What do Russians think of foreigners

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Current

The spread of COVID-19 continues to lead to restrictions in international air and travel traffic and impairment of public life.

There are currently warnings against unnecessary tourist trips to the Russian Federation.

Epidemiological situation

Russia is severely affected by COVID-19 across the country. Regional focuses are Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Russia is still classified as a risk area.
The official Corona portal of the Russian government and the World Health Organization (WHO) offer current and detailed figures.

entry

The entry of foreigners to Russia is generally restricted. The responsible Russian diplomatic mission abroad can provide more information.

When arriving by direct flight from Germany and certain other countries, including Finland, Greece and Switzerland, and with a valid visa, entry for German citizens as well as for citizens of other countries who have an unlimited residence permit for Germany or another document is their right certified for permanent residence in Germany (original submission required), and permitted for diplomats and service passport holders.

Entry by other means, in particular across the land border and by air from other countries, is only allowed for accredited employees of diplomatic missions and consular institutions of foreign countries, and their family members, drivers in international motor transport, the crews of aircraft, sea and inland waterway vessels, train personnel in international rail traffic, employees of the courier service between governments and members of official delegations, as well as persons with diplomatic, official or regular private visas issued in connection with the death of a close relative.
Persons who enter the country as family members (spouses, parents, children, adoptive parents or children), guardians or carers of Russian citizens with identity documents recognized in this capacity with visas, persons who come for medical treatment and persons who Have a permanent residence in the Russian Federation.
Even technicians who want to enter the country for the commissioning and maintenance of systems manufactured abroad are not subject to the entry ban. Highly qualified specialists with work permits and their family members can re-enter. The website of the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce in Moscow provides further information on the approval procedure required for these two groups.

Foreigners must provide proof of a negative PCR test when boarding a plane destined for Russia, even if they only want to travel through in transit. The test result must not have been determined earlier than three calendar days before the departure of the aircraft and must be printed out in Russian or English. Foreigners can be obliged to take random COVID-19 tests when entering the Russian airport. For other types of entry, the test must be carried out within three days of arrival and self-isolation at the place of residence or residence must be observed until the negative test result is received. Non-Russian nationals who enter Russia for gainful purposes are obliged to self-isolate in their home for 14 days. This also applies to people who live in the same household.

Travel across the land border of the Russian Federation, including the border to Belarus, is restricted for travelers. Germans are generally allowed to travel to Germany through Estonia, Finland, Lithuania and Poland in transit with their own vehicle or organized collective transport. The land border between Latvia and Russia is currently closed. In individual cases, foreigners with a permanent residence permit in Russia were refused permission to cross the Russian land border.

Transit and onward travel

Direct transit by international air traffic without entering the Russian Federation (airport transit) is permitted. Here too, travelers must provide evidence of a negative PCR test. The test result must not have been determined earlier than three calendar days prior to the departure of the aircraft and must be printed out in Russian or English. In addition, the entry requirements of the destination country must also be met. The maximum length of stay in the transit area is 24 hours.

Travel connections

Lufthansa offers flights several times a week between Frankfurt and Moscow (Domodedovo Airport) and between Frankfurt and St. Petersburg. Russian airlines offer flights between Moscow or St. Petersburg and Frankfurt and other German cities.
The international train service - with the exception of the route between Russia and Belarus - and the ferry service are suspended, as is the bus service for foreigners. Domestic air traffic is extensive.

Restrictions in the country

There are restrictions on events in Moscow. In other parts of Russia there may be other and more extensive restrictions.

Hygiene rules

In all publicly accessible rooms and means of transport, as well as in places where more than 50 people can come together, it is mandatory to wear mouth and nose protection. A minimum distance of 1.5 m from other people must be kept in public, this does not apply in taxis.

  • Make sure you comply with the AHA regulations and also follow the instructions from local authorities. High fines can be imposed if the hygiene regulations are violated.
  • Find out more about entry options from the relevant Russian diplomatic mission abroad.
  • In the case of absolutely necessary air travel, inquire with your airline in good time before booking whether Germans are allowed to fly.
  • Find out about detailed measures and additional information from the Russian government.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or come into contact with infected people, contact the local health department.
  • Stays in foreign countries can currently affect the possibility of entering other countries. Therefore, find out about the current regulations on entry, transit and quarantine in the respective travel countries via the travel and safety information before starting any trip.
  • When you return to Germany, note the valid entry restrictions such as registration, test and quarantine regulations, inquire about the current conditions of carriage at the relevant company or your tour operator, if necessary, and contact the health department at your place of residence or residence if you are entering from a risk area . Further information is available in our continuously updated info box on COVID-19 / Coronavirus.

security

Unnecessary trips to Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan and the immediate border region with Ukraine in Rostovskaya Oblast are not recommended.

terrorism

As various attacks with numerous fatalities have shown, attacks can occur in Russia, even outside the Caucasus region. The last death toll was a terrorist attack in the St. Petersburg metro in April 2017. The Russian authorities maintain their warning of attacks and continue to call for particular caution.

  • Continue to be particularly vigilant in busy locations, crowds, and when using public transport.
  • Please note the worldwide safety information.

Domestic situation

Crimea peninsula

We strongly advise against traveling to the Crimean peninsula, see Travel and Safety Advice Ukraine.
At the moment, people who are not only German but also Russian citizens, as well as certain professional groups such as journalists, are increasingly being rejected when entering Ukraine from the Russian Federation.

Border area with Ukraine

From unnecessary trips to the immediate border area with Ukrainein Rostovskaya Oblast at a distance of around 10 kilometers is not advised. The conflict in Eastern Ukraine is ongoing and is increasing the risk in this area of ​​emergency. There are also travel restrictions at many border crossings.

North Caucasus

Unnecessary trips to Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan are not recommended. When traveling to the federal district of the North Caucasus and neighboring regions, there is an increased security risk due to possible terrorist attacks, armed conflicts and kidnappings.
In addition, certain sections of some roads in the North Caucasus have only limited access for foreigners.
People who travel to the above-mentioned regions despite the risks can only count on limited help from the German embassy in Moscow in the event of an emergency.

Entry across the Georgian-Russian border into the Georgian conflict areas of Abkhazia and South Ossetia will continue to be punished by the Georgian authorities as an illegal border crossing, see Travel and Security Advice Georgia.

Rest of the country

There are still zones, especially in border areas, that can only be entered with a permit. There are many areas of the “green” border with Belarus, Poland and Lithuania where it is easy but illegal to cross the border.

In Moscow and St. Petersburg in particular, but also in other large cities, unauthorized rallies and demonstrations can lead to massive, sometimes violent, action by the security forces. Staying near unauthorized events should be avoided at all costs.

  • Find out about the local media.
  • Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings of people in large areas.
  • Follow the instructions of the security guards.
  • Be aware of travel restrictions and avoid unauthorized border crossings.
  • For travel to the Crimean peninsula, see the travel and safety information for Ukraine.
  • For trips to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, see the travel and safety information for Georgia.

crime

In the tourist centers of Russian cities as well as in larger crowds and on public transport such as the metro, petty crimes such as pickpocketing occur.

As in other large cities, there can be criminal offenses in bars and clubs in major Russian cities and occasional knockout drops can be used. Unconscious people can become victims of sexual violence or find themselves outdoors, which can be life-threatening in the winter months.

Tourists have been victims of crime in taxis that only look official but are not licensed.

There are currently more and more cases of internet fraud, in which people from Western Europe and the USA are asked to initiate monetary payments, for example in the context of supposedly long-term romantic relationships. As a rule, it is not possible to get back any amounts that have already been transferred, see also the information sheet of the German representations in the Russian Federation.

  • Be particularly vigilant in large crowds such as at airports, train stations, in the metro and on the bus, and watch out for your valuables.
  • Choose taxis carefully, use only registered taxi companies if possible, use apps or order them at the hotel.
  • When driving at night, make a visible note of the license plate number before getting into a taxi and convey this as a recognizable safety measure.
  • Keep your money, ID, driver's license, air tickets and other important documents safe.
  • Never leave drinks and food unattended in bars and clubs and buy them yourself whenever possible.
  • Also pay attention to security aspects when choosing your accommodation.
  • Due to the possible use of firearms during robberies, do not resist.
  • Prefer cashless payments and only take the cash you need for the day and no unnecessary valuables.
  • Be skeptical of unfamiliar e-mails, profit notifications, offers and requests for help from alleged acquaintances. Do not disclose any data about yourself; if necessary, make sure yourself personally or contact the police.

Nature and climate

Extreme cold and flooding

The climate ranges from arctic in the north to continental in the south.
In large parts of Russia, especially Siberia, extreme cold is to be expected in the winter months and considerable thaws and corresponding flooding in spring.

Bush and forest fires

In summer in Siberia, but also in the vicinity of the capital Moscow, bush and forest fires, some of which are widespread, can be expected, which can significantly affect the infrastructure and air quality.

Earthquakes and volcanoes

Parts of the Russian Federation, in particular Chechnya, Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands, are located in a seismically active zone in which earthquakes and volcanic activity can occur.
The Shiveluch in Kamchatka is one of the most common erupting volcanoes in the world and has recently shown increased activity. There is a high level of danger.

  • Always observe prohibitions, information signs and warnings as well as the instructions of local authorities.
  • Stay away from areas affected by natural disasters.
  • If necessary, find out more from the Russian Ministry of Civil Protection.
  • Familiarize yourself with earthquake and volcano behavior guidelines. These are provided by the fact sheets of the German Research Center for Geosciences.

Travel info

Infrastructure / traffic

Traffic routes may be impaired due to measures related to COVID-19 containment, see Current.

There is a dense domestic flight network, rail and bus connections and, in large cities, the underground trains that are often well-functioning.

The road conditions outside of the big cities are sometimes bad, and dangerous potholes often cannot be recognized in time in the dark.
Since 2009, the International Green Insurance Card has also been recognized in the Russian Federation as an international proof of liability insurance. Business travelers and tourists no longer need to take out additional motor vehicle liability insurance when entering the Russian Federation. However, the country name Russia or the country code RUS must be noted on the insurance card.
On motorways and outside built-up areas there is an unrestricted light requirement, so that dipped headlights must also be used during the day.
The 0.16 per mille limit applies, i.e. strictly speaking a ban on alcohol while driving.
In the roundabout, traffic coming from the right has priority unless otherwise indicated.

In the event of an accident that is not one's own fault, full compensation payments from the other party cannot always be expected; The amounts covered by Russian liability insurance are relatively low.
In the event of an accident, there may also be high costs for the return transport of the vehicle to Germany or very high fees for disposal in the Russian Federation. In the event of the theft of a temporarily imported vehicle with a foreign registration, import duties are levied by Russian customs.

When entering the country by car or coach, waiting times of several hours can occur at the border crossing points to the Russian Federation.

  • Be especially careful when driving, especially in the dark.
  • If possible, take out fully comprehensive insurance for car travel and purchase a foreign protection letter to protect against customs duties in the event of a claim.
  • Plan your car trips carefully and allow for lost time, especially when crossing borders.

Driving license

German citizens with temporary or permanent residence in the territory of the Russian Federation can drive vehicles with their German or a foreign international driving license in conjunction with their national driving license. Driving licenses without entries in letters of the Latin or Russian alphabet must be translated into Russian and provided with a Russian notarial certification.

German-Russian dual nationals are considered Russian citizens in the Russian Federation and must therefore have a valid Russian driver's license.

Travel to or from the Republic of Belarus

When traveling through the Republic of Belarus, travelers were rejected at the border with the Russian Federation, as the border crossings there are only legally permitted for use by Russian and Belarusian nationals. Border zones have also been set up along the border with Belarus, entry into which requires special permission from the border service of the Federal Security Service.

The use of long-distance train services - here only the direct connection on the Berlin-Moscow route - should be possible as an exception, according to the Russian Ministry of Transport, provided that the travelers are in possession of valid visas for the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus. Nevertheless, there have also been individual cases in which German nationals have been accused of illegally crossing the border.

Third-party foreigners with a valid Russian visa are again allowed to enter the Russian Federation from Minsk airport via eight airports, Moscow (all four), St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Krasnodar and Sochi, or in the opposite direction.

  • Make sure you have valid visas for both countries.
  • If possible, do not travel overland via Belarus to the Russian Federation and vice versa.
  • When traveling by air from Minsk to the Russian Federation and vice versa, do not use any other airports than the eight mentioned.
  • Pay attention to the prohibitions on entering border zones with Belarus.
  • Please also note the entry requirements for the Republic of Belarus, see also Travel and Security Advice Belarus.

Entry permission for certain areas

There are still municipalities and areas in the Russian Federation that can only be entered with special permission from the relevant state authorities. This is particularly important when traveling to the border areas of the Russian Federation such as the Kaliningrad area (e.g. for fishing in areas close to the border, for individual boat tours in the coastal waters, for hunting or other stays) and to the North Caucasus or parts of the Kamchatka Peninsula. If necessary, separate authorization certificates for the stay must be applied for at the responsible border service or district administrations, see also information from the German representations in Russia.

  • Before you start your journey, find out from your invitation, your travel agency or the Russian representations in Germany whether there are any special regulations in the intended travel area.
  • Avoid traveling to these areas without permission.

LGBTIQ

Homosexuality is not a criminal offense in Russia, but the acceptance of same-sex partnerships in Russian society is low.

There are repeated attacks on homosexuals, e.g. when showing mutual affection in public. The federal law against “Propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations with minors” also threatens foreigners with fines of up to 100,000 rubles, up to 15 days in prison and deportation if information about or public demonstrations and support for homosexuality are passed on of the Russian Federation.

Cases of persecution, arrest and torture of Chechen LGBTIQ people have occurred in Chechnya, according to credible reports from non-governmental organizations.

Legal specifics

The export of antiques and works of art, provided that they date from before 1945, is strictly forbidden. In the case of icons in particular, this rule is strictly monitored. In other cases, a certificate from the Ministry of Culture is usually required. In case of doubt, the Russian customs should be contacted in advance. The export of objects designated as "cultural property" (this also includes, for example, Soviet medals and banknotes that can be purchased at flea markets) without prior authorization can result in fines or long prison sentences.

Some government institutions do not allow photography. Caution is advised as not all photography bans are displayed. Military facilities should generally not be photographed.

The use of VPN networks is controlled; that of an unverified VPN network is a criminal offense.

Importing or exporting drugs, even small amounts of light drugs such as marijuana, can result in long prison terms.

In the Poland-Russia border area (Kaliningrad / Königsberg area), the “green border” is only marked at various points by widely spaced boundary stones. If the border from Poland is crossed illegally, even for a few meters, arrest and several years' imprisonment can be expected.
The same applies to areas in the North Caucasus, border zones with Belarus and the Lithuanian-Russian border (Curonian Spit). On the approx. Four km long border there is still no (continuous) fence in the area of ​​the dunes.

Money / credit cards

The national currency is the Russian ruble (RUB). Paying by credit card is now widespread and more and more common in everyday life. Withdrawals from ATMs are also possible in almost all cities. It is forbidden to change money on the street.

In the past there have been cases of bank and credit cards being misused: several ATMs were manipulated so that when withdrawing cash, the PIN and the data records were “copied” and then unauthorized cash withdrawals were made to the debit of the respective German card account.

For smaller expenses and also taxi rides, it is advisable to carry some cash in rubles with you.

  • If possible, take cash with you in small denominations (dollars or euros) and gradually exchange smaller amounts (exchange rate fluctuations).
  • Exchange money only in approved banks, hotels or exchange offices.
  • When using the cash card at the machine, watch out for changes or manipulations on the input keyboard and the collection mechanism and that you are not observed when you enter the PIN.

Entry and customs

Traffic routes may be impaired due to measures related to COVID-19 containment, see Current.

Entry and import regulations for German citizens can change at short notice without notifying the Foreign Office beforehand. You can only obtain legally binding information and / or information going beyond this information on the entry and customs regulations for importing goods directly from the representatives of your destination country.
You can find the customs regulations for Germany on the website of German customs and via the “Customs and Travel” app, or you can inquire about them by telephone.

Travel documents

Entry is possible for German citizens with the following documents:

  • Passport: Yes
  • Temporary passport: Yes
  • Identity card: No
  • Provisional identity card: No
  • Children's passport: Yes

Comments / minimum remaining validity:
As a rule, travel documents must be valid for six months beyond the date of departure and must be undamaged; In practice, passports with a shorter term, but in any case at least three months, are sometimes accepted.

Damaged travel documents are regularly rejected at the airport by the Russian authorities and airlines.

The requirements of individual airlines for the documents to be carried by their passengers differ in part from the state regulations.

visa

German citizens require a visa to enter and leave the country as well as in transit.
The visa must be obtained from the relevant Russian diplomatic mission or for short-term stays of up to eight days in the Kaliningrad and Sankt areas. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region can be applied for as e-Visa.
It is not possible to issue a visa through Russian border posts. The Embassy of the Russian Federation in Berlin provides further information.

e-Visa

For business, tourist or humanitarian short stays of up to eight days, German nationals have been able to apply for free e-Visa for single entry only for the Kaliningrad region since July 1, 2019 and for the city of Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad region since October 1, 2019. An expansion to the entire Russian Federation and the introduction of fees were planned for January 1, 2021. However, due to the entry restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, no e-visas are currently issued.
The application must be submitted online no later than four calendar days before departure, with a passport photo uploaded in the form of a digital file.
The period of validity is 30 days from the date of issue, during which an eight-day short stay is possible and must not be exceeded.
Exceeding this by an hour, e.g. for a departure at 1 a.m. after the expiry of the validity period, leads to problems. Arriving late due to long waiting times at the border is also considered to be your own fault and handing in your passport just a few minutes late is punished.

The border crossing points approved for entry and exit with e-Visa differ in part from the border crossing points otherwise approved with normal visas and are listed at the Russian Foreign Ministry, the e-Visa Application Process and the German representations in Russia. You cannot pass through border crossing points other than those mentioned there, not even by train for the Leningrad Region.

Entering or leaving other regions of the Russian Federation is not possible with the e-Visa, neither is a transit trip or a direct flight with a stopover in a city outside the Leningrad or Kaliningrad area.

Several e-visas can be applied for and used one after the other, provided that international border posts are crossed for each use. When using an e-Visa for St. Petersburg, for example, a subsequent stay with an e-Visa in Kaliningrad is possible if an international flight is used, e.g. via Riga or Warsaw. It is not possible to use a direct domestic flight from St. Petersburg to Kaliningrad or vice versa with an e-Visa. A stay of a maximum of 90 days in a half-year may never be exceeded.

The Russian border posts cannot issue an e-Visa. If the limit is exceeded by a few minutes, there is a risk of penalties and considerable delays in departure or onward travel.
Even the slightest spelling mistake in the electronic visa application (name, date of birth, place of birth, passport number - in German passports there is only the zero “0” but not the letter “O”, validity dates of the passport) lead to rejection upon entry.
All (first) names that are mentioned in the passport must also be listed in the application. Umlauts and other special characters in the name must be specified as in the machine-readable line of the passport.

Transport companies can check the existence and validity of electronic visas using a validity check.
The introduction of the e-Visa is a pilot project; changes at short notice are possible at any time.

Exceeding the stay

Overstaying the Russian visa, including the e-Visa, is a criminal offense and can result in hotels, guest houses and hostels refusing to accept them. If the visa has expired, it is not possible to leave the country without further ado. Formalities must be initiated at the locally responsible office of the Central Administration for Migration Affairs of the Russian Interior Ministry (GUWM). As a rule, this is followed by a judicial procedure, with the consequence of a fine and the obligation to apply for a special Russian exit visa (Transit visa no. 1) at the responsible Russian regional administration of the Ministry of Interior, which takes three to five days to complete or even expulsion. The expulsion is in turn linked to a re-entry ban for five years.

  • Check the validity of the Russian visa for possible errors before entering the Russian Federation.
  • When applying for a Russian visa, plan enough time so as not to overrun it with heavy traffic, delayed or canceled flights or the like