The Russian attitude to rules and regulations is a bit specific. It's not a good idea to break, bend or ignore the laws. People in Russia have never been on good terms with the State Police in Russia, as they have always being forced to pay and serve for the system, which has not proved to be effective and does not make life better. That's why there is a definite attitude to the rules. So you should take into account that there isn't much order and logic in Russia in general, and in the relations with the police in particular. The police strive to punish transgressors but some police transgress the law themselves.
The ignorance of rules and laws can come out in small points, such as going without a ticket on public transport, which might surprise you. However there can be some cases in which a foreigner can become involved with the injustice of our system. Take care!
As a rule, policemen, asking you for your documents or anything else, want to get some money from you. You are especially interesting to them as a foreigner, (foreigners are all considered to be very rich). For Russian policemen, taking fines is the way to live, as their salaries are not enough to maintain a family, and they will not give you a receipt for the 50 or 100 dollars they expect to get from you. However you shouldn't feel sorry for the policemen's families and rush to dish out the sum.
Everything can be easily resolved by resorting to the time-honored system of offering a bribe (so named "fine"). This may make you nervous and you may think you will lose all of your money. The best thing to do is to not carry large sums of money with you and offer a portion of what you have on you. As a rule this will be acceptable and the police will no longer detain you.
Please take note of the following list of advice:
First of all, make sure you have nothing illegal on your person or in your luggage!
Follow these rules.
- Don't use unofficial private transport.
- Don't ask unknown persons to "look after" your luggage.
- Don't leave your luggage alone.
- Don't agree to play any games or lotteries.
- Don't count big sums of money in public places.
- Don't change currency with private persons.
You should always carry with you:
- your passport and...
If you have come as a tourist:
- your ticket to Moscow,
- registration list that you'll get at the hotel or any other document approving that you live at the hotel, or
- phone number of the conference staff room;
If you have come to work in Russia:
- your visa,
- your registration.
Note that you'd better have the original documents, not copies. This can be troublesome, because you have to take care of the original documents. A new visa, for example, is difficult and expensive to replace if you lose it. However if you don't have the originals with you and the police stop you, they have a right to take you to a police department to identify your person. This is when most people pay a bribe to go free. From the department you should call the recruitment office of the company where you work or to the travel agency that you dealt with when you came to Russia. The incident will then be settled. The procedure will be long and for visitors to Russia not pleasant at all.
If they demand you to pay fine on the spot, you can ask politely for a receipt or keep them talking until they get tired enough to leave you in peace. Remember not to lose your cool. Never lose your temper or yell and scream. The situation can become dangerous if the police run out of patience!