In Russia, just like in any other foreign country, you may face differences in the cultural and legal environment. To reduce the stress associated with relocation and adjustment, we highly recommended that you get acquainted in advance with the local administrative rules, safety and security regulations at HSE, its internal regulations and guidelines and Culture Shock information.
Pursuant to the state security policy, a police officer can stop you at any time on the street / in the metro / in a public place and check your documents. Please carefully read the Guidance on Encounters with the Police for Foreign Nationals and make sure to have the following documents with you at all times:
- Passport with a valid visa
- Migration card
- HQS work permit
- Valid registration slip
Since having several administrative offences is likely to negatively impact your visa status, according to migration legislation, please be advised to avoid common offences (under the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation) which can result in an arrest and a fine:
- Smoking in public places
- Drinking alcohol and alcoholic products in public places. Please abstain from smoking and consuming alcohol, including beer, in places other than those specially designated for these purposes, like bars, cafes, clubs, etc.
- Taking drugs or psychotropic substances in public places
- Appearing in public places in a state of alcoholic intoxication
- Disorderly conduct
- Causing a disturbance at night-time
- Road traffic offences (including speed enforcement)
In addition, please be kindly advised of the following recommendations to avoid most common difficulties and hazards.
- Tips on how to prevent the spread of the disease and not to get sick yourself:
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
- When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- If you are sick, immediately inform your doctor or the insurance company of the symptoms.
- Follow all the doctor’s recommendations and instructions.
- Please keep in mind the following crime prevention tips:
- Be alert to the possibility of mugging, pickpocketing and theft from vehicles or hotel rooms.
- Be wary of groups of women and children who beg.
- Be aware of drink-spiking leading to robbery, violence and/or abuse. Unconscious victims are often left outside, which can be life-threatening in the winter months. Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times.
- Be aware of pickpockets in the main tourist areas and around the main railway concourses.
- Don’t accept any suspicious items from strangers even if they assure you that it is a present.
- Look after your passport at all times, especially in major transport hubs and busy areas.
Since Russia is a very large country, you may want to travel somewhere by train. In this case, it is highly recommended that you should bear in mind the following information:
- If you are travelling by overnight train in a sleeping compartment, store valuables in the container under the bed or seat.
- Don’t leave your sleeping compartment unoccupied as some compartments only have a simple lock on the sliding door. If the carriage is equipped with additional security locks or chains make sure to use them at nighttime.
- Don’t agree to look after the luggage of a fellow traveller or allow it to be stored in your compartment.
Political rallies may occur in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other places across Russia. For safety reasons:
- Check media for the latest information, be vigilant, and avoid any demonstrations.
- If you are arrested for participation in such events, do not hesitate to contact your Embassy. It is highly recommended to have a list of emergency numbers.
To ensure your personal security, it is highly recommended that you take the following steps:
- Remain vigilant in all public places, particularly those where access is not controlled (e.g. open-air events and markets) and in major transport hubs.
- If you have noticed a suspicious-looking person/ unwatched personal belongings, you should call the police and inform them of your concern.
- If an evacuation is ordered, go to a designated place. Make sure all staff and others in your facility are accounted for. Help challenged people who may need your help in exiting.
An explosion, terrorist attack, or other random act of violence can be followed by a second event that may cause as much damage as the first one, so please make sure to take the following steps:
- Be aware of your surroundings and find your safest escape route.
- Personal safety of yourself and those around you should be the first concern.
- Since one event can be followed by another, stay alert. There may be more danger yet to come.
- For protection, consider crawling under a table or desk and remain there for at least 60 seconds.
- Stay away from windows, mirrors, overhead fixtures, filing cabinets, bookcases, and electrical equipment.
- Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in obvious, immediate danger (building collapse, fire, etc.). Avoid known problem areas (where there are gas lines, fire hazards, etc.). Once out, keep as far away from the building as possible.
- Open doors carefully. Watch for falling objects.
- Do not use elevators.
- Do not use matches or lighters. Sparks might trigger explosions.
- Avoid using telephones and hand radios. Electrical sparks or signals could trigger other bombs.
There are occasional occurrences of flooding in southern regions of Russia, and forest fires, mainly in the far eastern areas and Siberia. This subsection describes the natural disasters typical for Moscow region.
Since the climate in Moscow region can be characterized as temperate continental, severe winters and extremely hot summers are not often to occur.
What you should do if the weather is extremely hot:
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Stay indoors as much as possible.
- Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
- Postpone outdoor games and activities.
- Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theatres, shopping malls, and other community facilities.
- Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals.
- Drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-coloured clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colours because they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
If the summer is extremely hot, the probability of wildfires increases. In addition to wildfires caused by heat, they are sometimes triggered by lightning, accidents, and very often by people’s negligence.
In order to protect yourself and your family, you are recommended to take the following actions:
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Take your disaster supply kit, lock your home and choose a route away from the fire hazard.
- If you see a wildfire and haven't received evacuation orders yet, call the emergency number. Don't assume that someone else has already called. Describe the location of the fire, speak slowly and clearly, and answer any questions asked by the operator.
Russia is traditionally known for its severe weather with extremely cold winters. While in real life the danger from winter weather varies across the country, you are likely to face severe winter weather at some point.
To survive in extreme cold, you should bear the following ideas in mind:
- Dress warmly. Layering your clothing will provide the best insulation and retain body heat. Wearing a non-permeable outer layer will minimize the effects of strong winds.
- Protect your extremities. Hands and feet are at greater risk of frostbite because body heat is naturally reserved in the torso to protect vital organs. So wear an extra pair of socks, and choose mittens rather than gloves.
- Wear a hat. You lose about 30 per cent of your body’s heat from your head. Particularly good are hats that cover the ears.
- Wear properly fitted winter boots. Boots that are too tight can limit or cut off circulation to the feet and toes. Also, choose a boot that’s insulated and has treads on the bottom for traction on ice and snow.
- Stay hydrated. The body uses a lot of energy to keep itself warm. Drinking plenty of fluids is important because your body will need frequent replenishing when fighting off the cold.
- Get out of wet clothing as soon as possible.
Whether you are required to leave a place/building by authorities or decide to evacuate on your own, please follow these guidelines:
- Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighbourhood.
- Become familiar with routes and other means of transportation out of your area. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.
- Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
- Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.
- If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.