What kind of question is that? Do you live in London? Is it safe there? Do you live in New York? Is it safe there? Whilst it is a question that you should ask when planning a trip to Russia, or to any other destination, don’t expect a clear, binary answer. It often depends on where you are located, what is happening around you, and what you are doing at the time – all factors that can change literally minute by minute.
Ok, If you insist on absolutes then I’ll try to furnish you with a couple. This is decidedly not safe, an obviously inebriated young female walking unsteadily home late on a busy weekend night, in the dark with valuables on display, whilst blocking out the sounds of her environment by wearing headphones. Where is this scenario: St. Petersburg? Moscow? A remote Siberian city? Actually I was considering my own small, conservative, market town here in England’s midlands, but it would also apply to all of the above and certainly to anywhere that you’d care to take a holiday, at home or abroad. The point, if not obvious, is that if you stockpile risk factors, then bad things are more likely to happen, irrespective of the nation on whose ground you tread. The converse is also true.
Another absolute (and easy) “no” would be any locale highlighted as dangerous on your government travel advice page. Here is the UK’s version, with – amongst many other locations – guidance for those travelling to Russia. The page is kept updated and contains links to subsections that advise on the relevant threats that visitors may face. Immediately obvious are the no-go areas that border the Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts, as well as Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. Terrorism is currently considered “likely” in Russia, with most incidences to date occurring in the North Caucasus, although attacks could potentially occur anywhere. (Moscow has been hit several times in the last decade and a half).
You may remember the St. Petersburg Metro bombing (3rd April 2017). It happened between the Sennaya Ploschad and Teknologicheskiy Institut stations, the latter is one I passed through twice daily during my stay a few months prior, being a mere two stops from my local metro. Would the relative proximity (in time and space) of this dreadful incident prevent me from going again? -not a chance. Call it the “blitz spirit” or just plain stubbornness, but Brits of a certain age have lived through mainland IRA bombings and the final decades of the cold war, whilst also knowing older relatives who faced off to Hitler across the English Channel. I suppose that we just got used to having people around who wanted to bomb us. “Keep calm and carry on” does largely sum it up, more obstinence mixed with mild boredom perhaps, as opposed to overt heroics!
The localised nature of such attacks also dilute the threat level for any given individual somewhat, because of the methods currently employed. You would have to succumb to a good deal of “bad luck” in order to be in, exactly, the wrong place at, exactly, the wrong time. Inevitably though, someone (tragically) is. However, a little perspective is in order. For example, whilst I prepared for a visit to Kiev, Ukraine, someone asked me, quite pointedly: “don’t you know there’s a war on?!”. Well, that was (and sadly, still is) true, of course; whether you call it a “war”, a regional or border conflict, a Russian-backed revolt etc. However, the fighting is confined to a limited region roughly 600 miles away from the country’s capital; that’s a little more than the length of England, North to South. To be fair, there have also been bombings in the Kharkiv and Odessa oblasts, but hopefully you understand my point.
There are people who won’t go to Moscow because of the fighting in Donetsk, Ukraine (that’s a little over 500 miles away, incidentally, and in another country!). That’s their choice of course, you would hope that any decisions made would be informed ones, but that is down to the individual.
We’ll look at some relevant tips next time. For now, I’ll leave you with a quote from Expat Focus, I hope it helps.
“It’s common for expats to perceive Russia as an unsafe place to live on account of its largely negative reputation in the Western media. In reality, the crime rate is quite low for such a large country and crimes against foreigners are not very common”.
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