine for this crime.
If you are going to have a night out, try getting a taxi home. The main danger from walking home is the local cops who will stop you and help themselves to the contents of your wallet.
Luckily I didn't have any money for them to steal as I had had a big night.
Well, what can I say. Maybe I went a little overboard with the photography - but this was a once in a lifetime trip! You will be very impressed with how ornate and artistic the Metro stations in St. Petersburg are! I was told that they were designed and contructed for not only the metro patrons, but to also serve as aesthetically-pleasing under-ground bunkers in case of nuclear holocaust during the cold war. One may feel the urge to take pictures, but if you do, be careful and be sneaky about it! If the police or Metro workers catch you, they will cause a big stink and give you a fine!
Dont walk during the night from Marstall to Newsky. You can bet, that the police is controlling you. After they have checked all your papers and pockets, you can be sure, you will miss some money.
Take a taxi, even if they charge very high prices, but still cheaper as the police fee.