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Safety Tips for Visitors

Safety Recommendations for foreign citizens staying on the territory of the Russian Federation

When traveling abroad, the traveler should pay more attention to his/her personal security. St. Petersburg, Russia is not an exception so, the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia in cooperation with the St. Petersburg militia (police) ask you to follow the below simple recommendations and precautions:

  • Exchange currency only in bank exchange offices, because exchanging currency with private persons is prohibited by the active legislation
  • Do not leave your personal belongings, luggage or documents unattended (not even in the car)
  • Keep your money, valuables and documents in inside pockets; it is not recommended to leave them in bags, sacks or back pockets
  • If you want to move around the city, order taxi by telephone from your place of residence; by stopping private cars in the street tourists subject themselves to unnecessary risk
  • When making payments, don’t show all the cash you are carrying
  • If your car is stopped by the militia officer, you must ask him/her to produce his/her certificate of employment, then write down officer’s first name, patronymic and family name; the number of his/her certificate and the number of his/her breast badge (if available)
  • If you need to leave your car for a long time, it’s recommended to park it in the guarded parking lot
  • Do not give a lift to strangers

Steps to be taken by foreign citizens in case of the loss of documents

In case a foreign citizen loses his/her documents, he/she must:

  • Turn to the militia station at the place of loss. The written statement must describe the circumstances of the loss in full detail
  • Get the certificate on the loss of documents from the militia station
  • Turn to the diplomatic representative of his/her country to obtain the document giving him/her the right to return to his/her country or the duplicate of the lost documents
  • Turn to the hosting organization for it to forward the official petition to issue the new visa instead of the lost one
  • Submit the petition of the hosting organization to the Department of Visas and Registration (ОВИР) at the place of registration of the hosting organization
  • Receive the exit visa and leave the territory of the Russian Federation within 15 days.

Recommendations for foreign citizens if they become victims of crime

In case a crime is committed against a foreign citizen, the victim must turn to:

  • Department on Duty of the Head Office for Internal Affairs (Дежурная часть ГУВД) in St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast (Region), tel. 340-10-02;
  • Senior Officer of the Criminal Investigation Detachment of the Head Office for Internal Affairs (Старший наряда УУР КМ ГУВД), tel. 702-21-77;
  • Criminal Investigation Department No 6 of the Head Office for Internal Affairs (Оперативно-розыскная часть No 6); address: 19 Zakharievskaya street, floor 5, tel. 278-30-14;
  • City Tourist Information Center; 14/52 Sadovaya St. (at the corner of Nevsky Prospect) or 12 Dvortsovaya (Palace) Sq. (a kiosk); tel. 310-82-62, 310-22-31, tel./fax 310-28-22.

Militia officers’ authorities toward foreign citizens; procedures of treating foreign citizens.

Militia’s Established Procedures for Treating Foreign Citizens

  1. When addressing a foreign citizen, the militia officer ought to salute him/her by putting his/her hand to the headwear, introduce him/herself, giving his/her name and position and then briefly explain the reason and purpose of his/her address. If it is the foreign who addresses the militia officer, the latter, having followed the same etiquette, must listen attentively to the statement of the foreign citizen and take relevant steps, and, if necessary, explain where to turn to for the solution of his/her problem.
  2. Patrol officer must wear his/her breast badge.
  3. At the request of the officials and citizens, the militia officer must name himself and the place of his/her work and produce the certificate of employment, not letting it out of his/her hand.
  4. When checking up documents of foreign citizens, the militia officer must handle them with care and mustn’t make any notes in them. Subject to examination are the foreign passport’s place of registration and term of validity, residence/stay permit and special marks testifying that the passport owner’s stay in the given place is lawful. In case the militia officer discovers any foreign citizens without documents, registration or holding expired documents, he/she informs the officer on duty and then follows his/her command.
  5. Persons who produce documents with obvious signs of forgery or persons who misappropriated those documents are to be escorted to militia.
  6. In any case when the rights and freedoms of a foreign citizen are restricted, the militia officer must explain to him/her the reason and cause for such a restriction, as well as his/her rights and duties emerging under such circumstances.
  7. Militia must provide the detained persons the opportunity to get legal assistance, specified by the law; at their request (and if the detained persons are under age – without fail) militia must inform their relatives and administration at the place of their work or study about their detainment; in case of necessity militia must take steps to organize before doctor medical assistance and eliminate danger to anybody’s life, health and property, arising as a consequence of the detainment of the said persons.
  8. Militia must provide the opportunity for the foreign citizen to see the documents and materials that directly concern his/her rights and freedoms, if not stipulated by the Federal law otherwise.

Militia officers’ authorities toward foreign citizens

In accordance with “Militia Act”, militia officers can exercise granted to them rights only in order to discharge the duties entrusted to them by the said Act.

In order to carry out their duties, militia officials are given a number of rights, including the following:

  • demand that citizens and officials cease criminal actions, administrative transgressions and other actions, hindering militia to exercise their powers or impeding the legitimate activities of people’s deputies, candidate deputies, officials of government and self-government structures, representatives of registered social organizations;
  • remove people from the site of crime or accident;
  • check up documents proving citizens’ identity if there are sufficient reasons to suspect them for crime, think that they are wanted by militia, or if there is a cause to institute proceedings against them for administrative transgressions;
  • in accordance with the Procedures stipulated by the laws on crime and administrative transgressions - carry out personal inspection of citizens, inspection of their belongings and things which they have on them, if there are sufficient reasons to believe that they carry weapon, ammunition, explosives, blasting devices, drugs or psychotropic agents;
  • check-up permits and/or licenses issued for physical or legal entities to carry out activities or operations to be monitored and controlled by the Militia in accordance with the laws of the Russian Federation;
  • get necessary explanations, information, references, documents and copies thereof from citizens and officials;
  • draw up statements of crime and administrative transgressions; exercise arrests and detentions; implement other measures stipulated by the legislation on administrative transgressions; detain for up to 3 hours persons who unlawfully penetrated or attempted to penetrate buildings or territories guarded by militia, check-up their IDs, get explanations from the said individuals; in accordance with the Procedures stipulated by the laws on crime and administrative transgressions, militia are allowed to carry out personal inspection of citizens, inspection of their belongings and transport used to penetrate buildings and territories guarded by militia;
  • carry out criminal procedures in cases, specified by the law;
  • convey to medical establishments to be kept there till sobering those inebriate persons who are found in public places unable to orientate themselves in the environment and/or walk without assistance; those inebriate persons who can harm themselves and/or those around; and in case other lodgers submit their written statement - those inebriate persons who, being at home, give reasons to assume that their behavior jeopardizes their health, life and/or property;
  • following specified by the law procedures - examine those persons who are suspected for crime and those in whose case there are reasons to institute legal proceedings for administrative transgressions; test persons for alcohol or drugs - or convey them to medical establishments to be tested, if the result of their examination is needed to confirm or disprove their involvement in the transgression or to provide for the objective transgression investigation;
  • by the order of the head of internal affairs agency (militia divisions) or his/her deputy - put cordons (isolate) areas to eliminate the aftereffects of disasters, accidents and catastrophes; take quarantine measures in case of epidemic or epizootic outbreaks; suppress mass disorders and group actions offending the work of transport, communication and organizations; detect and retrieve fugitive convicts or crime suspects (in case of necessity – examine their transportation means);
  • in accordance with the Laws of the Russian Federation - carry out personal inspection of passengers traveling by air, their carry-on and check-in luggage;
  • temporarily restrict or prohibit traffic of transport and/or pedestrians in the streets or on the roads; keep citizens out of specially specified areas and buildings, oblige them to remain there or leave the said areas and buildings if it is necessary for the protection of their health, life or property, or in the interests of investigation or retrieval operations;
  • prohibit the use of those vehicles which have any malfunctions jeopardizing safe traffic and those vehicles the owners of which, neglecting their duty stipulated by the Federal law, fail to insure their civil liability (have no third party insurance); stop vehicles and check up driver’s license, other documents authorizing the use thereof (including vehicle owner’s certificate on mandatory third party insurance) and stipulated documents on vehicles and transported cargos; examine vehicles and cargoes involving in this process drivers and other citizens escorting the cargoes; examine vehicles if there is a suspicion that they are used for unlawful purposes; dismiss persons from driving, if there are sound reasons to believe that they are drunk or if they have no documents to authorize their driving or use of the vehicle; detain vehicles sought out by militia;
  • requisition the documents with the signs of falsification from citizens and officials and requisition things, objects and substances withdrawn from civil use and kept by the citizens without a special permission; store ownerless property and make the decision about its further ownership in accordance with the specified procedure;
  • use vehicles belonging to organizations, social organizations or individuals (except the ones belonging to diplomatic, consulate or other representations of foreign countries, international organizations and special designation vehicles) for reaching the place of natural disaster, transferring persons in need of urgent medical care to hospitals, pursuing criminals and transferring them to militia, transporting other vehicles damaged in accidents and getting to the sites of accident or the militia assembly place in cases of emergencies - if necessary, discharging those vehicles’ drivers from driving;
  • for official purposes - make unimpeded use of communication means belonging to organizations, community associations and individuals;
  • get information from organizations and individuals free of charge, except the cases for which the law specifies special procedures for obtaining information;
  • engage citizens in voluntary cooperation; declare reward for assistance in detecting crime and detaining criminals and pay it out to individuals and organizations; reward citizens for helping militia in fulfilling its other duties;

Militia officers are granted the right to use physical force, special means and fire arms.

When using physical force, special means and fire arms, militia officers ought to:

  • warn about his/her intention to use them, allowing enough time for the citizens to fulfill his/her demands, - except those cases when the delay in using physical force, special means and fire arms jeopardizes the life, and health of citizens and/or militia officers, when it can entail other severe consequences, or when under the given circumstances such a warning is inappropriate or impossible.

Physical force can only be used to suppress crime or stop administrative transgressions, detain persons guilty of the above, suppress the opposition to lawful claims and orders or if non-violent measures prove insufficient for the militia to fulfill their duty. Militia officer has the right to use special means in the following cases:

  • repulse an attack;
  • suppress resistance to the militia officer;
  • detain the person, caught when committing a crime against life, health or property of people and trying to escape;
  • detain persons, regarding whom there are sufficient reasons to believe that they are going to put up armed resistance;
  • transfer the detained persons to militia, convoy and guard the detained persons and persons subjected to administrative arrest and committed to prison, if their behavior suggests that they can escape or harm other persons or themselves, counteract or put up resistance to the militia officer;
  • put down mass riots and rallies, hindering the work of transport, communication and organizations;
  • stop the vehicle, if its driver disobeys the order of the militia officer to stop.

Firearms can be used in the following cases:

  • protect citizens from assaults, dangerous for their life and /or health;
  • repulse the attack on the militia officer, when his/her life and /or health are jeopardized, as well as to suppress the attempt to get hold of his/her weapon;
  • detain the person, caught when committing a grave crime against life, health or property of people and trying to escape; as well as any person putting up armed resistance;
  • repulse group and/or armed attacks on citizens’ dwellings, government buildings and organizations;
  • stop the vehicle by damaging it, when the driver poses hazard to the life and/or health of people and disobeys repeated lawful orders of the militia officer to stop;
  • give the warning shot, alarm and/or call for help.