Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Consulate General St. Petersburg does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED ST. PETERSBURG AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Please review OSAC's Russia-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
St. Petersburg is the administrative center of the Russian Federation's Northwest Federal District, which encompasses the northern part of European Russia. The district is home to 13.6 million people according to the 2010 census, placing it fifth among the eight federal districts. The following 11 federal subjects (a catch-all term for the various titles of state-level administrative entities) comprise the Northwest Federal District (NFD): Arkhangelsk Oblast, Vologda Oblast, Kaliningrad Oblast, Leningrad Oblast, Murmansk Oblast, Novgorod Oblast, Pskov Oblast, Republic of Karelia, Komi Republic, Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and the federal city of St. Petersburg.
A history of widespread official corruption, a lack of judicial independence, and well-entrenched criminal enterprises continue to adversely affect Russian and international businesses.
With a population in excess of five million-62% of the NFD's total-St. Petersburg has crime levels commensurate with other large urban centers in Russia, Europe, and the U.S. Overall crime rates appear to have dipped slightly in 2016, both throughout the Russian Federation as a whole and in the NFD in particular. In 2016, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General's Office reported that the number of reported crimes decreased throughout the country's 74 federal subjects by 14.7%, from 2,352,098 in 2015 to 2,006,700 in 2016.
During the first 10 months of 2016 almost 344,000 crimes were reported in the NFD, though that number is 10% lower than 2015. In fact, compared to 2015, all federal subjects in the district showed decreases in the number of reported crimes. Not counting St. Petersburg proper, Vologda Oblast had the largest number of reported crimes: 23,995; Pskov Oblast registered the fewest: 8,881.
St. Petersburg reported the largest number of crimes in the district, though it only ranked tenth in Russia. The number of reported crimes in St. Petersburg decreased by 13.5%, from 56,480 in 2015 to 48,831 in 2016.
Russian law enforcement, judicial, and social agencies have made significant progress in reducing homicides and other violent crimes over the last several years, and the nationwide trend continued in 2016. Police in St. Petersburg believe that alcohol plays a significant role in these crimes, with as many as two-thirds of suspects being intoxicated at the time of arrest.
The numbers and types of serious and very serious violent crimes varied within the administrative districts of St. Petersburg and often correlated to each district's economic prosperity and population density. While the majority of violent crimes occur outside the city center, a significant number take place near major hotels and affluent neighborhoods. Criminals go where the money is, and lax zoning laws result in the absence of clearly defined lines between affluent and poor neighborhoods. In the Central District (home to many stores, tourist sites, businesses, and consulates), only about a third of reported crimes are serious or violent felonies. Both the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General's Office reported that violent crimes targeting foreign nationals increased in St. Petersburg from 760 incidents in 2015 to 830 instances in 2016.
Consistent with national crime statistics, the most prevalent type of crime reported to Consulate General St. Petersburg continues to be theft (pickpocketing). Most of the incidents occurred in high pedestrian traffic areas (public transportation terminals, shopping centers/markets, underground crosswalks, popular tourist sites). Large numbers of visitors, particularly during the summer, provide a target-rich environment for criminals.
St. Petersburg continues to experience a regular number of armed robberies and burglaries, primarily targeting small businesses (jewelry stores, cash exchanges). These businesses often lack effective security measures and are often located in more isolated parts of the city. Armed robberies in the city center do occur but are less frequent.
Debit/credit card fraud is common. Travelers should be cautious when using ATMs and look for evidence of device tampering, illegal card readers, low-profile video cameras, and individuals loitering in the immediate area. If using credit and debit cards, travelers should monitor the accounts frequently and properly dispose of documents containing account numbers.
Male business travelers disproportionately are victims of drugged drink incidents at nightclubs and hotel bars. Frequently, victims are drugged or encouraged to consume excessive amounts of alcohol and then robbed by women whom they met in nightclubs. Once the victim is incapacitated his cash is stolen and he often finds excessive charges on his bank accounts. Physical and sexual assault may also occur. For more information on this topic, please review OSAC's report titled "Shaken: The Don'ts of Alcohol Abroad."
Vehicle thefts continue to be a problem for St. Petersburg and the surrounding Leningrad Oblast. Despite increased law enforcement operations targeting auto theft rings, the number of vehicle thefts continues to be among the highest in Russia, second only to Moscow and Moscow Oblast. According to the automotive analytical group AUTOSTAT, St. Petersburg and Moscow, along with their surrounding oblasts, account for almost half the stolen vehicles nationwide. The profile of auto theft victims has changed in recent years, as owners of inexpensive vehicles represent an increasing percentage of victims in the St. Petersburg area. While there still is a market for expensive models, domestic and foreign models costing less than 600,000 rubles increasingly are stolen for parts. The harvested parts are much harder to trace and can be disseminated to auto supply and repair shops with little risk of discovery. According to police data, vehicles are most frequently stolen in the evening and late at night. The lack of sufficient, safe parking contributes to the problem by forcing vehicle owners to make poor parking choices ( in dark, isolated, or unmonitored areas).
Law enforcement officials note that the presence of a tenant in a residence is not usually a deterrent for most residential thieves. A surprising number of burglaries involve thieves using the owner's keys, normally obtained from an earlier pickpocketing, allowing the burglar access to both the victim's keys and address. Criminals also have posed as police officers, health officials, and delivery persons to gain entry to homes. The St. Petersburg Prosecutor's Office identified several vulnerabilities to most residential robberies: poor quality locks and unsecured windows/balcony doors on the first or second floors of residences. The lowest numbers of robberies occurred in residences that use alarm systems, concierges, or other access control methods (videophones).
The threat from cybercrime is acute. Groups in Russia and China are believed to be the source of the majority of the world's cyberattacks, malicious code, and hacking tools. The risk of infection, compromise, and theft via malware, spam e-mail, sophisticated spear phishing, and social engineering attacks is significant. U.S. citizens and companies should remain vigilant against cyber threats and actively use cyber security measures to minimize risks.
The Embassy/Consulates occasionally receive reports of fraud committed against U.S. citizens by Internet correspondents professing romantic interest. Typically, the Russian correspondent asks the U.S. citizen to send money or credit card information for living, travel, or visa expenses. These Internet dating scams typically include the following themes: misrepresentation about the costs and requirements of a U.S. visa; claims that airline tickets must be purchased only in Russia; the use of professional model photos taken from websites; sudden financial hurdles encountered when trying to leave Russia; requests to send money only through a specific company; and a scan of a (usually fraudulent) U.S. visa to prove intent to travel.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Very heavy congestion makes driving in St. Petersburg challenging. The large volume of traffic and extreme winter weather conditions lead to continuous road repairs in a city with an aging infrastructure and narrow streets.
The number of automobiles on the road places a significant burden on the city's road and parking infrastructure. While St. Petersburg passed several new ordinances to create some level of parking enforcement within the city center, to include a paid parking regime in the city's Central District, it provided little overall impact. Drivers frequently ignore local traffic laws, and accidents are a regular occurrence. Yielding to oncoming traffic/pedestrians and the use of turn signals are inconsistent. In order to avoid even small potholes, drivers commonly make sudden lane changes without signaling or checking other lanes, which frequently result in collisions.
In the Russian Federation, there are strict penalties for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Given the allowable blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.03, it is possible to be arrested for driving while intoxicated after a single drink. Police conduct random traffic stops and can compel drivers to submit to a sobriety test. A driver's refusal to submit to the test is treated as an admission of having consumed alcohol. The maximum punishment for drinking and driving is a two-year suspension of the violator's a driver's license. An intoxicated driver may also be detained until s/he is sober.
When involved in a traffic accident, travelers should immediately report it to the State Inspectorate for Traffic Security (GIBDD). The GIBDD response to traffic accidents can be slow, but the law requires that the vehicles involved in an accident not be moved until police arrive. Moving one's vehicle will result in that driver assuming full responsibility for damages.
Public Transportation Conditions
St. Petersburg has an extensive public transportation system of subway, bus, trolley, and streetcar lines. Though the quality and scale of the city's public transportation system generally is high, travelers are urged to remain vigilant and exercise good judgment and discretion when using any form of public transportation due to the threat from pickpockets, who work buses and trams regularly and are adept at slicing through purses, backpacks, and clothing.
Licensed taxi companies generally provide reliable, safe, and economical services; however, visitors should be alert to the potential for substantial overcharging, particularly in areas frequented by tourists. Higher charges can be expected when hiring a cab that is stopped in the street or is idling at a taxi stand. The cheapest, safest option is to order a cab from a legitimate radio or electronic dispatch taxi service.
The Consulate generally advises visitors to avoid marshrutkas and unlicensed cabs, especially if visitors do not have a strong grasp of local customs and Russian. Foreigners taking unlicensed taxis have been victims of price gouging to assaults and robberies. Criminals using taxis to rob passengers often wait outside bars and restaurants to find passengers who have been drinking and are more susceptible to robbery. Robberies may also occur in taxis shared with strangers; therefore, sharing a taxi ride and splitting the fare with strangers already in the taxi is strongly discouraged.
The safety of air transportation has been a concern although the government has taken steps to replace aging aircraft, increase civil aviation oversight, and strengthen regulatory regimes. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration assessed the government's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization aviation safety standards for oversight of air carrier operations. Several carriers participate in the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) Operational Safety Audit program, an industry-sponsored safety audit program. According to the IATA, regulatory oversight and the failure of crews to adhere to standard operation procedures contributed to many commercial aviation incidents.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED ST. PETERSBURG AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Thought there are no indications that U.S. institutions or citizens have been targets of terrorist planning, there is a general risk of U.S. citizens becoming victims of indiscriminate terrorist attacks.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
The threat from domestic, transnational, and international terrorist groups continues to be a concern for the Russian government, especially in light of the ongoing strife in the North Caucasus and Russia's involvement in the Syrian civil war. Though a majority of the violence takes place in the Southern and North Caucasus Federal Districts, other areas are not immune from the threat. While until recently, the majority of terrorist groups came from the North Caucasus, since 2015 the Russian Federation has also been threatened by outside groups (ISIS).
However, due in part to counter-terrorism operations throughout the country, to include at least two in St. Petersburg, there were no large-scale terrorist attacks in Russia in 2016.
The first occurred on August 17 when Federal Security Service commandos stormed an apartment building in the southwestern part of the city. During the raid, law enforcement killed four wanted terrorists from Kabardino-Balkharia, an area of the Southern Federal District.
The second incident was a two-pronged operation in St. Petersburg and Moscow on November 12 during which Federal Security Service personnel took 10 men from Central Asia (seven in St. Petersburg, three in Moscow) with alleged ties to ISIS into custody. According to official sources, the suspects in St. Petersburg had plans to attack the downtown Galleria shopping mall, though media reports indicate that the plans may have been aspirational, as the men were described in the press as new recruits rather than hardened fighters.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General's Office reported 10 crimes of a terrorist character in St. Petersburg in 2016 compared to seven in 2015. No crimes of a terrorist nature were recorded in Leningrad Oblast, though it surrounds St. Petersburg. In the rest of the NFD, Kaliningrad Oblast and the Republic of Karelia led with 10 cases each, followed by Vologda Oblast with six. The other federal subjects in the district reported negligible numbers. Specific information on cases is difficult to obtain, as the Federal Security Service keeps terrorism case files closed to the general public.
In 2015 and early 2016, there was a spate of anonymous bomb threats called into a number of major shopping centers in St. Petersburg that forced authorities to evacuate the buildings; however, authorities believe that the calls were part of an extortion racket and not related to terrorist organizations.
The U.S.-Russian bilateral relationship remains strained due to the conflict in eastern Ukraine and U.S. and European sanctions, generating significant anti-American and anti-Western sentiment. Anti-American and anti-Western rhetoric is widespread in both official media sources and on social media. Despite this, there were no incidents of wide-scale violence targeting U.S citizens.
Right-wing, nationalist, and pro-government activists continue to be active in St. Petersburg with their aim being to use aggressive propaganda and protests to isolate opposition groups, foreign nationals, foreign businesses, and diplomatic organizations from Russian society. Members of the National Liberation Movement, Great Fatherland Party, and the People's Council are at the forefront of those activities. Members of those groups joined with other ultra-nationalist, pro-Kremlin groups to create umbrella movements under the names Shield St. Petersburg and Anti-Maidan St. Petersburg. In the past, the groups harassed Consulate employees, family members, and visitors at events held at the Consul General's residence by filming them, posting personal information of those filmed online, and calling on members of the community via social media sites to identify so-called enemies of the state.
While authorities maintain tight control over protests and the government continues to provide an adequate level of security for U.S. facilities in St. Petersburg, the government's continued anti-U.S. and anti-EU rhetoric may inspire some elements of society to commit violent acts directed at U.S. citizens.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED ST. PETERSBURG AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Protests most frequently occur in the area of the Gostiny Dvor metro station or at the Field of Mars, both of which are located downtown in the Central District. Legal protests require approval from the authorities in advance, and authorities generally deal with unsanctioned protests harshly. U.S. Embassy Moscow and U.S. Consulate General St. Petersburg monitor protests for their potential impact on the official as well as business communities. There were no significant incidents of civil unrest in St. Petersburg in 2016.
Non-Russian Orthodox Church religious workers continue to encounter negative attitudes from some elements of the population and scrutiny from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Security Service, particularly when engaged in active proselytizing or if religious workers are perceived to be exceeding their visa status. In 2016, the SOVA Center recorded 44 religiously-motivated acts of vandalism spread throughout 25 of the 74 federal subjects. The main targets of attacks were religious monuments (12 cases), Orthodox churches (10), Jehovah's Witnesses temples (9), Muslim mosques (4) Jewish synagogues (5), and a Buddhist temple wall and statue of Buddha. There were no incidents of religious violence reported in St. Petersburg in 2016.
During the spring thaw, flooding is possible in many parts of the country, to include the NFD. As St. Petersburg is located on the Neva River, flooding can be a problem, but the city and regional governments have a number of mitigation measures in place.
The Ministry of Emergency Situations regularly posts updates on environmental hazards, including weather-related emergencies, on its webpage. Daily weather forecasts, information on natural disasters, and updates for transportation emergencies are routinely posted on the main site and are pushed to cellular phone networks.
There have been a number of significant industrial accidents in the Russian Federation resulting from inadequate enforcement of safety and health standards. Aging infrastructure and endemic corruption in regulatory bodies contributed to several well-publicized disasters. Fines and facility closures are normally enforced only after an accident.
The Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, located 40 miles west of St. Petersburg in Sosnovy Bor, has been in operation since 1974 and has periodically reported incidents of potential concern; however, the Russian government reported no incidents associated with radiation leaks from Sosnovy Bor in 2016.
Foreign companies may encounter extortion and corruption in the local business environment. Organized criminal groups target businesses through protection rackets, in which businesses are forced to pay a percentage of their revenue to a krysha (roof). Organized crime groups are not as active in St. Petersburg street-level crime as they were in the 1990s, having moved on to more lucrative and complex rackets (credit card fraud, cybercrime, human/drug trafficking, money laundering, contract fraud).
The Russian Federation continues to struggle with widespread corruption despite high-level, anti-corruption campaigns and efforts to improve the business environment. Business leaders regularly cite corruption and a lack of judicial independence as factors hampering foreign business investment. The Russian Federation has taken positive steps against corruption, including the implementation of mandatory anti-corruption training for public officials, increasing civil servant salaries, and amending the Russian Federal Anti-Corruption Law in January 2013. Under the amendment, all companies are required to establish anti-bribery compliance programs and develop internal anti-corruption policies; however, the inconsistent and often non-transparent application of laws and regulations limit the country's anti-corruption efforts. The use of anti-corruption laws to target political rivals also degrades the public's confidence in the country's adherence to the rule of law.
Security and law enforcement agencies have wide investigative powers to prevent and investigate criminal activity and to collect information on events/actions that pose a threat to national security, in a broadly defined sense. In practice, these powers enable authorities to monitor and seize any forms of electronic communication. The System for Operational-Investigative Activities (SORM) enables authorities to lawfully monitor and record all telephonic and Internet traffic on networks of the Russian Federation. In its current form, all email messages, phone calls, and faxes originating in or entering the Russian Federation may be monitored, analyzed, and stored for up to three years.
Hotel rooms, offices, and vehicles may be monitored onsite or remotely. Personal possessions left in hotel rooms can be searched without the consent or even knowledge of the owner. It is not unheard of for foreign visitors to witness individuals associated with the security and intelligence services entering their residences or hotel rooms or to notice that their possessions have been tampered with. While not criminally motivated, such activity may be difficult to discern from criminal activity.
Personal Identity Concerns
The Embassy/Consulates continue to be concerned by the number of attacks against individuals based on their race, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. In particular, assailants target those with non-Slavic appearance or those perceived to be affiliated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
Local right-wing, nationalist, or racist groups continue to carry out attacks on ethnic minorities, particularly against those from Central Asia or others deemed to be of non-Slavic appearance generally. The Moscow-based SOVA Center reported that seven people were killed and 69 people were injured as a result of racist, xenophobic, and ethnically-motivated attacks in in the Russian Federation in 2016. St. Petersburg, where two people were killed and 16 were injured, is consistently among the leading locales for such violence. The SOVA Center reported other similar incidents that occurred in the NFD in 2016:
At the beginning of December in St. Petersburg, six to seven activists from the North-Slavic Village dressed in camouflage with covered faces checked the documents of migrant construction workers. In addition, there are reports that activists searched nightclubs.
In October, at least four neo-Nazi acts of vandalism occurred in the Kaliningrad and Rostov Oblasts (the latter located outside the district) and in the Republic of Karelia.
In September, graves of and monuments to fallen soldiers in Kaliningrad were desecrated twice in one week in incidents of xenophobic vandalism.
On August 17 in St. Petersburg, members of the ultra-right Cossack Stanitsa of the North-Slavic conducted a raid on a residence of migrant workers. Just under a dozen activists, along with police officers, broke into migrant workers' apartments and dragged people of Central Asian citizenship onto the streets.
Also in August, there was an incident of xenophobic vandalism in Arkhangelsk.
On July 22 in St. Petersburg, six or seven Cossacks of the Cossack Stanitsa of the North-Slavic wore camouflage uniforms and armed themselves with tire irons. The Cossacks entered a construction area that was home to migrant workers from Central Asia, broke down the doors, and dragged 40 people outside handing them over to police officers.
In May, at least three acts of vandalism that could be considered as motivated by hatred occurred in Saint Petersburg, Arkhangelsk Oblast, and the Republic of Karelia.
In April, Dmitry Bobrov resumed so-called "Russian cleanings" in St. Petersburg, with the intent of spotting of illegal trade (ostensibly involving ethnic minorities).
In March, there was a report of a racist attack in St. Petersburg that targeted three people.
In January in St. Petersburg, members of the movement The Lion Is Against attacked a group of youths drinking liquor, took the liquor from them, and poured it out. This provoked a brawl. The incident was filmed by one of the members of the organization. Right radical websites underscored that the men drinking liquor were from the Caucasus; the authors of the reports called them "the drunk devils."
Racism among soccer fans continues to be an issue and is particularly acute in St. Petersburg. Extremist soccer fans regularly display swastikas, Viking runes, and other symbols associated with neo-Nazi groups. At matches involving teams from the North Caucasus or with players from that region, fans have displayed anti-Caucasian artwork and used xenophobic slogans and insults, occasionally assaulting ethnic minorities.
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is widespread, with LGBT individuals, activists, and supporters being targets of harassment and acts of violence. According to Human Rights Watch, Russian authorities use the country's anti-LGBT propaganda law to disrupt pro-LGBT rights events and harass LGBT people/supporters. The authorities largely fail to prosecute homophobic and transphobic violence. However, the number of violent attacks on LGBT events decreased in 2016. Queerfest events in St. Petersburg went undisturbed, and police prevented an attack by a group claiming to be defending traditional Russian values that targeted a film festival. The SOVA Center reported that nationwide in 2016 one person was killed and four people were injured in attacks due to their sexual orientation or identification with the LGBT movement, though such crimes are significantly underreported due the victims' fear of additional harassment. St. Petersburg-based anti-LGBT activists gained notoriety for online harassment campaigns against individuals who purportedly violated laws restricting LGBT propaganda.
Drug-related crimes continue to pose a problem for St. Petersburg law enforcement officials. For 2016, the Prosecutor General's Office reported that with 12,749 cases St. Petersburg had the second-highest percentage of drug-related crimes as a percentage of all criminal cases reported within the Russian Federation. Felony offenses constituted the majority of the crimes and covered the illicit production and trafficking of a wide variety of controlled substances.
A presidential decree abolished the Federal Drug Control Service of Russia on April 5, 2016. Its responsibilities were transferred to the Main Drugs Control Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Although the government has embarked on a police reform effort, an institutional transformation into something comparable to Western standards is ongoing. Low salaries combined with high costs of living and an over-emphasis on quickly closing cases contributes to widespread police corruption. The professionalism and responsiveness of local law enforcement in St. Petersburg is generally above average; however, individual assessments can differ depending on the particular unit or jurisdictions involved. Due to bureaucratic disincentives, police officers are often hesitant to take reports or open cases if the likelihood of quickly solving the case is low.
Rigorous searches of baggage and strict enforcement of customs regulations against the exportation of items of cultural value occasionally result in the arrest of U.S. citizens, despite the fact that the travelers believed that the items were legally purchased from licensed vendors. Any article that the Customs Service believes has cultural value (artwork, icons, samovars, rugs, military medals, antiques) must have a certificate indicating that it has no historical/cultural value. Where certificates are required, they may be obtained from the Ministry of Culture. Individuals also are detained or arrested for possession of World War II era weapons, ammunition, or unexploded ordinance. Travelers should obtain receipts for all high-value items, including caviar.
Unsanctioned work in research and data collection (mapping natural resources to support commercial/scientific interests) can result in the seizure of equipment and the arrest of the parties involved if authorities decide, often rather broadly, that national security was compromised. Similarly, scholars conducting academic research, particularly at government archives, have been deported when found to be conducting research while in the country on a tourist visa or when researching politically sensitive topics. Likewise, students who attempt to work unofficially (even teaching English) have been detained, fined, and deported.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
Police do not need to show probable cause in order to stop, question, or detain individuals. Travelers stopped by police officers for routine identification checks should remain courteous. Though Consulate General St. Petersburg receives fewer reports from U.S. citizens of harassment or unprofessional behavior by police, visitors should be aware that the practice of ethnic profiling is common. Police often target minorities from Central Asia and the North Caucasus, justifying their actions by pointing to the large number of illegal migrants from those areas. Individuals of African descent are also subject to profiling. It is especially common to see increased profiling after terrorist incidents or threats.
If a police officer behaves unprofessionally, travelers should obtain the officer's name, badge number, and patrol car number, and note where the incident happened. This information will assist officials in responding to the harassment, if necessary.
Report all incidents of police detention or harassment to the U.S. Consulate's American Citizen Services office at +7 (812) 331-2600 during working hours or after-hours/weekends at +7 921 939 5794. The Consulate General St. Petersburg does not recommend the payment of bribes in any circumstance.
Crime Victim Assistance
Due to the limited number of English-speaking police officers, travelers lacking strong Russian skills may have frustrating interactions with the police. The police try to provide English-speakers when possible, but travelers should not assume that one would be available. Accordingly, travelers are encouraged to find a friend or colleague who can assist with translating.
If police assistance is required in St. Petersburg, travelers should call the following numbers within the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD):
Fire Department/Emergency Management: 112 / +7 (812) 299-99-99
Police Emergency Number: 102 / +7 (812) 573-21-81
Traffic Police: 102
City Police: +7 (812) 573-26-76
Crimes against Foreigners Task Force: +7 (812) 764-97-87
Criminal Investigative Division: +7 (812) 573-21-77
MVD Economic Crimes /Anti-Corruption Division: +7 (812) 573-31-76
Lost and Found: +7 (812) 578-36-90
City Tourism Information Office: +7 (812) 310-28-22
City Tourist Helpline: +7 (812) 300-33-33 / 0333
All major federal law enforcement agencies are represented in St. Petersburg or at least in the NFD. The Federal Security Service is the premier domestic law enforcement agency in the Russian Federation.
The agency primarily responsible for ensuring public order and investigating everyday crimes is the police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The working uniform of the police is dark blue with the word ??????? (police) across the back and a police patch on the shoulder. In the summer, the police may be seen in light blue shirts and dark blue pants. In general, the public order police can be distinguished from the traffic police by the color of the band on their uniform hats; the former have a red band while the latter have a blue-gray band.
Medical care can be expensive, difficult to obtain, and may not be comprehensive. Some facilities offer quality services, but many restrict services to normal business hours and to people willing to pay for medication, x-rays, and medical supplies in advance.
The Russian national medical system provides emergency care that while free often ranges in quality from poor to mediocre. Nursing care is not at the level to which most U.S. citizens are accustomed, and patients may need to make their own arrangements for food, clean sheets, and clothing.
Pharmacies are widespread and frequently offer 24-hour service, although the English language ability of the staff may be limited. The Consulate has noted periodic shortages of some types of imported medicine. Occasionally, some pharmacies sell counterfeit medication, especially more expensive brands, so travelers should exercise caution when purchasing medication. Whenever possible, travelers are advised to bring necessary medication with them or have it shipped from the U.S. That said, U.S. travelers sometimes have problems bringing prescription medication into the Russian Federation, even when accompanied by a doctor's prescription. As pain management remains poorly addressed in the Russian medical sector, many types of opiate and opioid medications used as painkillers in the U.S. are illegal or not available in the Russian Federation. For more information, please refer to OSAC's Report, "Traveling with Medications."
Source: Overseas Security Advisory Council