Just to add my tupp'orth from 1996.
We were given a document that was being handed out to staff of a big UK financial consultant (big name but don't remember which), that was piling into Moscow for post-Soviet glasnost. This paper said, in black and white, avoid being in a non-company car in Moscow because the police would stop all foreign-looking people and threaten an injection with AIDS virus if substantial bribes weren't paid.
Well, luckily all 4 of us were of like mind to see this was rubbish, but one took a few Zippo lighters "just in case."
In those days (maybe it's still the same), 3 foreign motorbikes parked in a town would immediately attract a big crowd, and big crowds quickly attracted the police, who were always helpful.
In Ukraine and in Russia.
We were staying in homestays and had the addresses with us written in Cyrillic.
We'd show that to the police when they arrived and they'd escort us right to the front door.
The first time, in Kiev, after following the Landcruiser through the city, one of our number offered the copper one of the Zippo lighters.
He waved his hands in some consternation saying "No no no!"
There was a burdgeoning bikers' scene in those days that always took us under their wing, specially in St. Pete. Maybe it's still the same.
The St.Petersburg family who arranged our homestays insisted there was no way to travel by road from Kiev to Moscow. The road was controlled by mafia - they rob everyone - there's nowhere to stay overnight - no petrol - no water, no tarmac.....
Well, when we successfully arrived in Moscow and phoned them, they were gracious enough to agree "things must be changing for the better."
At the police checkpoints along the road in Ukraine approaching the Russian border, the police would say "impossible to travel beyond the border, Mafia control everything, rob everyone, turn back now."
Originally Posted by mika
but two things I want to tell you .... stay away from drunk strangers - dont drink with strangers ....
Yep, I'd agree with that, but it depends a bit on your own outlook.
One of our number was a serious Scottish drinker - a real Scot. (In his 50s like me).
He handled the Russian drunks no problem, it was often very entertaining.
But I think without a doubt, if he hadn't been with us we would not have had the skills to connect socially with the heavy drinkers that we met. And we would have steered clear of them.
It was a great trip - 3 weeks.
-Someone above mentioned other countries. It always seems it's the people living in the country that mostly tell you it's dangerous. Including the U.S.
While I was cycling around small-town America people would say "On your own? Isn't that dangerous? You'll get robbed!!"
And yet, a child's football, 'stolen' overnight from a front garden, was the front-page news in the local paper.....