Moscow City Hall surveyed 40 foreigners on the subject of “Safety in Moscow through Foreign Eyes” and discovered that respondents considered the biggest threat to personal safety to be the police. Respondents complained about police corruption, regular shakedowns for bribes under the guise of document checks and phony accusations of offenses, and failure of police, or bystanders, to assist them in threatening situations. Traffic police also were criticized for overlooking offenses to get bribes, helping create hazardous driving conditions. Crime and pollution were also raised as concerns.
Russia is reportedly home to 50 extremist “skinhead” youth groups, with some 5,000 members operating in Moscow and environs, and 3,000 in St. Petersburg. In the past they have caused trouble on the May Day (May 1) and Victory Day (May 9) celebrations by attacking foreigners, particularly non-whites. Avoid skinhead groups and do not engage them if encountered. Tourist areas in Moscow that are frequently targeted by skinheads include the old Arbat, Red Square, Izmailovo Park, Gorbushka and other market places, Pushkinskaya Square, Gorky Park, Poklonnaya Gora, CD Rynok and nightclubs.