I am sorry to write this on the top but it is time to rewrite the information according to the actual date. Many points in the article are either not valid or not completely valid anymore. I am a Russian from Saint Petersburg and I don't know about what antipathy towards Georgians is article telling. Also an attitude to Putin's regime has changed a lot as the number of people got the higher education rose. Not all Russians are reserved, those who live south from the Don river are more open than those who live in the north. Georgian and Moldovan wines do not meet (at least in general) Russian quality standards and therefore they are not sold in bigger stores at all. Short-term (like a few days or one week) traveling to the republics Northern Caucasus become more popular year after year even though some violent criminal activities against tourists are often reported there. These are only a few points which should be in the article, but still aren't.
And BTW, the mead which can be bought from the shop contains alcohol 4-6% by volume and not definitely 10 to 16! The different kinds of mead you can drink in Suzdal, or may be offered by someone who makes mead for himself in house conditions, maybe contain more alcohol. I'm not sure about it, all I know you can't find 'more alcoholic' mead from the ordinary food shops.
"beer (not very good usually, usually old and kept in plastic bottles)"
I wouldn't consider Baltika or Stepan Raisin as bad beer. If you don't want to buy plastic bottles you can buy glass bottles it is usually no problem. I ve never had bad experiences with Russian beer.
I agree that the characterization is harsh, there are some beers like that there (which aren't horrible themselves), but most are decent and there are even microbreweries popping up. However, when I first read it, it made me laugh, so I'd like to keep it somehow.
intelligenzija (german wiki)
I would consider Russian beer much better as compared (atleast) to Finnish ones... (and many other Europeans also) I think that comment would be more to Soviet beer. Which does not exist anymore. There should be some kind of note that maybe that is not true anymore, if sentence is wanted to be kept on place. Since now it gives wrong information. TeeMa 03:48, 14 April 2007 (EDT)
"When buying items, make sure money is folded backwards with small bills on the outside and larger on the inside. Try to get bills in 50-500 ruble amounts to keep the numbers on the bills small.
Also, don't take your money out to pay before the total is told to you. This is considered stupid or odd. It also helps to keep your money from being snatched from you."
I've been living in Russia for over 10 years and both these items seem strange to me. Perhaps we should delete them? I do agree a point should be kept that bills of large amounts (RUR 500 and the upcoming 1000) are sometimes hard to spend. -- Johnsemlak 23 August 2005
Blsck people are routinely beaten up in Russia.
It is DPS, not GAI. ?
-- or GIBDD (ГИБДД)
There's a whole story into it. Once in early 2000'es some big brass in Moscow decided that it would be neat to change decades old name of traffic police department, GAI (State Automotive Inspection), into some unintelligible and unpronounceable gibberish, namely GIBDD (State Inspection for Road Safety), to have it sound more official. But this never really caught on -- mainly because local departments saw what it would cost to remake all the signage, repaint the cars, order new forms and papers -- and never lifted a finger. After a year or two of nagging MVD brass relented, and now russian traffic police have TWO officially recognised names. ;) And DPS is just a department whithin a GAI, meaning Road Patrol Service, and they are charged also with manning roadblocks and checkpoints, so this is easily most visible department.
This is just not true: "The further you get from Moscow or St. Petersburg, the worse the water condition gets". Yes, in Moscow even locals have to buy water for drinking and cooking. It may be because of geology of the region, the river regime or pollution, doesn't matter. BTW, I once bravely brushed my teeth with the tap water in Reykjavik (Iceland) and didn't even dare open my mouth after. But in Siberia where I grew up and have been living for more than 25 years the very idea of buying water was and still is ridiculous. Though it is recommended to boil it, I never tried, still alive. wikipedia:ru:User:Neko
Keep in mind that if you grew up there, your body is already accustomed to the flora and fauna living in the water. All around the world, there is little water treatment and in many cases the consequences are unnoticed by the local population. The real question is whether or not the water has been treated and is therefore safe for a traveller. -- Colin 16:35, 15 November 2006 (EST)
Support for Neko: in Moscow water is really dirty for all locals; quality does vary dramatically around the country, but there're both very good and very bad cases in different regions, even within the same city. I would recommend to consult locals before trying, however. Edited to reflect that. --DenisYurkin 17:34, 24 November 2006 (EST)
I deleted the following as it doesn't correspond to reality, and doesn't help a foreign traveller in any bit:
The Russian Mafia is infamous, and has a business of smuggling drugs from and in the country.
Would someone vote for keeping it?
--DenisYurkin 17:22, 24 November 2006 (EST)
I agree that the language that you deleted isn't particularly useful and might as well be deleted. However, I spent a bolshoi part of my life in the 1990s traveling to Russia, and I would very much have appreciated having some information on "organized crime" available at that time -- note that "organized crime" is not the same thing as "Mafia." Could something be done to expand the current, very brief mention of organized crime to make it useful, leaving the "Mafia" pejorative out? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 17:38, 24 November 2006 (EST)
What exactly you'd find useful to have here on organized crime? --DenisYurkin 17:45, 24 November 2006 (EST)
@Bill on the hill: As you said "In the NINETIES"- Mafia activity still exists, no doubt as much as anywhere, but it's misleading to say that it's really a problem for your average traveller going to Russia, and things are certainly not like the were in the nineties in russia these days
police: stems of bribery
Most accounts of bribery stem from the civilian not following common rules, such as carrying identification papers at all times, or drinking excessively in public.
I live in Russia for 30 years now, and it's really a new point of view for me that bribery stems from civilians not following common rules. Personally I think that it's inefficient government mechanics, but that's my personal opinion. I delete the piece because it is definitely far from any consensus possible. Let's discuss it here before putting it back to the article. --DenisYurkin 17:51, 24 November 2006 (EST)
I did the Transsib to Japan this year - and yes - I would say it's definitively a problem, especially the whole issue with registrations - no one agrees on the rules, i personally got 3 different answers on 2 different hostels (and a hotel). And the police feed on this, I met more than a dozen travelers who had problems, and one that had to bribe his way out of it. Sertmann 20:55, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
We definitely need more practical details following from this:
The conflict in Chechnya is also a major problem.
In the current form I don't see how much can it help a visitor. --DenisYurkin 17:54, 24 November 2006 (EST)
Geographic Hierarchy for Russia
OK, here is my approach to an overarching geographic hierarchy for Russia. The top level categories are based on the newish Russian Federal Districts + one for Kaliningrad. I made a separate category for Kaliningrad because a) this makes the subregions for Northwestern Russia total up to a maximum 9 and b) Kaliningrad is really much more in Northern Europe than in Northwestern Russia, at least from a "getting in" or "getting out" perspective. I don't think we need many smaller subdivisions, at least until a lot more Russia content gets developed.
The two aspects of this hierarchy that I find least satisfying are the sub-regions under Central Russia (Golden Ring, Don-Voronezh Region, and Western Russia) and under Volga Region (West Volga Region and East Volga Region). Of all Russia, I am least familiar with the Central and Volga regions so I had to just improvise to subdivide these regions. It would probably be better if someone could come up with alternative subdivisions for these two top-level regions based on something actually related to differences in culture, geography, history, or politics.
Lastly, I do intend to make maps (and articles where they are lacking) for subdivisions, but would of course welcome help ;) --PeterfitzgeraldTalk 01:43, 7 April 2007 (EDT)
Peter, I see that you are creating loads of great Russian articles and lots of "... Oblast" regions. Does Oblast have a reasonable translation in English? Because if it does we should really be using the english version of the name. -- DanielC 16:20, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
Oblast is actually considered a loanword in the English language and is usually used in English texts in place of the Russian область. The closest truly English word is province, but that in turn is a very loaded word in Russian (meaning far from the center, less educated and cultured), which could cause some confusion. I'm not a huge fan of having so many "... Oblast" articles either, but it might be the least bad solution. --PeterfitzgeraldTalk 16:58, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
Yes. I can see that Oblast is at transliteraton of область. I see from your link that it could usefully be translated as "province", with the next subdivision a "region", although I do appreciate your reservations about it's loaded nature in Russian. On Wiktiravel we do have a policy of using English place names wherever possible, and do use "ZZZ Region" in many countries. What would you think of changing the names of the USSR articles to "ZZZ Region"?, or if ZZZ is not also the name of a city, we could leave "oblast/region" off entirely. -- DanielC 14:08, 13 May 2007 (EDT)
My feeling is that it is best to keep the articles as ZZZ Oblast rather than region only because I haven't ever seen it rendered differently in English and "Oblast" is in my dictionary. I think it is considered not just a transliteration, but a loanword and thus not really a foreign word. Since "Perm Oblast," for example, is the standard rendering in English, I think people may likely search for it directly, but would not search for Perm Region, which sounds more like a hair-care company :) But of course, redirects would make this a pretty slight issue. In any rate, I figured I would move our discussion here in case anyone else would like to comment. --PeterfitzgeraldTalk 22:43, 23 May 2007 (EDT)
I agree that Oblast is the least bad option. "Region" is not suitable, because oblast are often subdivided into raion, which in turns translates as "region"... Jpatokal 23:00, 23 May 2007 (EDT)
In the absence of a suitable English translation, I agree with Peter's rationale for adopting Oblast as an article title: It is the least bad option. WindHorse 23:19, 23 May 2007 (EDT)
As far as I'm concerned, the US has "states", Canada has "provinces", the UK has "counties", and Russia has "oblasts". It's just the local name for "a thing smaller than a country". - Todd VerBeek 00:16, 24 May 2007 (EDT)
Another decisive factor for keeping Oblast is that Russia itself uses the English transliteration in is English documents and maps (and therefore that is the name travelers will encounter within the country), which is different than, say, for example, Japan which translates its smaller geographic units ken (県) as 'prefecture' in its English references, or Taiwan, which translates the same character as 'county.' WindHorse 00:53, 24 May 2007 (EDT)
There should be some discussion using cash, foreign money, exchanging foreign money, credit cards, and travelers' cheque. (TCs are very difficult to use.)
Please do feel free to plunge forward and add your knowledge and experience to the article! --PeterTalk 02:19, 30 August 2007 (EDT)
Azerbaijan Travel Links
I cannot find information on the Moscow-Baku train link. Also, does anyone know about the boat link from Astrakhan to Baku? Feel free to send me the info and I can post it up. Thanks!! Cupcakecommander 08:31, 1 September 2007 (EDT)
"History" is really weak. Russia was already a political nation in the 16th century. It's consolidation under the rule of Moscow's princes was already a fact by the end of the 15th. It is also quite arguable that Russian Empire did reach it's peak in the 18 th century and try checking Tolstoy's and Dostovskiy's biographies to get to know when they lived. These are only the factual mistakes, the opinions are also somehow questionable. Meanwhile the whole article is good, a funny take on russian everyday life which seems at points weird and overcomplicated due to lack of services. Though it's all only surface
Agreed about the history section, it's not just weak, it's incorrect. I'd encourage you to plunge forward and revise it yourself, it would benefit from the attention! --PeterTalk 21:43, 5 October 2007 (EDT)
I've rolled back this edit; there's both good and bad in it, but eg. characterizing the Russian economy under Khrushchev as "focusing more resources in prodcution(sic) of consumer goods" and diking out everything about Putin's power grab is more than a little disingenuous. Jpatokal 00:03, 5 June 2008 (EDT)
I have heard that Russians are suspicious to men with shaven heads, because they look like prisoners. Is that true? /Blist 22:44, 11 October 2007 (EDT)
Not exactly, but there's some merit in this. Head shave is commonly administered to newcomers in most Russian institutionalised settings, like prisons (true), army, etc, ostensibly as a hygienic measure to fight lice and such. But while short hair is usually encouraged in this settings, normally it's not a clean scalp, so when, for example, some inmate have served his sentence and is released, he would have a crew cut or something like this, and buzz cut would mean that he's just escaped.
On the other hand, now there's growing acceptance of head shaving as a fashion statement, and not a sign of a severe lice (or government) problem, so if you don't basically look like thug or skinhead, then everything would be fine.
With the recent addition of Volgograd, the cities list is now at a maximum of 9. It might be best to establish a firm consensus around which 9 cities belong on this list now, so that we don't run into endless cavils in the future. As always, the principal considerations are geographic representation (of the various regions) , perceived "fame" of the city, and the quantity of yearly visitors to the city. Here are my thoughts:
I'm very confident that the following five belong:
Vladivostok - IMHO the best representative of the Far East, and it probably gets the most visitors in the Far East, as the terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway
Irkutsk - The most popular stop on the Trans-Siberian and the gateway to Lake Baikal is smaller than Novosibirsk, but it has way more yearly English-speaking visitors, so I think it is a better representative of Siberia.
Yekaterinburg - Definitely the best representative of the Urals, and a high-profile tourist destination
I'm less certain of which city(cities) should represent the Volga Region:
Nizhny Novgorod - A city with over 1 million pop. with a lot of interesting sights, but not very frequently visited
Kazan - Another city over 1 million pop., and the world center of Tatar culture, probably visited just as frequently as NN, but we don't even have an article yet!
Volgograd - Again over 1 million pop., hugely important for Mamaev Kurgan, although otherwise not as interesting a destination as NN and Kazan, but then again, it's probably the southernmost big destination in Russia
I haven't actually traveled along the Golden Ring, so I can't say with certainty, but Vladimir seems like a relatively unimportant destination in and of itself. As far as I understand it, the main reason why it gets many visitors is because it is nearSergiev Posad, which is probably too small a destination to be on the cities list.
Novgorod is another great destination and is often visited, but is also fairly small and a visitor can really see everything of interest in just one day.
This all leaves us without a representative for Southern Russia. Rostov-on-the-Don would be the clear choice, but it is not an important travel destination. Sochi would probably be a better choice, but it still is pretty small.
I also do not think that Kaliningrad is an important enough travel destination to be in the cities list, and it is anyway already listed clearly in the regions list.
So, I have bolded the ten cities that I think have a good claim to being on the list. If I were to choose which one to cut (as we may not exceed 9), I would choose to eliminate Novgorod - it is of most importance to visitors to Saint Petersburg and it is already well linked from the Northwestern Russia and Saint Petersburg articles. I would love to hear others' opinions! And if anyone knows of good published data on annual visitors to Russian cities, that would be very helpful. --PeterTalk 02:19, 3 November 2007 (EDT)
The nine above seem reasonable to me. I think claims could be made for Tomsk and Ulan Ude as relatively major destinations, though. Our Ulan Ude guide is in decent shape. Gorilla Jones 14:25, 3 November 2007 (EDT)
Ulan Ude is definitely a major destination, but it represents the same part of the country (and the Trans-Siberian) as Irkutsk, and Irkutsk is twice as big. Tomsk, I think, is a pretty good candidate—it's very well-suited to tourism (by Russian standards) and is several "Germanies" away from Irkutsk at the other end of Siberia. The main reasons not to include it, though, are 1) IMHO, the 10 destinations bolded above are slightly better choices, and 2) Novosibirsk would riot if we list Tomsk and not it. I don't think Novosibirsk should make the list, although it is one of Russia's 5 biggest cities, because it lacks significant tourist-attractions and does not see many English-speaking visitors. --PeterTalk 20:47, 4 November 2007 (EST)
Following the Peter's request, here's my opinion. I'm note sure I am ready to give more strong arguments than the following:
Yes, Vladimir seems too small and unimportand at the country level. Sergiev Posad is good as a member of Golden Ring, but no more than that.
Not sure on choice between Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude: I think we should choose the most frequently used for getting to Baikal; don't know which is such.
From insider's point of view, Kaliningrad is as important as Vladivostok, but I've never had a chance to look from western tourist's point of view. I'm only not sure it is equally popular as an entry point as Vladivostok is.
Sochi would be worth a mention if we write a guide for Russians (and Rostov-on-Don wouldn't); I have no idea however why anyone outside Russia would want to head to Sochi.
I share the opinion that Novosibirsk is not a destination in itself, only an intermediate point on one's way to Altai mountains. BTW, why Altai is not in "Other destinations" list yet? :-)
Overall, I am not a huge fan of wars about shortlisting of cities--as I don't see much sense in having list of cities, and in insisting it should be no more than 9 items. But I don't have too much energy for challenging that.
I'm no Russia expert, but in 2014 there will be lots of people who want to go to Sochi! And I don't think Kaliningrad the city needs a listing, because Kaliningrad is already listed as a top-level region. Jpatokal 23:25, 6 November 2007 (EST)
Whoa! Sochi won the election! That's huge Russia travel news that I missed. Given that, I think Sochi should be in the list—it's also probably the best possible representative of Southern Russia, given that Rostov is not a tourist draw. If we are choosing between Irkutsk & Ulan-Ude, I strongly favor Irkutsk because it is twice the size and has a major international airport. So, my feeling after the discussion above is that the list should contain the following 9 cities:
I've now put this list on the main article so that more casual contributors will notice it. I'm inclined to let this discussion sit for a month, if there are no irreconcilable objections, we'll call this a consensus, and the list will become rather difficult to change. --PeterTalk 01:06, 7 November 2007 (EST)
I would suggest replacing Nizhny with a Golden ring town, alternatively Novosibirsk or Ekaterinburg. I spend two days there this summer, and it was without a doubt, the dullest and most polluted of the cities i visited - definitively not a travel destination. Sertmann 20:52, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
Yekaterinburg is in the list already, and I'd definitely oppose replacing Nizhny Novgorod with Novosibirsk (which is a young Soviet industrial city with no history). Nizhny itself offers pretty much just the kremlin, but the nearby Markaryevsky Monastery is supposed to be fabulous. The Golden Ring cities are all very worthy travel destinations, but are pretty small to list for an enormous country with many cities over 1 million residents. The Golden Ring also works better as a unit of travel, as which it should be listed above in the Central Russia description section.
You might be interested to know that we're discussing which cities to include now on the Russian version, and while that might not align perfectly with our purposes here, it's interesting to see which cities our Russian contributors would pick. The emerging consensus compares to our current list:
Moscow - Moscow
Saint Petersburg - Saint Petersburg
Volgograd - Volgograd
Yekaterinburg - Yekaterinburg
Kazan - Kazan
Irkutsk - Krasnoyarsk
Vladivostok - Vladivostok
Nizhny Novgorod - Yakutsk
Sochi - Kaliningrad
Sochi and Irkutsk should stay, since they are of especial importance for non-Russian visitors to the country—Irkutsk as a base for exploring Baikal and the main airport for doing only the eastern portion of the Trans-Sib, and Sochi because of the 2014 winter Olympics. We could perhaps replace Nizhny with Krasnoyarsk, but I'm not convinced that the latter city is any more interesting (though it is the gateway to very rarely visited, but fascinating regions in north central Siberia). Velikiy Novgorod is a huge draw for foreign visitors, but it's small (~220,000); Tomsk is perhaps more interesting than Nizhny, but is only (440,000). --PeterTalk 00:11, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
The article had a large span of blank white space next to the country panel, I've moved the Understand section there. The original next bit (regions) includes a map, so that couldn't easily move up into the space as we'd have had nested images side by side. The thing I'm unsure of is whether it is okay to muck about with the order of sections - is it okay to have Understand up at the top of the article like this? Andyfarrell 04:11, 3 November 2007 (EDT)
The short answer is no, we are supposed to have a uniform order of the sections across the site... however, I think you're a genius... We've been struggling with layout at the top of our articles, especially since the arrival of the fabulous-but-bulky Template:Regionlist... I'm gonna leave this for now and bring up the issue at Wikitravel talk:Country article template... let's see what others have to say :) – cacahuatetalk 17:51, 3 November 2007 (EDT)
Well I'm just learning so I won't be troubled if a consensus is for a revert. I'll go read those template talk pages you mentioned now. Thanks for the kind words! Has anyone any suggestion how in this article "Regions" including its map could be neatly formatted to fill that dead white space? (Thus keeping within the proper template sequence.) Andyfarrell 19:44, 3 November 2007 (EDT)
Russian visa process
I've made what probably seems to be a major update to the Get In section on Russian visas. The whole section was growing and growing and becoming redundant -- and also redundant with some text in the St Petersburg article, which I've pulled in here -- that I thought it was worth a rewrite. I've rearranged several things, added some of my own comments, and only deleted other users' writing when it was redundant. The product is what I've posted, and I welcome discussion and edits. If you REALLY prefer the previous version, I'm open to discussion on that, too. --Andrewsyria 09:04, 18 July 2008 (EDT)
No link list?
I found very detailed info on traveling in Russia and Mongolia on a private webpage  - worth reading!
Peter has often said that most of the Respect sections on Wikitravel are terrible, and this one is not an exception — particularly the paragraph about keeping political opinions to yourself. I'm not sure what concrete, useful information I'm supposed to be taking from the paragraph about tipping, either. Gorilla Jones 00:22, 9 January 2009 (EST)
Not keeping political opinions private can see you in serious trouble with Russian nationalists (almost neo-nazis). And Americans mouthing-off how THEY won the war - despite 27 million dead Soviet citizens - is a sure way of starting a fight. Just remember that it's not called the Great Patriotic War for nothing. It has as much meaning for Russians as ANZAC Day does for Australians and New Zealanders and common decency means you show respect. Most of the comments are accurate, perhaps they can be worded better, but they are accurate.
Visa advice out of date
"Obtaining a Russian visa is a costly, time-consuming, and often frustrating process. Most visitors should start the process at least two months in advance, but it can be done in a few weeks if you are willing to spend a little extra. For citizens of EU-Schengen countries, this will cost €35 and take three days (or even the next day), instead of the usual 4-10 days."
this statement is misleading..
I have had very little trouble obtaining russian visas (have done 1 private and 2 tourist), tourist can usually be done within 2 weeks at usual cost, and invitations can be ordered very easily through companies online or next day if you pay extra- That said, it's probably best to allow a month for obtaining a visa as with making any travel arrangements. visa cost for schengen countries are probably out of date- UK citizen visa fees have gone up so there is little doubt that the same has happened elsewhere.....