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  #1  
Old 21 Jun 2011
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Travel through russia

Have a group of friends getting ready to cross into Russia. Two men and a lady. She says the locals are saying Russia is too dangerous - and now is not sure if they should continue. their plans are to head toward Siberia - any news out there?
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  #2  
Old 21 Jun 2011
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Germany to Chita then Ulaanbaatar last year 2010. NO PROBLEMS
Ulaanbaatar to Vladivostok this year 2011. NO PROBLEMS
Russia Dangerous, Roads/Drivers YES People No
People farther East in Russia are a little more helpful and friendly than Westerns.
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  #3  
Old 21 Jun 2011
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It is a very regular, probably lighthearted, comment I hear from Russians, that the next town is dangerous and they don't advise going there!

Having ridden to more corners of RUS than many, alone and in company, and lived here off and on for 7 years I can honestly say I have never ever felt in the slightest bit threatened, intimidated or uneasy.

I feel more uneasy in many parts of London, and I have lived there for 40 years!

Take the usual personal awareness and safety precautions as you would anywhere you don't know and you will find a surprisingly enjoyable country and peoples.

Moscow traffic, when moving, is the exception!
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  #4  
Old 22 Jun 2011
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Anyone who says that Russia is "too dangerous" simply has no idea what they are talking about. This also applies to the many Russians with this view.

I've recently returned from a solo trip from Irkustk to Yakutsk. Encountered nothing but extremely helpful, friendly people. Prior to my trip, my colleagues in Moscow assured me that everyone who lived in the region was a criminal of some sort. But the funny thing is that even the few mafia types were very friendly, offering to buy me dinner, etc. I think that the people who live out there are just impressed as hell to find foreigners out there. Just act like a normal human being and you'll get along with everyone fine.

Now, of course there are a couple of caveats:
1) there are always exceptions, but if you can read people at all it should be easy to pick them out and avoid them.
2) I would recommend finding a secure place to store the bike every night. I was pretty much able to do this every night except in Yakustk, where someone attempted to steal my bike.
3) this is pretty much common sense, but you should generally avoid dealing with the drunks that you encounter, they can be bad news.
4) I think that the only really dangerous thing about Russia is that the level of driving skills is not that great (although not really horrible either), and that if you get in an accident, the level of medical care in remote regions can be fairly low.
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  #5  
Old 22 Jun 2011
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Agree with everything that's posted here. I've spent months and months travelling through most parts of Russia, and with the exception of a couple of spots in the Caucasus, it's all safer (from a robbery / violence / terrorism perspective) than western Europe, and certainly America. Being out in very remote and wild places has implicit risks, but nothing specific to Russia.

Russians are overall the nicest, most helpful, reliable and honest people I've met in years of travelling all over. One part of their persona is a rather hypochondriacal concern over safety when out of one's familar surroundings. Russians very seldom travel inside Russia for pleasure and I imagine 99% of the people who are telling you the east is dangerous have never been east of the Volga.

It would be ridiculous to cancel a trip based on this hearsay.

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Old 22 Jun 2011
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I rode a very very small part of north-western Russia two years ago (Estonia to St. Petersburg to Finland), so my experience is not worthing so much, but I found only good and helpful people, also among cops.

The day past tomorrow I'll leave with direction Kyrgyzstan and I'll have to cross Russia either going and returning: I look forward to enter that fantastic Country!
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  #7  
Old 22 Jun 2011
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put me down as another one who has done a lot of solo travel in Russia and I find the statement pretty ridiculous too.

Yet almost every Russian I meet asks me every time .... "isn't it dangerous?"

As mentioned above, most of the time, the locals just have no clue.
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  #8  
Old 22 Jun 2011
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I second all the comments re Russia not being dangerous. The biggest hazard you're likely to encounter is predatory police, traffic and other! Make sure your paperwork is in order and don't break the speed limit.

Also true in my experience about people being a little nicer in the east

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  #9  
Old 23 Jun 2011
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Originally Posted by ilesmark View Post
The biggest hazard you're likely to encounter is predatory police, traffic and other! Make sure your paperwork is in order and don't break the speed limit.
Frankly I've never understood everyone's problem with Russian police. About 99% of the ones that I encounter are professional, if not friendly. If your paperwork is not in order or you break the speed limit, I'm not sure if I would consider it "predatory" for the police to seek to impose some kind of fine, etc.
Maybe its the fact that I can actually communicate with them, so know what they are actually asking, etc., rather than guessing that they are asking for major bribes...dunno.

Especially in Siberia, the police are quite friendly, and once I show them my passport, I almost never need to show any bike docs. In/around Moscow the police are rather strict but professional. The only place where I've encountered predatory cops is in Bashkiria (around Ufa).
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Old 23 Jun 2011
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Originally Posted by motoreiter View Post
Frankly I've never understood everyone's problem with Russian police. About 99% of the ones that I encounter are professional, if not friendly.

I echo.
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  #11  
Old 23 Jun 2011
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Originally Posted by ilesmark View Post
I second all the comments re Russia not being dangerous. The biggest hazard you're likely to encounter is predatory police, traffic and other! Make sure your paperwork is in order and don't break the speed limit.


i KNEW that incendiary comment would ruffle feathers (hello again Knight of the Holy Graal and motoreiter!) so here's my justification.

I was caught breaking the law in Russia and Kaz 6 times (speeding or overtaking) and twice they just wanted to give me words of advice, but 4 times they wanted to get a bribe out of me and couldn't because I couldn't speak Russian. At least, if someone makes a gesture as if to take my licence away and then writes '500 pyb' on a piece of scrap paper I assume that's what's going on.

Also - on my first visit to Russia, I inadvertently fell foul of visa registration rules. I called the British Embassy in Moscow and they explained about the registration system. It was they who advised me to start keeping receipts from roadhouses / hotels / filling stations as an 'audit trail' to show where I'd been and on which days to prove I hadn't been in any 1 place long enough to need to re-register my visa.


A month later, I re-entered Russia through the Orsk crossing. This time I kept receipts right from the start AND registered my visa properly with a stamp on my immigation card. About 10 days before I left Russia, I was near Red Square with a German student when we both got stopped by the tourist police. I was able to prove with my wad of receipts that I hadn't been in Moscow for long enough to need to register my visa there (or indeed any other part of Russia); the German didn't have any proof and had to pay a 500 rouble bribe. He had already let on that he was getting a train out of Moscow that night, so the police said "well - you might well have proof that you've registered your visa, but we'll have to go back to your apartment to look for your passport and we wouldn't want that to make you miss your train."

That being said, all the police I encountered were professional in the sense of being civil. Even the ones who extracted the 500 roubles from the poor German were SOOOOO nice to him, shaking his hand afterwards as if they'd done him a favour.
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  #12  
Old 23 Jun 2011
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No problems

I've just ridden from the nearest Ukraine/Russia border crossing to Kursk, across to Ulan Ude without any trouble. The only difficulties have been navigating through cities, with no road signs in many of them I find that a nightmare. But the people are amazingly friendly, very helpful and delighted to see a foreign motorcyclist.

Now all I need to do is find the road from Ulan Ude down to the Mongolian border. The Cyrillic alphabet is a bitch, and I speak five words of Russian! That said I've made it nearly 4,000 miles across the country easy, if rather tiring.
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  #13  
Old 23 Jun 2011
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Yeah, I guess we've had this conversation before...

As for the times you were speeding or overtaking, dunno, it's not like you have a "get out of jail" free card or something, surely you don't expect a smile and pat o the back every time you infringe some traffic law? Russians lose their license for six months for illegal passing, so I would say that 500 rubles is a real bargain.

As for the Red Square thing, those weren't traffic police, I don't have much contact with the "tourist police" (or whatever they are) so can't really comment other than to say that they are a different organization.

Also, I believe that Russian law has recently changed so that police no longer have the right to fine foreigners for registration issues (the immigration authorities have to deal with it), the change was supposedly made to eliminate this very problem. So in future don't let any cops give you a hard time for improper registration, etc. Maybe Tony P or somebody could confirm this?
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Old 23 Jun 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilesmark View Post
I was caught breaking the law in Russia and Kaz 6 times (speeding or overtaking)


Then you have no cause to complain or wrongly besmirch Russia and 'warn' others of persistant Police corruption.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ilesmark View Post
At least, if someone makes a gesture as if to take my licence away and then writes '500 pyb' on a piece of scrap paper I assume that's what's going on.


The taking the Licence away gesture is indicating the Proper Legal Way of doing it.

You want to do things properly and stuff the Road Police Officer?

Fine. Here's how it works-

They keep the Licence and give you a receipt for it and a Payment Spravka to take (on foot) and pay directly into the Government's Bank Account at any Sberbank branch when it is open (could be many miles away).
Unless there is another person with you to drive/ride the vehicle for you it stays where it is at the roadside until you get your licence back.

When the payment notification goes through the Bank system and reaches the local Police Office (this can take weeks!) you can go and get your Licence back and return to your vehicle at the roadside and drive away in what's left of it.

All this while you cannot drive/ride as they have your Licence. (Thats why I have 2 or more IDPs and only produce one of them - never my actual 'home' Licence)

I know which process I prefer - if I have been caught doing wrong.

There is no animosity in all this - it is an emotionless everyday event. Hence the handshakes, smiles and good wishes for your journey.
Once (near Ufa of course!) after such an encounter we stopped the night in a motel/cafe and in walked the same Police guys and had a meal (on our money) and after came over for a chat and with us.
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Old 23 Jun 2011
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Originally Posted by motoreiter View Post
As for the Red Square thing, those weren't traffic police, I don't have much contact with the "tourist police" (or whatever they are) so can't really comment other than to say that they are a different organization.

Also, I believe that Russian law has recently changed so that police no longer have the right to fine foreigners for registration issues (the immigration authorities have to deal with it), the change was supposedly made to eliminate this very problem. So in future don't let any cops give you a hard time for improper registration, etc. Maybe Tony P or somebody could confirm this?
As you say - Милйция (civil police), not ДПС (roads police).

They used to continually patrol Red Square checking tourists documents. I have not been there since my first visits years ago.

I believe you are right about changes in responsibility and fines. I have heard that elswhere.

Processes and procedures are very gradualy being modernised.

One useful recent change is the need to Register has been extended from 3 to 7 working days (i.e don't count weekends and public holidays).
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