• #Luxury travel
  • #Unusual Moscow
  • #Jewish Heritage
  • #Russian traditions

gov travel russia

Coronavirus (COVID19) travel Information

  • #Travel tips

When planning your trip, it is essential to inform the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Below is the latest information regarding the current situation.

  • Border closing

Russia closed its borders for foreign visitors from 18.03.2020 till further notice. Here are the few exceptions: foreigners studying in Russia; diplomatic workers and members of their families; relatives of a deceased person, provided that they have documents confirming their relations; transit passengers; foreigners seeking medical treatment; international ship, cargo, train, sea crew members performing their work duties; specialists who carry out adjustment and maintenance of imported equipment; holders of special visas, issued to visit the funeral of a person, permanently residing in Russia; Russian citizens and permanent residents.

  • Border opening

Russia's borders are open for the citizens of certain countries with which Russia has resumed regular air travel.

The international flight connection reopened between Russia and several counties from the particular list approved by the government. Today the list of such countries includes 50 countries:

  • Turkey 
  • Switzerland
  • South Korea
  • Tanzania (temporarily no air connection)
  • Azerbaidzhan
  • Tadzhikistan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • North Macedonia

Citizens of the foreign states, according to the list, can visit Russia if they enter the Russian Federation from the country of their citizenship through air checkpoints across the state border of the Russian Federation.

  • Special requirements

On the departure to Russia, travelers must show a negative result for a COVID test conducted within 72 hours before arrival English or Russian). Russian citizens arriving without a test result must submit to this test within 72 hours of arrival. Foreign citizens will not be accepted onboard without this test.

There is no quarantine upon arrival.

  • Boutique Hotels in St. Petersburg read
  • Travel tips read
  • Quick facts about Russia read

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Latest update

We continue to advise:

Do not travel to Russia due to the security situation and the impacts of the military conflict with Ukraine.

Russia Map Mar 2023

Russia (PDF 2.04 MB)

Europe (PDF 2.62 MB)

Local emergency contacts

All emergency services, fire and rescue services, medical emergencies, advice levels.

Do not travel to Russia. 

Do not travel to Russia due to the dangerous security situation and the impacts of the military conflict with Ukraine. 

Do not travel to North Caucasus.

Do not travel to North Caucasus due to the high threat of terrorism and political unrest.

See Safety .

  • There's an ongoing threat of terrorism. Terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda and Daesh-aligned groups, continue to call for attacks in Russia. Attacks can be indiscriminate and may occur on or around seasonal, festive, or religious events in public places and could include popular tourist sites. Attacks may occur with little or no warning. Always be alert to possible threats and have a clear exit plan. On 23 March, there was a terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall in Moscow, resulting in significant loss of life.
  • Security incidents, such as drone attacks and explosions, often occur in southern and western areas of Russia, including regions bordering Ukraine, Moscow, and St Petersburg. This can cause significant flight delays and travel disruption. You shouldn't attempt to travel to the Russia-Ukraine border or cross into Ukraine from Russia.
  • The security situation could deteriorate further with little warning. If you're in Russia, leave immediately using the limited commercial options available or private means if it's safe to do so. Departure routes from Russia may become disrupted at short notice, so have an alternate exit plan. 
  • If you decide to stay in Russia, review your personal security plans. You're responsible for your own safety and that of your family. Our ability to provide consular assistance in Russia is limited. The Australian Government will not be able to evacuate you from Russia.
  • There are limited transportation options, restrictions on financial transactions and possible shortages of essential products and services. 
  • The Russian Government has introduced a 'medium response level' in several regions of Russia, including Krasnodar, Belgorod, Bryansk, Voronezh, Kursk, and Rostov and a 'heightened preparedness level' in the remainder of the Central and Southern Federal districts. A basic readiness level covers the rest of Russia. There may be an increase in security personnel and installations. Security measures or restrictions may be introduced with little to no notice. Monitor the media for developments. 
  • Russian authorities have made strong, negative comments in relation to Western countries. Local authorities may adopt a more negative attitude towards foreigners in Russia in reaction to perceived support for Ukraine and sanctions on Russia. Non-participating bystanders can draw scrutiny from security forces and have been detained. Remain vigilant, avoid protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publicly on political developments.
  • Continue to follow the advice on Smartraveller. If you have significant concerns for your welfare or that of another Australian, contact the Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135 in Australia or +61 2 6261 3305 outside Australia.

Full travel advice:  Safety

  • Laws about the import and use of medicines are strict. You need a doctor's letter and a notarised translation confirming your need for each medication that contains restricted substances. Contact the  Embassy of Russia  for details.
  • Rabies and tick-borne encephalitis are on the rise. Ticks are common from April to October. Take care when travelling through forests.
  • Infectious diseases such as typhoid, hepatitis, diphtheria, measles and tuberculosis are a risk. Boil drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Public medical facilities in Russian cities are below Australian standards and basic in rural areas.

Full travel advice:  Health

  • Russia may subject males it regards as Russian to mobilisation, regardless of any other citizenship held. Laws introducing heavy penalties for 'crimes against military service' have been passed. The Australian Government won't be able to intervene if you're subjected to mobilisation.
  • Conscription occurs regularly in Russia. The Government may subject males it regards as Russian to mandatory conscription, regardless of any other citizenship held. From 1 January 2024, the maximum age of conscription will change from 27 to 30 years old. Russian authorities have also passed laws allowing for the draft notice to be serviced to the conscripts online, preventing conscripts from leaving the country once the notice is registered and sent.
  • Russia has passed laws that severely inhibit free speech related to the current situation, imposing severe restrictions on the publishing and distribution of information related to the Russian armed forces and any military operations. Foreign journalists and other media workers in Russia may face considerable risks, including arrest and imprisonment. Don't share or publish information related to the current events in Ukraine and Russia.
  • Russian authorities may enforce local laws in an arbitrary manner. You may be interrogated without cause by Russian officials and may become a victim of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion.
  • Don't use or carry any illegal drugs. Penalties are severe. Carry your passport, visa and migration card at all times. Authorities won't accept copies.
  • Don't take photos of military places or sensitive areas, such as passport control. It's also illegal to use commercial film, television, camera equipment or drones in public without permission. Hand-held video cameras are legal.
  • Russia doesn't recognise dual nationals. We can only provide limited consular assistance to dual nationals who are arrested or detained. You'll need a valid Russian passport to leave.
  • Same-sex relationships are technically legal but are not widely accepted. Violence against members of the LGBTI community occurs. Russia's parliament passed a law banning "LGBT propaganda", criminalising any act regarded as an attempt to promote what Russia calls "non-traditional sexual relations". The promotion of LGBTI issues may be considered illegal by local authorities, and activists may face consequences under Russian law. In July 2023, the Russian President signed a decree banning gender changes without medical requirements. The law also annuls marriages in which one person "changed gender" and prevents transgender couples from adopting children.
  • Law enforcement agencies in Russia cooperate closely with agencies in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. If you commit an offence in one of these countries, you may be detained in another (including at the border) and extradited for prosecution.

Full travel advice:  Local laws

  • If you're in Russia, leave immediately using the limited commercial options available or private means if it's safe to do so. The security situation could deteriorate further with little warning. If you decide to stay in Russia, review your personal security plans. You're responsible for your own safety and that of your family. Have an alternate exit plan.
  • Confirm with your transport operator that services are still operating if you plan to depart Russia. Commercial travel routes between Russia and Europe are often disrupted due to measures taken in response to military action in Ukraine. Several Russian airports are now closed to the public, disrupting internal flights to and from Moscow and other cities. The train and bus service between St Petersburg and Helsinki is suspended. 
  • If you're travelling through an overland border crossing into  Estonia  or  Latvia , confirm the entry requirements for your destination before arrival. Finland has closed border crossings with Russia indefinitely and maritime borders will close on 15 April. Latvia introduced an entry ban on vehicles registered in Russia in September 2023. There's a ban on vehicles crossing into/from Estonia at the Ivangorod- Narva crossing. Train service is also suspended. Entry and exit on foot will still be allowed. Additional restrictions or entry requirements could be imposed or changed suddenly. Be aware that some borders may close without notice. Australia and other countries have placed sanctions on Russia. Russia's response to these sanctions may disrupt travel and affect travellers.
  • Russian airlines and railways may be affected by shortages of parts and essential technical components for their fleets, affecting maintenance and safety standards. Research your railway and aviation provider before choosing their services. The International Civil Aviation Organisation has issued a Significant Safety Concern (or 'red flag') notice regarding the capacity of Russian airlines to oversee safety. 
  • If, despite our advice, you decide to enter Russia, expect thorough security checks at the border, including questioning and inspections of electronic devices. Entry requirements can change at short notice. Contact your airline or the nearest embassy or consulate of Russia to confirm entry requirements.
  • Bank cards issued outside of Russia don't work in Russia. You won't be able to access funds from these cards once you enter Russia. You may not be able to exchange Australian dollars as well as old, worn, or damaged US dollar and euro banknotes into Russian rubles in Russia. Ensure you have enough money to cover your stay.
  • Dual nationals can't leave Russia without a valid Russian passport. If your Russian passport expires while you're in Russia or if you enter Russia using a repatriation certificate, you'll need to get a new Russian passport before you leave. This can take up to 3 months. The Australian Government won't be able to intervene or fast-track this process.  

Full travel advice:  Travel

Local contacts

  • The  Consular Services Charter  details what we can and can't do to help you overseas.
  • For consular help, contact the  Australian Embassy  in Moscow. Our ability to provide consular assistance in Russia is limited due to the evolving security situation. The Australian Government will not be able to evacuate you from Russia.
  • The Australian Consulate in St Petersburg can provide limited help.
  • If you have significant concerns for your welfare or that of another Australian, contact the Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135 in Australia or +61 2 6261 3305 outside Australia.

Full travel advice:  Local contacts

Full advice

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Russia. Terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda and Daesh-aligned groups, continue to call for attacks in Russia. Attacks can be indiscriminate and may occur on or around seasonal, festive, or religious events in public places and could include popular tourist sites. Attacks may occur with little or no warning. Always be alert to possible threats and have a clear exit plan. Russia has seen a number of terrorist attacks which have caused large casualty numbers. On 23 March, there was a terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall in Moscow, resulting in significant loss of life. Russia's aviation has also been targeted. 

Russian authorities continue to announce arrests and the disruption of planned attacks.

Terrorists have attacked other European cities. Targets have included:

  • places of worship
  • government buildings
  • shopping areas
  • tourist sites
  • restaurants
  • entertainment venues
  • transportation hubs
  • major events which attract large crowds

To protect yourself from terrorism:

  • be alert to possible threats, especially in public places
  • be extra cautious around possible terrorist targets
  • always have a clear exit plan
  • report anything suspicious to the police
  • monitor the media for any new threats
  • take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities

If there's an attack, leave the area as soon as it's safe. Avoid the affected area in case of secondary attacks.

Terrorism is a threat worldwide.

More information:

North Caucasus

There's a high threat of terrorism in parts of the North Caucasus, including:

  • North Ossetia
  • the south-eastern part of Stavropol bordering Chechnya
  • Karbardino-Balkaria
  • Karachay-Cherkessia

Terrorist attacks continue to occur in Chechnya. Several people have been killed and injured.

Our ability to provide consular assistance to Australians  in those parts of the North Caucasus  is limited.

If, despite our advice, you travel to these parts of the North Caucasus:

  • monitor local conditions via media and travel operators
  • arrange personal security measures

Georgia-Russia border

The Georgia-Russia border area is volatile because of tensions in Georgia.

If, despite our advice, you travel in the border region, read our  Georgia travel advice .

Security situation

Security incidents, such as drone attacks and explosions, often occur in southern and western areas of Russia, including regions bordering Ukraine, Moscow, and St Petersburg. This can cause significant flight delays and flight cancellations. You shouldn't attempt to travel to the Russia-Ukraine border or cross into Ukraine from Russia.

The security situation could deteriorate further with little warning. If you're in Russia, leave immediately using the limited commercial options available or private means if it's safe to do so. Departure routes from Russia may become disrupted at short notice. If you decide to stay in Russia, review your personal security plans. You're responsible for your own safety and that of your family.

The Russian Government has introduced a 'medium response level' in several regions of Russia, including Krasnodar, Belgorod, Bryansk, Voronezh, Kursk, and Rostov and a 'heightened preparedness level' in the remainder of the Central and Southern Federal districts. A basic readiness level has been introduced in the rest of Russia. There may be an increase in security personnel and installations. Security measures or restrictions may be introduced with little to no notice. Monitor the media for developments.

Ukraine border areas and Crimea

The Russia-Ukraine border is volatile due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Security incidents regularly occur in Belgorod, Bryansk, Kursk and other regions of Russia bordering Ukraine, including explosions and large fires. The security situation in the region could deteriorate at short notice. You shouldn't travel to the Russia-Ukraine border or cross into Ukraine from Russia.

We currently advise you do not travel to Ukraine due to the volatile security environment and military conflict. Read the  Ukraine travel advice   for more information.

The Australian Government doesn't recognise Russia's claimed annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea or its other territorial claims in occupied Ukraine.

Leaving Russia

Where it's safe to do so, you should leave Russia immediately. Use your judgment to decide the best time and safest means of exit. 

Transport routes may be disrupted. Plan for delays at land border crossings. Expect disruption to travel and changes at short notice. Make sure you have an adequate supply of food, water, medication and fuel. Make sure you have payment options that will work during your journey and at your destination. 

Read your destination's travel advice to ensure you meet the entry requirements. These may differ when entering by road, rail or air. Be aware that some borders may close without notice. Commercial travel routes between Russia and Europe have been impacted by measures taken in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Check with your airline or travel agent for current flight availability. Any travel options you pursue are at your own risk. See ' Travel '

For more information on entry requirements for countries bordering Russia, read the travel advice:

The European Union also has a website with  information on travel restrictions for people seeking to enter member states .

If you decide to stay in Russia:

  • follow the instructions of authorities
  • ensure your travel documents are up-to-date, and keep your passport and other travel documentation safe
  • contact your family and friends in Australia so they're aware of your location and situation
  • keep up to date with developments on the security situation, monitor reputable media, and regularly check our travel advice and  social media
  • review your personal security plans and make contingency plans to leave as soon as you judge it safe to do so
  • always be alert and aware of your surroundings
  • avoid large gatherings and areas with groups of fighters and military equipment.

Civil unrest and political tension

Russia's parliament has passed laws that severely restrict free speech related to the current situation. Foreign journalists and other media workers in Russia may face considerable risks, including arrest and imprisonment.

While the effects of this law are still unclear, you may be detained or fined for:

  • sharing or publishing information that local authorities deem false
  • sharing or publishing information that may be detrimental to the armed forces
  • calling for, sharing or publishing speech in support of sanctions against Russia

You should not:

  • share or publish information related to the current events in Ukraine and Russia
  • participate in demonstrations and large gatherings

Russian authorities may adopt a more negative attitude towards foreigners in Russia due to perceived support for Ukraine and sanctions on Russia. Russian authorities may enforce local laws in an arbitrary manner. You may be interrogated without cause by Russian officials and may become a victim of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion.

Avoid commenting publicly on political developments.

Anti-war and anti-mobilisation protests have taken place in cities across Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. Many protesters have been arrested.

Unsanctioned protests are illegal, and you can be arrested if you participate. Remain vigilant and avoid rallies, protests, demonstrations and other large public gatherings, as they can turn violent, and you may be arrested.

  • Demonstrations and civil unrest

Theft and assault

Petty crime, pickpocketing and mugging is common. Groups of children sometimes commit crimes, too.

Hot spots for crime include:

  • the Izmailovsky Market
  • other tourist attractions
  • the Moscow and St Petersburg metros

Thieves often steal passports. They target travellers in  robberies  and  assaults , particularly in large cities.

To protect yourself from theft and assault:

  • keep your personal belongings close, particularly in tourist areas
  • be aware of your security in public places, particularly at night
  • monitor local media on crime
  • racially or religiously motivated assaults may occur throughout Russia.

Drink spiking

Criminals may drug and rob travellers at nightclubs and bars. Sometimes this happens after people accept offers of food, drink or transportation from strangers.

To protect yourself from spiking-related crime:

  • never accept food or drinks from strangers
  • don't leave drinks unattended
  • leave your drink if you're not sure it's safe
  • stick with people you trust in bars, nightclubs and taxis
  • don't accept offers of transport from strangers
  • Partying safely

Using taxis

People have reported extortion and robbery while taking unauthorised taxis.

To protect yourself from robbery while travelling in taxis:

  • only use official taxi companies
  • always book your taxi in advance
  • don't flag down taxis on the street
  • don't share taxis with strangers
  • always negotiate and confirm the fare before you get in a taxi

Credit card and ATM fraud

Credit card and ATM fraud is common.

To protect yourself from fraud:

  • only exchange currency at banks
  • keep your credit card in sight during transactions
  • only use ATMs inside banks and during business hours
  • always hide your PIN

Other scams

Criminals may try to cheat you by changing money in the street or a bank queue.

Some Australians have been victims of fraud by bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes operating from Russia.

These are large-scale, well-organised  scams .

Criminals arrange to meet people through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. After getting to know each other, the criminal asks the Australian to send money so they can travel to Australia. However, the relationship ends after the money has been received, and the funds can't be recovered.

Be wary of people you meet through internet dating schemes or chat rooms.

People have also reported harassment, mistreatment and extortion by police and other local officials.

If you suspect you're being extorted by a police officer or other local official, offer to walk with them to the nearest police station. Once there, you can check their identity and their demands.

Cyber security 

You may be at risk of cyber-based threats during overseas travel to any country. Digital identity theft is a growing concern. Your devices and personal data can be compromised, especially if you're connecting to Wi-Fi, using or connecting to shared or public computers, or to Bluetooth. 

Social media can also be risky in destinations where there are social or political tensions or laws that may seem unreasonable by Australian standards. Travellers have been arrested for things they have said on social media. Don't comment on local or political events on your social media. 

More information:   

  • Cyber security when travelling overseas  

Kidnapping  is common in parts of the Northern Caucasus.

It can be for:

  • political purposes
  • retribution

Foreigners have been targeted in the past.

If, despite the risks, you travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping:

  • get professional security advice

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it doesn't make payments or concessions to kidnappers.

Climate and natural disasters

Severe weather  during winter can disrupt travel in Russia.

To protect yourself from accidents caused by severe weather:

  • take care when walking in snowy, icy or windy conditions
  • take care when driving
  • use appropriate driving equipment, such as winter tyres or chains
  • monitor the media and other sources for updates

If you're delayed, contact local authorities about a visa extension if required.

In April, severe flooding affected multiple settlements across Russia in the South Urals region east of Moscow, in Western Siberia and near the Volga River. 

Snow and ice

People are injured or killed yearly in wind, snow and ice-related accidents. These include:

  • traffic accidents
  • collapsed roofs and snow falling from roofs 
  • falling debris 
  • prolonged exposure to extreme cold

Slipping on ice can result in serious injuries, such as broken bones, back injuries or paralysis.

During summer, forest and peat  fires  can occur in Russia, including in the Moscow region.

Earthquakes and tsunamis

The North Caucasus and the far eastern region of Russia can experience  earthquakes .

Tsunamis  are common in all oceanic regions of the world.

To protect yourself from natural disasters, take official warnings seriously.

If a  natural disaster  occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Get updates on major disasters from the  Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System .

Travel insurance

Most Australian travel insurance policies won't cover you for travel to Russia. Do not travel to Russia. See ' Safety '

If you're not insured, you may have to pay thousands of dollars up-front for medical care.

Physical and mental health

Do not travel to Russia. If, despite our advice, you travel to Russia, consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition. 

See your doctor or travel clinic to:

  • have a basic health check-up
  • ask if your travel plans may affect your health
  • plan any vaccinations you need

Do this at least eight weeks before you leave.

If you have immediate concerns for your welfare or the welfare of another Australian, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or contact your  nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate  to discuss counselling hotlines and services available in your location.

  • General health advice  (World Health Organization)
  • Healthy holiday tips  (Healthdirect Australia)

Medications

Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor. 

Russia has imposed temporary restrictions on exporting certain categories of goods, including foreign-made medical products. 

If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Russia. Take enough legal medication for your trip.

Russia has strict laws about the import and use of medications. This includes medications that are available over the counter in Australia, such as cold and flu tablets.

When you arrive in Russia, you must present a doctor's letter to authorities confirming your need for each medication. This is the case if your medications contain the following:

  • barbiturate
  • sibutramine
  • anabolic steroids
  • androgens and other sex hormones
  • analgesic, such as tramadol
  • psychostimulants
  • other restricted substances

The letter must:

  • contain a description of the medication, including the chemical composition
  • describe the required dosage
  • explain the underlying medical condition
  • confirm the medicine is for personal use only
  • be signed by your treating doctor

You must also have a notarised translation of the letter into Russian.

Before you leave Australia, contact the Embassy of Russia for the latest rules for bringing medicines into Russia.

  • Russian Government website

Health risks

Tick-borne diseases.

Tick-borne encephalitis  (World Health Organization) and other tick-borne diseases are a risk, especially if you travel through forested areas.

Ticks are common in rural areas from spring to autumn: April to October.

People have reported increased incidents of tick-borne encephalitis.

Measles cases can routinely occur in Russia, with the country currently experiencing increased measles activity. Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date before you travel.

  • Measles immunisation service  (Department of Health and Aged Care)

Bird flu (avian influenza)

Avian influenza  is a risk in Russia.

HIV/AIDS  is a risk.

Take steps to reduce your risk of exposure to the virus.

There has been a reported increase in  rabies  across Russia.

Rabies is deadly. Humans can get rabies from mammals, such as:

  • other animals

If you're bitten or scratched by a dog, monkey or other animal, get treatment as soon as possible.

Other health risks

Waterborne, foodborne, parasitic and other  infectious diseases  are common, including these listed by the World Health Organization:

  • measles  
  • tuberculosis

Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.

To protect yourself from illness:

  • drink boiled water or bottled water with sealed lids
  • avoid ice cubes
  • avoid uncooked and undercooked food, such as salads
  • avoid unpasteurised dairy products

Get urgent medical attention if you have a fever or diarrhoea or suspect food poisoning.

Medical facilities

Public medical facilities in Russian cities are below Australian standards.

Standards are extremely basic in rural areas.

There are a few international-standard private facilities in major cities – these clinics can be very expensive to access.

Before you're treated, private facilities need either:

  • up-front payment
  • evidence of adequate insurance
  • a written guarantee of payment

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to get proper care. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.

In July, the Russian President signed a decree banning gender changes, including gender transition surgery, hormone therapy and changing gender on official documents without medical requirements. The law also annuls marriages in which one person "changed gender" and prevents transgender couples from adopting children.

In November 2022, Russia's parliament passed a law banning "LGBT propaganda", criminalising any act regarded as an attempt to promote what Russia calls "non-traditional sexual relations". Sharing information or public display of any material promoting "non-traditional relationships" is now a serious criminal offence.

In November 2022, Russia announced that the partial mobilisation of military reservists for the conflict in Ukraine was complete. However, a decree formalising the completion has not been issued. The Russian Government may subject males it regards as Russian to mobilisation, regardless of any other citizenship held. Laws introducing heavy penalties for 'crimes against military service' have been passed. The Australian Government will not be able to intervene if you are subjected to mobilisation.

The US Government issued travel advice in March 2022 advising that Russian security services have arrested US citizens on spurious charges, singled out US citizens in Russia for detention and/or harassment, denied them fair and transparent treatment, and have convicted them in secret trials and/or without presenting credible evidence. The US Government warns that Russian officials may unreasonably delay consular assistance to detained US citizens.

Russian authorities have introduced criminal liability for publishing and distributing 'deliberately misleading' information about the Russian armed forces and any military operations. These laws have been interpreted and applied very broadly to many forms of dissent.

Law enforcement agencies in Russia cooperate closely with agencies in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. If you commit an offence in one of these countries, you may be detained in another (including at the border) and extradited for prosecution. 

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our  Consular Services Charter . But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Russian authorities imposed restrictions on real estate and foreign currency transactions for foreign residents. These restrictions can be revised at short notice. Seek advice from local authorities.

Possessing, selling, consuming, or carrying any illegal drugs is illegal.

Penalties are severe and include long prison terms.

Russia has strict rules around medication carried into the country for personal use, including some medications that you can get over the counter in Australia.

If you don't declare restricted medications, authorities could detain you. See  Health .

  • Carrying or using drugs

Routine police checks are common in public places.

Carry your passport, visa and migration card with you at all times. Authorities won't accept copies.

If you can't provide travel documentation on request, authorities can detain and fine you.

In Russia, it's illegal to:

  • take photos of military places, strategic sites and other sensitive areas, such as passport control and guarded railway sites
  • use commercial film, television or camera equipment in public areas without permission, but hand-held home video cameras are allowed
  • use drones without permission from the Russian aviation authority.

Penalties for breaching the law include fines, jail and deportation.

Russia regulates religious activity. Authorities restrict activities such as preaching and distributing religious materials.

If you plan to engage in religious activity, ensure you're not breaking local laws.

Contact the Embassy or Consulate of Russia for more information.

Cybersecurity laws

Russia has blocked or restricted some social media platforms and websites, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Russia has banned certain Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and has indicated it will implement a nationwide ban on VPNs in March 2025.

  • Cyber security when travelling overseas
  • Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor)

Official documents

Some Australian documents, such as birth or marriage certificates, need to be  legalised  before Russian authorities will accept them.

If you have an Australian document that you need to use while in Russia, contact the Embassy or Consulate of Russia for information.

Apostilles  and some legal certificates can be issued by:

  • DFAT  in Australia
  • Australian embassies and high commissions  overseas

Surrogacy laws

Russia has laws governing child surrogacy and has passed legislation banning surrogacy for all foreigners except those married to Russian citizens. Recent court cases have resulted in long custodial sentences for some providers of surrogacy services. All children born through surrogacy in Russia are granted Russian citizenship, regardless of their parent's citizenship.

Get independent legal advice before making surrogacy arrangements in Russia or with residents of Russia.

  • Going overseas for international surrogacy
  • Going overseas to adopt a child

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.

  • Staying within the law and respecting customs

Dual nationality

Russia doesn't recognise dual nationality.

In November 2022, Russia announced that the partial mobilisation of military reservists for the conflict in Ukraine was complete. However, a decree formalising the completion hasn't been issued. Russia may subject males it regards as Russian to mobilisation, regardless of any other citizenship held. Laws introducing heavy penalties for 'crimes against military service' have been passed. The Australian Government won't be able to intervene if you are subjected to mobilisation.

Conscription occurs regularly, and Russia may subject males it regards as Russian to mandatory conscription, regardless of any other citizenship held. Conscription in Russia occurs semi-annually, and conscripts typically serve one year. From 1 January 2024, the maximum conscription age will change from 27 to 30 years old. Russian authorities have also passed laws allowing for the draft notice to be serviced to the conscripts online and preventing conscripts from leaving the country once the notice is registered and sent.

Russian authorities won't recognise your Australian nationality if you're a dual national. They will treat you like any other national of Russia.

If you're a dual national:

  • you must enter and leave Russia on a Russian passport
  • you can enter Russia using a repatriation certificate (svidetelstvo na vozvrashcheniye) if you don't have a Russian passport, but you must still leave Russia on a Russian passport
  • you must declare any other nationalities or foreign residency permits to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • you could be conscripted into the Russian military if you're a male between the ages of 18 and 30 

If you're a dual national, this limits the  consular services  we can give if you're arrested or detained.

Contact the  Embassy or Consulate of Russia  well before any planned travel to Russia.

Dual nationals can't leave Russia without a valid Russian passport.

You'll need to get a new Russian passport before you leave if:

  • your Russian passport expires while you're in Russia
  • you enter Russia using a repatriation certificate

Getting a new Russian passport for non-residents is complex and can take up to 3 months. The Australian Government is unable to intervene or fast-track this process.

Children born outside Russia and added to their parents' Russian passports need their own passport to leave Russia.

If you're travelling alone with a child, Russian border authorities may require the following:

  • documentary evidence of your relationship to the child
  • written permission for the child to travel from the non-travelling parent
  • Dual nationals

Local customs

Same-sex relationships are legal in Russia but not widely accepted.

Intolerance towards the LGBTI community is common, particularly outside Moscow and St Petersburg.

People have reported violence against members of the LGBTI community, including by local security forces.

In April 2017, there were reports of arrests and violence against LGBTI people in Chechnya.

In November 2022, Russia passed a law banning "LGBT propaganda", criminalising any act regarded as an attempt to promote what Russia calls "non-traditional sexual relations". Sharing or displaying material promoting "non-traditional relationships" is now a serious criminal offence. The bill broadens the existing law banning the promotion of 'non-traditional sexual relationships' to minors.

  • Advice for LGBTI travellers

Visas and border measures

Every country or territory decides who can enter or leave through its borders. For specific information about the evidence you'll need to enter a foreign destination, check with the nearest embassy, consulate or immigration department of the destination you're entering. 

Australia and other countries have placed sanctions on Russia. Russia's response to these sanctions may disrupt travel and affect travellers.

You need a visa to enter Russia unless you're travelling on certain commercial cruise ships.

You can't get a visa on arrival.

If you arrive in Russia without a valid visa, authorities will fine, detain and deport you at your own expense. They may bar you from re-entering.

Make sure you apply for the correct visa type, such as 'tourist' and 'visitor' visas.

If your visa type doesn't match the purpose of your visit, authorities may:

  • not let you enter 

You may need to provide biometric fingerprints for the visa application process.

After you get your Russian visa, check your passport details are correct, including the following:

  • passport number
  • date of birth
  • intention of stay
  • validity dates

If there are errors, return your passport to the  Russian Embassy or Consulate  for correction.

It's impossible to amend visa details once you're in Russia.

Discuss your travel plans with your cruise operator before you travel to check if you need a visa.

Check transit visa requirements if you transit through Russia to a third country.

  • Russian Embassy
  • Going on a cruise

Border measures

If, despite our advice, you decide to enter Russia, expect thorough security checks at the border, including questioning and inspections of electronic devices.

Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the nearest  embassy or consulate  for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.

Australians sanctioned by Russia

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued statements on its website advising that, in response to Australian sanctions, the Russian Government had added several Australians to a 'stop list', denying them entry into Russia on an indefinite basis.  

These statements can be viewed here (copy and paste the URL into a new browser if you can't open the link):

  • 17 April 2024 statement – https://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/1944697/ (in Russian)
  • 21 June 2023 statement -   https://mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1890258/
  • 16 September 2022 statement  -  https://mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/1830085/  (in Russian)
  • 21 July 2022 statement  -  https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1823204/
  • 16 June 2022 statement  -  https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1818118/
  • 7 April 2022 statement  -  https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1808465/

DFAT can't provide advice on the implications of another country's sanctions. If you're listed, you should obtain legal advice if you have concerns about the potential impacts of the Russian sanctions. Do not travel to Russia if you're on Russia's 'stop list'. 

Other formalities

Migration card.

All foreign visitors receive a migration card on arrival in Russia.

If you receive a paper migration card, keep the stamped exit portion of the card with your passport.

The migration card covers both Russia and Belarus. You must show the stamped card to passport control when leaving either country.

If you lose your migration card:

  • your departure could be delayed
  • you could be stopped from staying at a hotel in Russia

You can get a replacement from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is complex and could delay your departure.

Biometric fingerprinting

Foreign citizens entering Russia for work or intending to stay over 90 calendar days may be subject to biometric fingerprinting and regular medical check-ups. The procedure of biometric fingerprinting will need to be done only once. Medical check-ups will need to be re-taken upon the certificate's expiry (valid for 1 year).

Travel with children

If you're  travelling with a child , you may need to show evidence of parental, custodial or permission rights. This is particularly the case for dual nationals. See  Local laws

  • Advice for people travelling with children

Electronics

The government strictly controls the import of electrical and some high-technology equipment.

The rules are complex.

You may import terminal global positioning systems (GPS) devices if you declare them on arrival. However, you'll need a special permit to import a GPS device connected to a computer or an antenna.

Authorities can detain you if you don't have a permit.

You must show proof of advanced approval to import a satellite phone. Request approval from the  Federal Service for the Supervision of Communications .

Russian border officials can demand to inspect any electronic device, including installed software when you leave.

Travel between Russia and Belarus

Do not travel to Russia and Belarus due to the security environment and impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. If you’re in Russia or Belarus, leave immediately using the limited commercial options available or private means if it's safe to do so.

If, despite our advice, you decide to enter Belarus from Russia, note that the government doesn't allow foreigners to cross the land border between Russia and Belarus.

If you travel between Russia and Belarus, it must be by air.

If you're travelling between Russia and Belarus, you must have visas for both countries.

Visa-free entry into Belarus doesn't apply to travellers arriving from or travelling to Russia.

Contact the  Embassy of Russia  and the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus  for details.

Registering your stay in Russia

If you stay more than 7 working days, including your arrival and departure day, you must register with the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

You have to pay a registration fee.

Most hotels do this for their guests, but you're legally responsible. Confirm with check-in staff on arrival that they've registered you.

The registration process can be complex if you're not staying at a hotel.

Register at the nearest post office if you're travelling on a visitor visa.

Register through your employer if you're travelling on a visa that lets you work. Confirm with your employer that they've registered you.

If you don't register, authorities can fine you or delay your departure.

  • The Russian Embassy

Visa overstays

Make sure you leave Russia before your visa expires. Some visas, including tourist visas, can't be extended.

If you overstay your visa, you won't be allowed to leave Russia until the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs determines your legal status or deports you.

Authorities can detain you until they've processed your case.

Penalties for overstaying include fines and deportation.

You may be banned from re-entering.

Exporting goods

Russia has imposed temporary restrictions on exporting certain categories of goods, including foreign-made medical products. Seek advice from local authorities.

Russia has strict regulations on the export of antiques, artworks and items of historical significance. This is for items purchased in Russia or imported to Russia from overseas. It includes modern art and posters if they are particularly rare or valuable.

Authorities may not allow the export of items more than 100 years old.

If you want to export any antiques, artworks or items of historical significance:

  • keep receipts of your purchases
  • obtain an export permit from the Ministry of Culture in advance of travel — export permits aren't issued at the airport
  • declare each item to border authorities when you leave Russia
  • be ready to show each item to border authorities
  • be ready to show receipts for each item to border authorities

Don't try to export items requiring permits without the relevant paperwork. This is a serious offence.

Legislation about the export of artwork and antiques from Russia may change without warning.

Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.

Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.

You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than six months.

The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting  a new passport .

Lost or stolen passport

Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.

Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:

  • In Australia, contact the  Australian Passport Information Service .
  • If you're overseas, contact the nearest  Australian embassy or consulate .

If your passport is lost or stolen while ashore, you will need to obtain an emergency passport and an exit visa to leave Russia within the 72-hour visa-free period. If it’s not done within 72 hours, you will face a court hearing and possible fine, deportation and entry ban.

To arrange a new visa:

  • obtain an official police report
  • apply for a replacement passport through the  Australian Embassy in Moscow
  • apply to Russian authorities for an exit visa
  • include the police report with your application

If you replace your passport while in Russia, make sure authorities transfer your visa to the new passport.

Passport with 'X' gender identifier

Although Australian passports comply with international standards for sex and gender, we can't guarantee that a passport showing 'X' in the sex field will be accepted for entry or transit by another country. Contact the nearest  embassy, high commission or consulate of your destination  before you arrive at the border to confirm if authorities will accept passports with 'X' gender markers. 

More information:  

  •       LGBTI travellers  

The currency of Russia is the Rouble (RUB).

Russian authorities have imposed temporary restrictions on the export of foreign currency in cash out of Russia. Travellers exiting Russia can't take more than the equivalent of $US10,000 in cash.

Make sure a customs official stamps your declaration. Only stamped declarations are valid.

You must carry proof that your funds were imported and declared or legally obtained in Russia.

Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mastercard, Visa, and American Express have suspended operations in Russia. Cards issued outside of Russia will not work at Russian merchants or ATMs. Cards issued inside Russia may continue to work, but they won't work outside Russia. It may not be possible for you to access your funds through Russian banks or to make payments to Russian businesses with non-Russian credit/debit cards. Be prepared with alternate means of payment should your cards be declined.

You may not be able to exchange Australian dollars as well as old, worn or damaged US dollar and euro banknotes into Russian rubles in Russia. Ensure you have enough money to cover your stay in Russia. 

Traveller's cheques aren't widely accepted, even in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Local travel

Postal services between Russia and Australia are temporarily suspended. 

More information 

  • Australia Post website

Confirm with your transport operator that services are still operating if you plan to depart Russia. Commercial travel routes between Russia and Europe are disrupted. Expect thorough security checks at the border, including questioning and inspections of electronic devices.

Flights between Russia and Europe have been affected by measures taken in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Several Russian airports are now closed to the public, disrupting internal flights to and from Moscow and other cities. The train and bus service between St Petersburg and Helsinki is suspended.

Finland  has closed border crossings with Russia indefinitely and maritime borders will close on 15 April. 

Latvia introduced an entry ban on vehicles registered in Russia in September 2023. More information can be found on the  State Revenue Service website . There's a ban on vehicles crossing into/from Estonia at the Ivangorod-Narva crossing. Train service is also suspended. Entry and exit on foot will still be allowed. Additional restrictions or entry requirements could be imposed or changed suddenly. Be aware that some borders may close without notice. 

If you're travelling through an overland border crossing into  Estonia  or  Latvia , confirm the entry requirements for your destination before arrival.

Australia and other countries have placed sanctions on Russia. Russia's response to these sanctions may disrupt travel and affect travellers. Confirm entry requirements for your  destination  before arrival, as additional restrictions or entry requirements could be imposed or changed suddenly.

If, despite our advice, you decide to go to Chechnya or the North Caucasus, you must first get permission from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Several other areas of Russia, especially in Siberia and the Russian Far East, are also 'closed' areas.

Foreigners need government permission to enter 'closed' areas.

If you need government permission or are unsure if you need it, contact the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Driving permit

You should carry an International Driving Permit (IDP).

You may drive with an Australian driver's license if you carry it with a notarised Russian translation.

Road travel

Driving in Russia can be hazardous due to:

  • poor driving standards
  • ice and snow in winter
  • poor road conditions in rural areas

The blood alcohol limit for drivers is 0%.

  • Driving or riding
  • the Russian Embassy

Some taxis appear official but aren't licensed by local authorities.

People have reported extortion and  robbery  while taking unauthorised taxis. See  Safety

Book an official taxi by phone, at major hotels and from inside airports.

Flights from Russia to other countries are limited. These may change or be suspended at short notice. You should contact airlines or travel agents directly for the most current information.

The  EU announced  that 21 Russian-owned airlines were banned from flying in EU airspace due to safety concerns.

Russian airlines and railways may be affected by shortages of parts and essential technical components for their fleets, affecting maintenance and safety standards. If you're flying domestically or internationally, research your aviation provider before choosing their services.

DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.

Check Russia's air safety profile with the  Aviation Safety Network

Emergencies

Depending on what you need, contact your:

  • family and friends
  • travel agent
  • insurance provider

Always get a police report when you report a crime.

Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Consular contacts

Read the  Consular Services Charter  for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

For consular help, contact the Australian Embassy in Moscow.  Our ability to provide consular assistance in Russia is limited. The Australian Government will not be able to evacuate you from Russia.

Australian Embassy, Moscow

13 Kropotkinsky Pereulok Moscow 119034 Russia Phone: (+7 495) 956-6070  Fax: (+7 495) 956-6170  Website:  russia.embassy.gov.au Twitter:  @PosolAustralia

If you're in St Petersburg, you can also contact the Australian Consulate for limited consular help.

Australian Consulate, St Petersburg

Moika 11 St Petersburg 191186 Russia Tel: (+7 964) 333 7572 (NOT for visas) Email:  [email protected]  (NOT for visas)

Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.

24-hour Consular Emergency Centre

Australians in need of consular assistance should contact the Australian Government 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre:

  • +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
  • 1300 555 135 in Australia

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COVID-19: travel health notice for all travellers

Russia travel advice

Latest updates: Editorial change

Last updated: May 23, 2024 08:00 ET

On this page

Safety and security, entry and exit requirements, laws and culture, natural disasters and climate, russia - avoid all travel.

The armed conflict in Ukraine has led to armed incursions and shelling in areas close to the Russian-Ukrainian border. Drone strikes, explosions, and fires have occurred further into Russia’s interior. The impacts of the armed conflict with Ukraine could also include:

  • partial military mobilization
  • restrictions on financial transactions
  • increasingly limited flight options

If you are in Russia, you should leave while commercial means are still available. If you remain in Russia, maintain a low profile. Canadians holding Russian citizenship may be subject to call-up for mandatory military service.

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Terrorist attack in Krasnogorsk, Moscow Oblast

On March 22, 2024, a terrorist attack occurred at the Crocus City Hall, a concert venue in Krasnogorsk, just outside central Moscow. There are reports of gunfire and explosions. The incident resulted in multiple casualties and fires continue to burn around the site of the attack.

Local authorities have cordoned off the affected area and have cancelled upcoming mass gatherings in Moscow. Further attacks could occur at any time.

If you are in Moscow Oblast:

  • avoid the affected area
  • follow the instructions of local authorities
  • exercise extreme caution in public and avoid large gatherings
  • contact the Embassy of Canada to Russia, in Moscow, if you require consular emergency assistance

Armed conflict with Ukraine

On June 24, 2023, there were reports of military tensions in the Rostov region.

Flight availability, already reduced following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, continues to be subject to unpredictable and significant limitations. If you are in Russia, you should leave while commercial means are still available.

Some financial transactions, including those with Canadian major credit and ATM cards, are not possible. As a result, you may not be able to use your credit card for purchases within Russia or to withdraw cash at an ATM. Availability of essential services may also be affected.

Communications related to the current situation are scrutinized by local authorities. You may face heavy consequences if you discuss, share or publish information related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Foreign journalists and other media workers in Russia may also face considerable risks.

Security conditions are unpredictable and could deteriorate without notice. The ability of our Embassy to provide consular services in Russia may become severely limited.

There have been armed incursions and shelling in areas close to the Russian-Ukrainian border, notably in Bryansk and Belgorod Oblasts. Drone strikes, explosions and fires have also occurred at key infrastructure sites and military installations further into Russia's interior and in cities, including in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

You may encounter an increased security presence with potential disruptions to transport and movement, especially in areas near Russian military installations.

Avoid all travel to Russia. If you decide to remain despite this advisory, be aware that:

  • you may have to stay in Russia longer than expected
  • you may be affected by shortages of essential products and services
  • you may not be able to use your banking cards for payment or to withdraw funds
  • you should not depend on the Government of Canada to help you leave the country

Additionally, while you remain in Russia, you should:

  • review your personal security plans on a daily basis
  • keep a low profile
  • refrain from discussing political developments in public or online
  • avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • make sure you have an adequate supply of cash, essential items and medications
  • avoid any area where there are military installations or activity
  • monitor trustworthy news sources to stay informed on the evolving situation
  • make sure your travel documents are up-to-date, including those of your family
  • contact your air company to check on flight availability
  • communicate your travel plans to family and friends
  • register and update your contact information through the Registration of Canadians Abroad service and encourage other Canadian citizens in Russia to do so

Rostov Oblast

The Russian government has declared a state of emergency and maintains a significant military presence in Rostov Oblast. The situation along the Ukrainian border is unpredictable and could change quickly. Exercise extreme vigilance if you must travel to this region, as armed clashes and violence pose serious threats to your safety. If you are currently in this area, you should strongly consider leaving. The ability of the Embassy of Canada to Russia in Moscow to provide consular assistance in this district is extremely limited.

Republics of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, and Stavropol Krai

Terrorist attacks are frequent in the Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia republics and Stavropol region. The security situation is unstable and dangerous. Suicide bombings occur on a regular basis and targeted assassinations have also taken place. Unexploded mines and munitions are widespread. Kidnapping for ransom is also common.

You must obtain special permission from the Ministry of the Interior to enter certain areas and regions.

Republics of Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Mount Elbrus region), Karachai-Cherkessia and North Ossetia

Tensions are high in Russia’s border regions with Georgia and may affect the security situation in Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachai-Cherkessia and North Ossetia republics. Military operations are carried out with little or no notice, and are accompanied by travel restrictions. The border crossings to Azerbaijan and Georgia are subject to frequent, sometimes lengthy closures.

There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist groups have called for attacks on Russian soil. Incidents resulting in death and injury have occurred most frequently in the North Caucasus region, Moscow and St. Petersburg, but may happen throughout the country. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time.

Targets could include:

  • government buildings, including schools
  • cultural venues, including concert halls, nightclubs, and event centres
  • places of worship
  • Russian airlines, airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners

Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.

Russian authorities have increased general security measures in Moscow and other large cities.

Violent crime

Crime against foreigners is a serious problem. Harassment and assaults are prevalent, particularly against foreigners of Asian and African descent. Some victims have died as a result of assaults. Foreigners in the areas to which we advise against all travel are particularly vulnerable. Several journalists and foreign aid personnel working in Russia have been killed or kidnapped. Criminals have targeted and destroyed well-marked aid convoys. Exercise extreme caution in crowds and open markets.

Petty crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs frequently and is often committed by groups of children and teenagers. Criminals use various techniques to distract the victims, including requests for help. In such situations, walk away quickly. Preferred areas for criminals include:

  • underground walkways
  • public transportation and transportation hubs
  • tourist sites
  • restaurants and markets
  • hotel rooms and residences (even when occupied and locked)

Reduce your risk of being targeted by travelling in groups with reputable tour agencies.

Avoid showing signs of affluence and ensure personal belongings, including passports and other travel documents, are secure at all times. Replacing travel documents and visas is difficult, and could considerably delay your return to Canada.

Criminal strategies

Criminals may also pose as police officers, particularly in St. Petersburg. Real police officers wear a visible personal identification number on their uniforms. Bogus checkpoints may be set up in rural areas to commit robbery.

Demonstrations and elections

Demonstrations take place. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for the latest information

Due to heightened political tensions, be vigilant and don’t discuss political developments in public.

Useful links

  • More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
  • Laws regarding minors involved in demonstrations

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula

Tensions on the neighbouring Korean Peninsula could escalate with little notice and the security situation could deteriorate suddenly. Tensions may increase before, during and after North Korean nuclear and missile tests, military exercises or as the result of incidents or military activities at or near the inter-Korean border. Monitor developments, remain vigilant and follow the instructions of local authorities. 

Spiked food and drinks

Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

There have been cases of foreigners developing friendships or romantic relationships over the Internet and becoming entangled in financial issues in Russia. Remain vigilant and be aware that we can’t help you recover lost funds or property in such cases.

Only exchange money at major banks. Foreigners have been scammed in the past when exchanging money on the street.

Traffic police may stop motorists to collect fraudulent cash fines on the spot.

Credit card and automated banking machine (ABM) fraud occurs. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:

  • pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
  • use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
  • avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
  • cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
  • check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements

Overseas fraud

Organized crime

Organized criminal groups are active throughout Russia, particularly in large cities. Extortion and corruption are common business practices, including among foreign businesses. Criminals demand protection money from their victims under threat of serious violence. Report extortion attempts to Russian authorities.

Surveillance

Authorities may place foreigners under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones, fax machines and e-mail messages may be monitored. Personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched.

Power outages

Power outages and shortages occur often throughout Russia.

2SLGBTQI+ travellers

Discrimination against 2SLGBTQI+ individuals is common.

2SLGBTQI+ travellers, as well as their friends and families, have been targets of harassment and violence, particularly outside of Moscow.

Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

Road safety

Road conditions vary and are often poor outside major cities.

Drivers don’t respect traffic laws and often drive and park on pedestrian areas. Accidents are common. Pedestrians should be particularly careful. In the event of an accident, don’t move the vehicle until the police arrive, even if the car is obstructing traffic.

Drive only during the day.

In winter, road travel can be hazardous due to ice and snow.

Public transportation

When travelling by train, store valuables in a safe place and don’t leave the compartment unattended. Lock the door from the inside.

Most major cities have reliable public transportation including buses, subways or streetcars.

Use only registered taxis and don’t share a taxi with strangers. Foreigners have been victims of assault and robbery when using unregistered taxis.

Book taxis in advance either by phone or through taxi company apps. Avoid flagging down taxis on the street, but if you do, negotiate the price before getting into the taxi.

Marine transportation

Boat accidents are common due to the overloading and poor maintenance of some vessels. Safety standards differ from those in Canada. Exercise caution and common sense when using marine transportation. Don’t board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

Information about foreign domestic airlines

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

We have obtained the information on this page from the Russian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with the  Foreign Representatives in Canada .

border_crossings_with_finland

Border crossings with Finland

Finnish authorities have closed border crossings along the land border with Russia. As of December 15, 2023, all land border crossings are closed.

Contact information and hours of operation – Finnish Border Guard

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.

Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Regular Canadian passport

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Russia.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Other travel documents

Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

  • Foreign Representatives in Canada
  • Canadian passports

Tourist visa: required for stays in commercial accommodations (exceptions apply) Guest visa: required for stays in private accommodations Business visa: required Student visa: required Transit visa: required (exceptions apply) Exit visa: required

You must be submitted your visa request online to the Embassy of the Russian Federation.

Foreign visitors must leave Russia once the visa validity period has ended. To extend a visa, a foreign national must arrange with the territorial units of the migration service authorities prior to the validity end date to start the extension process.

Embassy of the Russian Federation

Tourist visa

You need a tourist visa if you are staying at a hotel or other commercial establishment. Ensure that the hotel registers your visa when you check in.

It is best if you book your travel through a travel agency, which will submit a tourist visa application on your behalf. Canadian travel agents work with Russian travel agencies or companies, which act as sponsors for tourist visas.

In cases of expired tourist visas or lost or stolen Canadian passports, only the visa-sponsoring travel agency is authorized to apply for a new tourist visa on your behalf. Extensions are not issued. Holders of expired visas face heavy fines or detention upon departure.

Guest visas

You need a guest visa if you intend to stay in private accommodations. The host must obtain an official invitation (priglashenie) from the nearest Russian visa and passport office (UFMS) and send it to you in Canada. You must then take the invitation, the visa application and your passport to a Russian embassy or consulate to apply for the visa.

Foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada

Business visa

To get a business visa, you need to be sponsored by a Russian individual or organization (the host). It may take up to 3 months for the host to obtain approval for sponsorship from the Ministry of the Interior. Any subsequent change (replacement or extension) to the original visa must be made by the sponsor. A business visa is not a work permit.

You must have a valid visa to be allowed to leave Russia. If your visa expires, your sponsor must apply for an exit visa on your behalf. To avoid problems, including deportation, make sure your visa is valid beyond your intended departure date.

Visa exceptions

Contact your cruise company to find out if you need to apply for a Russian visa before your cruise starts. International cruise passengers may enter Russia at specific port cities without a visa for up to 72 hours. Your cruise ship tour guide must have all the authorizations required for your entry by the Russian authorities. While in Russia, make sure that you’re able to contact your cruise ship tour guide at any time, in case of emergency or any issue with local authorities.

Some Russian international airports have transit areas that allow for visa-free travel through Russia. If you plan to transit through Russia, check with your transportation carrier to see if transit visa exceptions apply to you.

Migration card

You must complete a migration card upon your arrival in Russia. These cards are usually distributed on flights and trains entering Russia or at points of entry, but sometimes they are not available, even at major international airports. Even if that’s the case, you are responsible to find a migration card and fill it out. You must keep and carry part B of the migration card throughout your stay. The card is required for hotel registration.

If the police request to see your migration card, you must comply. You must present it, your passport and your registered visa. You must also present the card to border officials upon departure.

If you hold a multiple-entry visa, you must fill out a new migration card every time you enter Russia.

Loss of this card can result in fines, serious delays or imprisonment at the time of departure.

Registration

All foreign visitors must register their arrival within 72 hours of entering the country (excluding weekends and national holidays). If you have made accommodation arrangements with a hotel for your entire trip, the hotel will take care of registering your stay with the authorities.

Visitors staying in private accommodations must register with the territorial office of the Federal Migration Service. Any Russian citizen with a resident registration (propiska) can register a foreigner staying at their home at a local police station or any post office. A small registration fee may apply. The visitor’s host must be present during the process.

Violation of the rules of migration registration may result in a fine. In some cases, visitors may face expulsion from Russia and a ban from re-entering of up to 5 years. 

Customs declaration form

Upon arrival in Russia, you must fill out a customs declaration form, then go through the red customs line and have the form stamped by a customs official. Without the stamp, any undeclared currency and valuables—including items that could be considered antique—may be confiscated upon departure.

You must declare amounts of currency exceeding US$10,000 at border crossings. You may also have to provide information on the origin of the money and its intended use. Currency exceeding the amount stated on the declaration form will be confiscated if you have not obtained an official bank receipt authorizing the clearance of these sums. The declaration form must be kept until departure.

Upon departure, you must fill out a second customs declaration form and present the two forms to a customs official. You must declare any amount greater than RUB3,000. If you fail to declare, in writing, the amount of currency in your possession, the undeclared currency and valuables may be confiscated and you may be detained and face criminal charges leading to imprisonment.

Special permits and restricted areas

Travel to and residency in several Russian cities and regions is restricted. You must obtain permission from local authorities prior to entering a restricted city or region. Failure to do so may result in arrest, fines and/or deportation. Attach an itinerary to your visa application to avoid delays. Some areas must be specifically indicated in the visa, and you may have to pay an extra fee to include them.

Passport requirements for individuals holding both Canadian and Russian citizenships

If you have dual citizenship, you must enter and leave Russia on a Russian passport.

If your Russian passport expires prior travelling to Russia, Russian authorities in Canada can extend it for entry into Russia only. If the passport expires during your stay in Russia, you must obtain a new one before leaving. Renewing a Russian passport may take several months.

If you enter Russia with a repatriation certificate issued by Russian authorities abroad, you may not be allowed to leave on a Canadian passport. This certificate is only valid for one-way travel into Russia.

Entry ban on vehicles with Russian license plates

In September 2023, the Baltic States (Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania) and Finland announced a ban on vehicles with Russian license plates entering their respective territories. The ban is enforced at the border as a result of existing European Union sanctions on the Russian Federation. Lithuania will allow an exception for travellers able to prove transit to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

Other countries from the EU or the Schengen area have introduced similar bans. You should confirm with local authorities before travelling to the EU or Schengen area.  

Land border with Belarus

Only local residents are allowed to travel by land from Russia to Belarus. This restriction applies to cars, tour buses and trains.

Health entry requirements

If you are planning to remain in Russia for more than 3 months, you must provide a medical certificate of a negative test for HIV infection. The certificate must be valid for 3 months from the date of testing and include:

  • passport details (full name, date of birth, passport number and country of residence)
  • HIV test information (date of test, test results and signatures of the doctor who performed the test and the person examined)
  • the length of your intended stay in Russia

Other tests (such as for tuberculosis and leprosy) may be required for individuals staying in Russia for more than 3 months.

Children and travel

Learn more about travelling with children .

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

Relevant Travel Health Notices

  • Global Measles Notice - 13 March, 2024
  • COVID-19 and International Travel - 13 March, 2024

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your  routine vaccinations , as per your province or territory , are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.

Recommendation

  • Vaccination is not recommended.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada

There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

Practise  safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a risk in some areas of this destination. It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It is spread to humans by the bite of infected ticks or occasionally when unpasteurized milk products are consumed.

Travellers to areas where TBE is found may be at higher risk  during April to November, and the risk is highest for people who hike or camp in forested areas.

Protect yourself from tick bites . The vaccine is not available in Canada. It may be available in the destination you are travelling to.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain.  It is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is very low for most travellers. Travellers at relatively higher risk may want to consider vaccination for JE prior to travelling.

Travellers are at higher risk if they will be:

  • travelling long term (e.g. more than 30 days)
  • making multiple trips to endemic areas
  • staying for extended periods in rural areas
  • visiting an area suffering a JE outbreak
  • engaging in activities involving high contact with mosquitos (e.g., entomologists)

  Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

In this destination, rabies is carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions , including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. Rabies treatment is often available in this destination. 

Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals). 

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.

The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that can cause fever, pain and bleeding under the skin.  In some cases, it can be fatal.  It spreads to humans through contact with infected animal blood or tissues, or from the bite of an infected tick.  Risk is generally low for most travellers.  Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals, particularly livestock.  There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Human cases of avian influenza have been reported in this destination. Avian influenza   is a viral infection that can spread quickly and easily among birds and in rare cases it can infect mammals, including people. The risk is low for most travellers.

Avoid contact with birds, including wild, farm, and backyard birds (alive or dead) and surfaces that may have bird droppings on them. Ensure all poultry dishes, including eggs and wild game, are properly cooked.

Travellers with a higher risk of exposure include those: 

  • visiting live bird/animal markets or poultry farms
  • working with poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, domestic ducks)
  • hunting, de-feathering, field dressing and butchering wild birds and wild mammals
  • working with wild birds for activities such as research, conservation, or rehabilitation
  • working with wild mammals, especially those that eat wild birds (e.g., foxes)

All eligible people are encouraged to get the seasonal influenza shot, which will protect them against human influenza viruses. While the seasonal influenza shot does not prevent infection with avian influenza, it can reduce the chance of getting sick with human and avian influenza viruses at the same time.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette , which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •   washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) , HIV , and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.

Medical services and facilities

Good health care is only available in major cities. Quality of care varies greatly throughout the country. A few quality facilities exist in larger cities and usually require cash payment upon admission. Medical evacuation, which can be very expensive, may be necessary in the event of serious illness or injury.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a   travel health kit , especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad .

Identification

Authorities frequently perform random identity checks in public places.

You must carry the following identification documents at all times:

  • a valid passport with 2 blank pages for stamps
  • a valid Russian visa
  • an migration card
  • a stamped registration notification

You may be fined or detained for failing to provide proper documentation to Russian authorities.

Only the special police of the Federal Migration Bureau have the authority to arrest, detain and impose fines on improperly documented foreigners. If you are stopped in the street and requested to pay a fine, ask to see the officer’s name and identification and to contact the Embassy of Canada to Russia in Moscow.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Drugs, alcohol and travel

Minors participating in demonstrations

It is illegal for minors (those under 18) to participate in unauthorized protests. Adults who involve minors in such protests could face up to 15 days in jail and fines of up to RUB1 million.

Although the laws of Russia do not prohibit homosexual activity, Russian federal law prohibits public actions that are described as promoting homosexuality and “non-traditional sexual relations.”

Public actions that contravene or appear to contravene this law may lead to arrest, a fine and deportation. Examples of such actions include dissemination of information (for example, through public statements) and public displays of affection. Same sex marriage is not recognized in Russia. Homosexuality isn’t socially accepted.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Russia.

If local authorities consider you a citizen of Russia, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.

If you are also a Russian citizen and reside in Russia or hold permanent residency status in another country, you must declare this citizenship or residency status to your local migration office.

You may also be subject to certain legal obligations, including military service. You may be detained, imprisoned, or fined larges sums if you try to avoid military service. Seek advice from the nearest Russian embassy or consulate before travelling to Russia, or consult official sources from the Government of the Russian Federation.

  • Official information - Government of the Russian Federation  ( may not be currently available depending on your location)
  • Military mobilization - Government of the Russian Federation (may not be currently available depending on your location)
  • Requirement and consequences of non-compliance with the declaration of foreign citizenship - Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation (in Russian, may not be currently available depending on your location)
  • General information for travellers with dual citizenship

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Russia.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Russia by an abducting parent:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Russia to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.

  • International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
  • Travelling with children
  • Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
  • Emergency Watch and Response Centre

Religious activity

Religious activity is heavily regulated in Russia. If you plan to engage in religious activity, such as missionary work, make sure you are not inadvertently violating local laws.

You should carry an international driving permit.

International Driving Permit

You may drive with a Canadian driver’s licence if you carry it and a Russian translation. You must obtain a local permit if staying longer than 6 months.

The legal blood alcohol content limit is significantly lower than in Canada. Those found guilty of drinking and driving can expect heavy fines, suspension of their driving permit and immediate detention. Repeat offenders may face prison sentences.

The traffic police can impose fines on drivers for traffic violations. They can conduct identity checks on pedestrians, but they are not authorized to impose fines. The same is true of police in the underground metro systems.

Russia has very strict rules on the importation of medication. Certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are common in Canada may be prohibited, and large quantities of any medicine will be scrutinized.

If you are travelling with medication, even over-the-counter medication, you must have a doctor’s note translated to Russian confirming that you need the medication. Contact the Embassy of the Russian Federation for up-to-date information.

Imports and exports

The importation and use of electronic equipment are strictly controlled. Foreigners have faced charges of espionage for possessing improperly certified GPS devices, such as those used for geological mapping.

You must obtain a certificate from the Ministry of Culture to export items that appear old (prior to 1945) or may have cultural value. Customs officials may conduct thorough baggage searches and can arrest you if you don’t have the necessary certificate.

Contact the nearest Russian embassy or consulate, or consult the Federal Customs Service prior to departure for up-to-date information on customs requirements.

The currency of Russia is the Russian ruble (RUB).

It is illegal to pay for goods and services in foreign currency. You can exchange U.S. dollars at any exchange counter. Carry new, crisp bills; well-worn or used U.S. banknotes may not be accepted. ATMs are common in main cities. ATMs will accept cards with 4-digit pin numbers, but you may experience problems with cards with 5- or 6-digit pin codes. In major cities, you can usually exchange Euros and U.S. dollars at various banks.

Forest fires

Forest fires are common between July and September, particularly in Siberia. The air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke.

In case of a major fire:

  • stay away from the affected area, particularly if you suffer from respiratory ailments
  • follow the instructions of local emergency services
  • monitor local media for up-to-date information on the situation

Seismic activity

Parts of Russia, such as Chechnya, the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands, are prone to seismic or volcanic activity.

Spring flooding throughout Siberia and parts of western Russia.

Local services

In case of emergency, dial 112 or:

  • police: 102
  • medical assistance: 103
  • firefighters: 101

Consular assistance

Armenia (Consular and Trade Commissioner services)

For calls originating inside Russia the “7” should be replaced by an “8”.

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Moscow and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services .

Risk Levels

  take normal security precautions.

Take similar precautions to those you would take in Canada.

  Exercise a high degree of caution

There are certain safety and security concerns or the situation could change quickly. Be very cautious at all times, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.

IMPORTANT: The two levels below are official Government of Canada Travel Advisories and are issued when the safety and security of Canadians travelling or living in the country or region may be at risk.

  Avoid non-essential travel

Your safety and security could be at risk. You should think about your need to travel to this country, territory or region based on family or business requirements, knowledge of or familiarity with the region, and other factors. If you are already there, think about whether you really need to be there. If you do not need to be there, you should think about leaving.

  Avoid all travel

You should not travel to this country, territory or region. Your personal safety and security are at great risk. If you are already there, you should think about leaving if it is safe to do so.

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Russia Healthy Travel Packing List

Pack items for your health and safety.

  • You may not be able to purchase and pack all of these items, and some may not be relevant to you and your travel plans. Talk to your doctor about which items are most important for you.
  • This list is general and may not include all the items you need. Check our Traveler Information Center for more information if you are a traveler with specific health needs, such as travelers who are pregnant, immune compromised, or traveling for a specific purpose like humanitarian aid work.
  • Remember to pack extras of important health supplies in case of travel delays.

Prescription medicines

  • Your prescriptions
  • Travelers' diarrhea antibiotic
  • Suture/syringe kit Kit is for use by local health care provider & requires a letter from your doctor on letterhead stationery
  • Altitude sickness medicine

Medical supplies

  • Glasses Consider packing spare glasses in case yours are damaged
  • Contact lenses Consider packing spare contacts in case yours are damaged
  • Needles or syringes (for diabetes, for example) Requires a letter from your doctor on letterhead stationery
  • Suture kit Kit is for use by local health care provider & requires a letter from your doctor on letterhead stationery
  • Diabetes testing supplies
  • Epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens)
  • Medical alert bracelet or necklace

Over-the-counter medicines

  • Antihistamine
  • Motion sickness medicine
  • Cough drops
  • Cough suppression/expectorant
  • Decongestant
  • Medicine for pain and fever Examples: acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen
  • Mild laxative
  • Mild sedative or other sleep aid
  • Saline nose spray

Supplies to prevent illness or injury

  • Hand sanitizer or wipes Alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol or antibacterial hand wipes
  • Water purification tablets See CDC recommendations: Water Disinfection .
  • Insect repellent Select an insect repellent based on CDC recommendations: Avoid Bug Bites
  • Permethrin Permethrin is insect repellent for clothing. It may be needed if you spend a lot of time outdoors. Clothing can also be treated at home in advance.
  • Sunscreen (SPF 15 or greater) with UVA and UVB protection. See Sun Exposure .
  • Sunglasses and hat Wear for additional sun protection. A wide brim hat is preferred.
  • Personal safety equipment Examples: child safety seats, bicycle helmets
  • Latex condoms

First-aid kit

  • 1% hydrocortisone cream
  • Antifungal ointments
  • Antibacterial ointments
  • Antiseptic wound cleanser
  • Aloe gel For sunburns
  • Insect bite treatment Anti-itch gel or cream
  • Bandages Multiple sizes, gauze, and adhesive tape
  • Moleskin or molefoam for blisters
  • Elastic/compression bandage wrap For sprains and strains
  • Disposable gloves
  • Digital thermometer
  • Scissors and safety pins
  • Cotton swabs (Q-Tips)
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Health insurance documents Health insurance card (your regular plan and/or supplemental travel health insurance plan) and copies of claim forms
  • Copies of all prescriptions Make sure prescriptions include generic names. Bring prescriptions for medicines, eye glasses/contacts, and other medical supplies.
  • Family member or close contact remaining in the United States
  • Health care provider(s) at home
  • Lodging at your destination
  • Hospitals or clinics (including emergency services) in your destination
  • US embassy or consulate in the destination country or countries

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The dos and don'ts of visiting Russia for the first time

Sep 24, 2021 • 6 min read

Saint Basil's Cathedral in Red Square in winter at sunset, Moscow, Russia.

These top tips can help you make the most of your visit to Russia © MarinaDa / Shutterstock

The world’s largest country beguiles and fascinates with its world-class art, epic landscapes and multifaceted society. You may also find that perseverance  and a sense of humour will go a long way in enriching your first-time Russian travel experience. From the things you absolutely must do before you travel to the things we recommend that you steer clear of once you're there, here are some top tips for avoiding common pitfalls when visiting  Russia .

People stand at a viewpoint looking out at a huge road bridge over a body of water

DO apply for a visa early and register on arrival

Visas must be applied for in advance by all visitors. How you do that varies depending on your nationality and where in Russia you are traveling to. Travelers from many countries, including the UK and US, need to apply in-person at an embassy or consulate and provide biometric data. An e-visa may be an option for passport-holders from 52 countries, which include many EU travelers, as well as those from China, India, Japan, Singapore, and some Middle Eastern countries. However these are temporarily suspended due to COVID-19.  Check with your local Russian embassy or consulate for confirmation, or get up-to-date information here . 

You can apply at the last moment, but it may cost you a fortune. Start the application process at least a month before your trip and consider using a specialist travel agency to arrange visas and make key transport bookings. Every visitor to Russia should have their visa registered within seven days of arrival, excluding weekends and public holidays. The obligation to register is with your hotel or hostel, or landlord, friend or family if you’re staying in a private residence. Also keep in mind that your visa entry and exit dates will be written according to European calendar convention (day/month/year) as opposed to the American style, so don't get mixed up or over-stay your visa. 

A sail boat on a river at night. It has large red sails and is backlit by bright lights

DO check the events calendar

During major holidays – the first week in January (between New Year’s Day and Orthodox Christmas) and the first week or two of May (around Labour Day, or May Day, and Victory Day) – Moscow and St Petersburg empty out. Despite this, both cities are festive during these times, with parades, concerts and other events, but museums and other institutions may have shortened hours or be shut altogether. May to September is the best time to visit St Petersburg but mid-June is when the city is irresistible, with the White Nights revelry at its peak.

The exterior of a large white building with columns in the evening

DO dress up for a night out

We can’t guarantee you’ll make it past Moscow’s "face control" (the term comes from clubs trying to "save face" by only letting in patrons who meet their image standards) but you can better your chances of getting in to the top clubs by making a sartorial effort – high heels and skirts for women, all black for men. Russians also make an effort when they go to the theater or a posh restaurant – you should do likewise to fit in.

A street sign with Cyrillic writing on the side of a building

DO learn the Cyrillic alphabet

Making an effort to familiarize yourself with the Cyrillic alphabet repays tenfold. It will help you decode street and metro signs, maps, timetables and menus, even if you don't know many Russian phrases. While digital tools like the Russian Metro app  and Google Translate make it easier than ever to visit countries where you don't speak or read the language, brushing up beforehand can reduce frustration and endear you to the locals.

Rideshare options such as Taxovichkoff and Yandex Taxi upended the taxi industry in Russia as much as anywhere else. That means less pressure to know the Russian phrases you'd need to hails cabs in the streets, but it still is wise to learn key phrases in case there's a navigation mixup, like the address of your hotel or intersection of your short-term apartment rental. 

A series of large buildings, the outer one with dark red walls, line a riverside in a city

DO expect to spend your money

Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world and St Petersburg is not a cheap destination either; wallet-thinning shock is common at many restaurants and hotels. As a foreigner you’ll also find yourself paying more than a Russian for some museums – often as much as 10 times the price Russians pay. If you’re a student, flashing your ID can save you money at museums and other institutions.

You can save on dining out a few different ways. Many restaurants offer "business lunches" that are great value and very filling. Several years ago the trend for " anti-cafes " cropped up in larger Russian cities, and there are still a few where you pay by the minute for coffee, biscuits, and a little wi-fi time. 

Food markets  that blend farmers markets and food halls are popular, and are often found in architecturally significant vintage buildings. You can shop for ingredients to cook yourself or sample cuisines from around the world from dozens of  vendor stalls. Many food markets are less expensive than sit-down restaurants and let you try a wider variety of local and international dishes. 

A small glass of a clear liquid with a chess board in the background

DON’T ask for a mixer with your vodka

Few traditions in Russia are as sacrosanct as the drinking of vodka , and any foreign notions of drinking it with orange juice or tonic are anathema to your average Russian. If you need something to wash it down, you can chase it with a lemon, a pickle or, perhaps, a separate glass of water. Vodka is drunk in swift shots, not sipped. It’s traditional (and good sense) to eat a little something after each shot, so order some vodka snacks too.

A huge white church with three golden domes on the roof

DON’T be disrespectful in a church

Working churches are open to everyone, but as a visitor you should take care not to disturb any devotions or offend sensibilities. There's no face control, but women should cover their heads and bare shoulders when entering a church. In some monasteries and churches it’s also required for a woman to wear a skirt – wraps are usually available at the door. Men should remove their hats in church and not wear shorts.

DON’T take photos of government buildings

Be very careful about photographing stations, official-looking buildings and any type of military-security structure – if in doubt, don’t snap! Travelers have been arrested and fined for such innocent behaviour.

Two police officers dressed in black walk through a heavily touristed area

DON’T be surprised if you’re stopped by the police

Although new laws were passed in 2011 that ostensibly reconfigured Russia's police and their interactions with the public, it's still wise to carry a photocopy of your passport, visa and registration – not to mention travel documents that indicate how and when you'll return home – and present them when an officer demands to see your documents. You may also see special tourist police near major attractions like the Red Square , who have special training and language skills to assist travelers.

If you're issued a fine, Russian authorities might expect an "unofficial payment" to expedite their service on the spot, as opposed to handling the matter later at the station. Either way, always ask for an official receipt, and consider carrying the phone number for your country's embassy in case matters get more complicated. 

You might also like: How to spend a perfect weekend in Moscow    How to plan and pack for the Trans-Siberian Railway    Beyond the Trans-Siberian: travelling Russia's unexplored northwest by train   

This article was originally published in August 2009.

This article was first published Oct 30, 2019 and updated Sep 24, 2021.

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Putin signs decree naming new Russian government, including replacement of defense minister

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a decree appointing a new government, including replacement of the defense minister with a former deputy prime minister who is an economics expert with no military background. He met with the new ministers and congratulated them on their new assignments, adding that he plans to meet with the outgoing ministers to discuss how they can “work effectively for the benefit of the Russian people and Russian state”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with members of the Security Council via videoconference at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, May 13, 2024. (Aleksey Babushkin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with members of the Security Council via videoconference at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, May 13, 2024. (Aleksey Babushkin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

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In this photo released by The State Duma, Lower House of the Russian Parliament Press Service, Russian acting Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin gestures as he addresses the State Duma, Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Friday, May 10, 2024. (The State Duma, Lower House of the Russian Parliament Press Service via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a decree appointing a new government, including replacement of the defense minister with a former deputy prime minister who is an economics expert with no military background.

When Putin was inaugurated for a new six-year term on May 7, the government submitted its resignation in line with Russian law. Putin reappointed Mikhail Mishustin as prime minister three days later, which was quickly approved by the lower house of parliament.

On Sunday, he signed a decree moving Sergei Shoigu from his post as defense minister to head of the national security council. Putin also nominated deputy prime minister Andrei Belousov to take Shoigu’s place.

Putin also proposed names for some Cabinet members to return to their posts and Mishustin submitted names for several new ministers, all of which were approved by the parliament.

Shoigu has been widely seen as a key figure in Putin’s decision to send Russian troops into Ukraine. Russia had expected the operation to quickly overwhelm Ukraine’s much smaller and less-equipped army and for Ukrainians to broadly welcome Russian troops.

This image released by Maxar Technologies shows a damaged plane, likely a MiG 31 fighter aircraft, at Belbek air base, near Sevastopol, in Crimea, Thursday, May 16, 2024. (Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies via AP)

Instead, the conflict galvanized Ukraine to mount an intense defense, dealing the Russian army humiliating blows, including the retreat from an attempt to take the capital, Kyiv, and a counteroffensive that drove Moscow’s forces out of the Kharkiv region.

Shoigu also was shadowed by the arrest last month of deputy defense minister Timur Ivanov on charges of accepting huge bribes.

The decree by Putin largely retains the previous Cabinet, but names new energy, sports, transport, industry and agriculture ministers.

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Norway to Tighten Entry Rules for Russian Travelers Next Week

The Norwegian border crossing station at Storskog.

The Norwegian border crossing station at Storskog.

Norway will further restrict its entry conditions for Russian tourists from May 29, a decision the government said backed its allies’ reactions to the war being waged in Ukraine.

Russian citizens whose purpose is tourism and other non-essential travel will be rejected upon entry, according to a website statement on Thursday. Exceptions will be granted in certain cases, for instance to visit close family residing in Norway and for Russian citizens who will work or study in Norway or other Schengen countries, it added.

Deputy Russian military chief of staff jailed for bribery

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Norway to Block Entry for Most Russian Tourists, Moscow Says It Will Respond

Reuters

Norwegian Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl is interviewed after the news conference on threat and risk assessments in Oslo, Norway February 13, 2023. NTB/Fredrik Varfjell via REUTERS/ File Photo

OSLO (Reuters) -Norway will further curb access for Russian tourist travellers due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, blocking almost all entry from May 29, the Nordic country's justice ministry said on Thursday.

Russia called the decision "purely discriminatory" and said it would respond.

Norway, a NATO member that shares a border with Russia in the Arctic measuring almost 200 km (124 miles), first imposed restrictions on Russian tourist visas in 2022, shortly after Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"The decision to tighten the entry rules is in line with the Norwegian approach of standing by allies and partners in reaction to Russia's illegal war of aggression against Ukraine," Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl said in a statement.

Any Russian citizens whose purpose is tourism and other non-essential travel will be turned back at the border. Exceptions may be granted in cases such as visits to close family residing in Norway, the ministry said in a statement.

"The change implies that the police can refuse the entry of Russian citizens who are covered by the instruction," it said.

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters such moves "cannot go unanswered".

He added: "Of course, the decision is purely discriminatory. We do not accept such decisions. We regret that the Norwegian leadership has chosen this way of worsening our bilateral relations, which have already been of poor quality recently, and not on our initiative."

The Latest Photos From Ukraine

A woman walks backdropped by bas-relief sculptures depicting war scenes in the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia did not intend to bar entry to Norwegian citizens. "But this does not mean that retaliatory measures won't be taken. They will be," she told reporters.

(Reporting by Terje Solsvik; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters .

Photos You Should See - May 2024

TOPSHOT - A woman wades through flood waters at an inundated residential area in Garissa, on May 9, 2024. Kenya is grappling with one of its worst floods in recent history, the latest in a string of weather catastrophes, following weeks of extreme rainfall scientists have linked to a changing climate. At least 257 people have been killed and more than 55,000 households have been displaced as murky waters submerge entire villages, destroy roads and inundate dams. (Photo by LUIS TATO / AFP) (Photo by LUIS TATO/AFP via Getty Images)

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Reshuffle 2024: Who Is in Russia's New Government Cabinet

F ollowing the inauguration of President Vladimir Putin to a fifth term in office on May 7, the Russian government has undergone a reshuffle of ministers in cabinet positions.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, who was reappointed to a second term, submitted his cabinet nominations to the Russian parliament late last week, and in the days since, they have been swiftly approved by lawmakers.

There was speculation ahead of the reshuffle about who would stay and who would go, but besides the shocking ouster of Sergei Shoigu as defense minister, much in the government has remained the same.

Here’s a guide to the people that make up Mishustin’s cabinet, with the latest new faces and who’s changed places.

First Deputy Prime Minister:

Now serving as first deputy prime minister, Manturov was elevated from the twin posts of deputy prime minister and industry and trade minister after Putin tapped his predecessor Andrei Belousov as Russia’s new defense minister.

A government statement highlighted Manturov’s role in “ensuring technological leadership as stated in the new May decree signed by the president,” singling out the defense sector alongside other key industries like aircraft manufacturing and machine-tool building.

The new first deputy prime minister has seen his star rise since Moscow launched the full-scale invasion, overseeing increasingly important issues of industrial policy as Russia seeks to produce more tanks, guns, missiles, and ammo to wage war on Ukraine.

Deputy Prime Ministers:

Golikova, who grew to prominence when she oversaw Russia’s Covid-19 response center, will continue to focus on social policy in Mishustin’s second cabinet.

Her role is defined as “strengthening interethnic and inter-religious harmony in the country through the preservation of traditional Russian spiritual, moral and cultural values.”

Patrushev, a newcomer who previously served as Russia’s agriculture minister, will replace Viktoria Abramchenko in overseeing policy on agriculture and the environment.

As the son of former Russian Security Council chairman Nikolai Patrushev, the younger Patrushev has been rumored to be on the shortlist of Putin’s possible successors.

Ambramchenko, meanwhile, will “transition to a new place of work.” But where exactly is still a mystery.

Chernyshenko will oversee sport, tourism, and education to advance what the government calls its “renewed national goal of bringing up a harmoniously developed personality... starting from kindergarten and ending with university.”

Before joining the government, Chernyshenko was the general director and chairman of the board at Gazprom Media, as well as the president of the Continental Hockey League, which comprises mostly Russian clubs.

Savelyev, who previously served as transportation minister, is another newcomer who will oversee issues related to transportation after having “ ensured the resilience of the entrusted industry in the face of Western sanctions” at his last job.

He honed his skills in the transportation sector after being plucked from the corporate world to lead the flagship air carrier Aeroflot’s transformation into a modern company. Savelyev held that position between 2009 and 2020.

Novak will continue to oversee Russia’s energy industry but will now also take on economic policy from the outgoing Belousov.

As energy minister between 2012 and 2020, Novak ensured Russia’s seat at the table with the oil-producing organization OPEC as part of an informal wider group known as OPEC+. Novak continued to forge that alliance after Putin promoted him to deputy prime minister in 2020.

Grigorenko, who also serves as chief of the government staff, will continue to oversee the financial and digital development industries.

His additional new duties include communication and antitrust policy, with the government saying he will “take charge of the digital transformation of public administration, key sectors of the economy, and the social sector.”

Grigorenko is a Federal Tax Service veteran who has headed the Russian government apparatus — whose main task is to organize the government bureaucracy’s activities and monitor its work — since Mishustin’s first cabinet in 2020.

Khusnullin will return to Mishustin’s cabinet to oversee construction. On Monday, he vowed “continued cooperation with the Defense Ministry on housing, building fortifications, and the necessary infrastructure” in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine.

As deputy Moscow mayor for urban construction between 2010 and 2020, he oversaw some of the Russian capital’s largest-ever expansion , including new metro station openings and stadium overhauls ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

In the previous government cabinet, Khusnullin was tasked with overseeing repairs of the Crimea bridge, which was damaged in a bombing attack in October 2022. A few months later, the deputy prime minister drove across the bridge alongside Putin.

Overchuk, who left the Federal Tax Service in 2020 to join his boss Mishustin in government, will continue to oversee international cooperation, including relations with countries that are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Eurasian Economic Union.

Trutnev will continue to oversee Russia’s Far East. He started his career in the Perm region, where he first served as the mayor of the regional capital between 1996 and 2000, and then as governor between 2000 and 2004.

He was appointed as natural resources minister in 2004, and then later, as presidential assistant and presidential envoy to the Far East, a post which he still holds.

As part of the 2020 constitutional changes that allowed Putin to seek his fifth and sixth terms, Andrei Belousov’s and Sergei Lavrov’s candidacies for the respective posts of defense minister and foreign minister will be considered on Wednesday by the upper-house Federation Council, which like the Duma has voted in lock-step to advance the Russian president’s agenda.

At the same time, the Federation Council has already approved reappointments for the heads of the government’s so-called “security block,” including Federal Security Service chief Sergei Naryshkin and Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, among others.

Besides that, the appointments of 16 “civilian” government ministers have also received a green light from lawmakers. Among those, 11 ministers were reappointed, while the other five were newcomers.

New Ministers:

Tsivilyov, the husband of Putin’s niece Anna Tsivilyova, replaced Nikolai Shulginov as energy minister.

As the former governor of the coal-mining Kemerovo region, Tsivilyov brandished his pro-industry credentials to the State Duma’s approval committee on Sunday, including his 11 years of experience navigating ships in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

In 2018, Tsivilyov, then serving as deputy governor of the Kemerovo region, became known across Russia after he got down on his knees to apologize to residents for a major shopping mall fire that killed dozens of people, including children. His former boss at the time, Aman Tuleyev, resigned amid a public outcry over the tragedy.

Alikhanov served two terms as governor of the Kaliningrad exclave before replacing Denis Manturov as industry and trade minister. However, he did work briefly at the ministry in 2013, dealing with issues of state regulation and foreign trade.

He is among a rising group of young technocrats appointed to federal posts as part of Kremlin Deputy Chief of Staff Sergei Kiriyenko’s public administration training and promotion system .

Starovoit replaced Vitaly Savelyev as transportation minister after serving for nearly five years as the governor of the western Kursk region, which has been regularly attacked by Ukrainian drones and armed incursions since the start of the war.

Before his stint as governor, Starovoit was the head of Russia’s Federal Road Agency, and then later, served as deputy transportation minister.

Degtyarev, whom Putin appointed as governor of the Far East Khabarovsk region after his popular predecessor Sergei Furgal was arrested and then later jailed on murder charges, replaced Oleg Matitsyn as sports minister.

“Well, of course, this came as a surprise since, as the president’s soldier, I promised Vladimir Vladimirovich that I would develop the Khabarovsk region,” he told journalists when asked about his new ministerial position.

A former fencing champion, Degtyarev has been positioned as the man who will “confront the challenges” of wartime bans against Russian athletes from international athletic competitions.

Lut will take over for her former boss Dmitry Patrushev as agriculture minister. She worked in the banking industry for nearly two decades before going into government in 2018.

Her most recent private sector job was at the Russian Agricultural Bank, which provides lending support to Russian agribusiness.

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Ukraine war latest: Armed ship destroyed in Crimea, Kyiv says; controversial US television host launches show in Russia

Ukraine says it hit and destroyed the Russian missile ship Tsiklon in Crimea over the weekend. Meanwhile, analysts say Moscow is seeking to draw out Kyiv's forces - as Putin makes another significant change to his cabinet.

Thursday 23 May 2024 08:15, UK

Ukrainian servicemen patrol an area heavily damaged by Russian military strikes, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the town of Orikhiv in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine May 20, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer

  • Kyiv claims it has destroyed last Russian warship armed with cruise missiles in Crimea
  • Tucker Carlson launches new show in Russia
  • Putin sacks minister in new sign of shift in war strategy
  • European country now pushing to let Ukraine strike deep into Russia with Western weapons
  • Russia using 'understaffed and incohesive forces' in bid to draw out Ukrainian troops
  • Big picture: What you need to know as war enters new week

Our live coverage will remain paused today, but let's catch you up on where things stand and on any updates overnight.

  • Russia said 35 rockets and three drones were fired into Belgorod and overnight, claiming to have destroyed all of them;
  • Blasts were heard in Kherson as Russia shelled the city, said its regional governor Roman Mrochko;
  • The leader of Russia's Chechnya region, Ramzan Kadyrov, met  Vladimir Putin and offered to send more fighters to the frontline;
  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a fresh plea for upgraded defence systems to protect Ukraine's cities against guided bombs, which he described as the "the main instrument" now used by Moscow';
  • A Russian airstrike on Ukraine's northeastern city of Kharkiv yesterday destroyed a cafe, damaged a nearby residential building and set a petrol station ablaze, with local officials saying ten people were wounded.

As we've not been providing rolling coverage of the war in Ukraine today, here is a quick update on what's been happening since this morning. 

One of the most significant new stories is the UK accusing China of providing or preparing to provide lethal aid to Russia for use in the war against Ukraine. 

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps told a news conference this morning that US and British defence intelligence had evidence "lethal aid is now, or will be, flowing from China to Russia and into Ukraine".

He called this a "significant development".

We also heard from the Kremlin this morning, which said "in-depth dialogue" was needed to reduce rising tensions between Russia and the West - particularly with regards to nuclear issues. 

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov accused the "collective West" of refusing to engage with Russia despite the potential dangers. 

Here are more of the top stories: 

  • Russian forces have taken over the village of Klishchiivka in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, close to the city of Bakhmut, according to Russian news agencies 
  • At least nine people have been injured in a Russian air attack on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv
  • Russia accused Ukraine of using a drone to attack a non-nuclear facility at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, causing no critical damage
  • Moscow said it is bolstering its efforts to protect its energy infrastructure from drone attacks
  • Six children were handed over to Ukraine by Russia and reunited with their families, after a deal was brokered by Qatar. 

We're pausing our coverage of the Ukraine war for the moment.

Scroll through the blog below to catch up on today's developments.

Vladimir Putin has praised the late president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, and said he was a "reliable partner".

Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash near the Azerbaijan border over the weekend along with his foreign minister and seven others.

Speaking on the leader, Mr Putin said he was "a man of his word" who carried out any agreements the pair made.

"He was truly a reliable partner, a man sure of himself, who acted in the national interest," Russian news agencies quoted Mr Putin as telling Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of Russia's lower house of parliament.

"He was, of course, a man of his word and it was always good to work with him. What I mean is if we came to an agreement on something, you could be sure the agreement was carried out."

The Kremlin leader asked Mr Volodin, who will be attending memorial events in Iran, to pass on "words of our sincere condolences in connection with this tragedy".

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Russia has strengthened political, trade and military ties with Iran in a deepening relationship that the US and Israel view with concern.

Heavy fighting in the Pokrovsk area in eastern Ukraine has forced Ukrainian troops to engage in "manoeuvres," the Ukrainian military's general staff have said.

Their report said Pokrovsk, northwest of the Russian-held city of Donetsk, remains the front's "hottest" sector.

"In some areas, the situation requires our troops to engage in manoeuvres," the general staff report reads.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has referred to the region and adjacent areas as "extraordinarily difficult" in his nightly video address.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said allies are taking too long when it comes to decisions on military support for Ukraine.

In an interview with Reuters, the Ukrainian leader said every decision which everyone came to was "late by around one year".

"But it is what it is: one big step forward, but before that two steps back. So we need to change the paradigm a little bit," he said.

"When we're quick, they fall behind. And then there's a gap - six, eight months of unpassed (aid) packages, and then two-three months of supplies - and a year goes by. We would like not to lose the advantage."

Mr Zelenskyy also said Ukraine had never used Western weapons on Russian territory.

A senior Russian diplomat has said that the EU plan to channel profits from frozen Russian assets to Ukraine would have "unpredictable" consequences, according to the TASS news agency.

According to TASS, Kirill Logvinov, Russia's acting permanent representative to the EU in Brussels, told Russia journalists: "The only predictable thing is that those in the EU will be obliged sooner or later to return to our country what has been stolen."

For context : In March the European Commission proposed transferring to Ukraine profits generated by Russian central bank assets frozen in Europe.

The plan would see 90% channeled through the European Peace Facility fund to buy weapons for Ukraine. 

The rest would be used for recovery and reconstruction.

Russia's defence ministry has said it has begun a round of drills involving tactical nuclear weapons. 

The exercises were announced by Russian authorities this month in response to remarks by senior Western officials about the possibility of deeper involvement in the war in Ukraine.

It was the first time Russia has publicly announced drills involving tactical nuclear weapons, although its strategic nuclear forces regularly hold exercises.

According to the ministry's statement, the first stage of the new drills include nuclear-capable Kinzhal and Iskander missiles.

The maneuvers are taking place in the southern military district, which consists of Russian regions in the south.

A Moscow court has ordered a Russian journalist who covered the trials of the late Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny and other dissidents must  remain in custody pending an investigation and trial on charges of extremism.

Antonina Favorskaya was arrested in March. 

She is accused of collecting material, producing and editing videos and publications for Navalny's Foundation for Fighting Corruption, which had been outlawed as extremist by Russian authorities, according to court officials.

Today, Moscow's Basmanny district court ordered that she remain in custody until at least 3 August.

Kira Yarmysh, Navalny's spokeswoman, said earlier that Ms Favorskaya did not publish anything on the foundation's platforms and suggested that Russian authorities have targeted her because she was doing her job as a journalist.

Former Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson has launched his own show in Russia.

The controversial US media personality, who this year became the first Western journalist to interview Vladimir Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine, will host his show on the state-owned Russia 24 (Rossiya 24).

In the first episode, Carlson will discuss the dangers of ticks and Lyme disease.

Who is Carlson?

Carlson, who has been a vocal supporter of Mr Putin in the past, was sacked from Fox News in April last year.

He took up the prime-time weekday evenings spot on Fox News in 2016 with his show Tucker Carlson Tonight, and quickly established himself as a key player in the network and an influential voice in Republican politics.

The presenter often embraced conspiracy theories and far-right issues. He repeatedly questioned the efficacy of COVID vaccines and compared mandates to "Nazi experiments".

While he found success with viewers, his inflammatory comments caused some advertisers to distance themselves from the programme.

After his departure from Fox News he rebooted his show on X last year, calling Elon Musk's site the last big remaining platform to allow free speech.

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Georgia’s ‘foreign agents’ bill: What’s the controversy about? What’s next?

The ‘Russia law’ will make it hard for Georgia to join European Union, argue protesters, the US and Baltic states.

A woman holds a Georgian national and an EU flags in front of riot police blocking a street

Georgia’s Parliament passed its new “transparency of foreign influence” bill – also known as the “foreign agents” law – on Tuesday despite mass protests that have rocked the capital, Tbilisi, for the past few weeks. After the bill was passed, thousands of protesters clashed with the police outside the parliament building in the centre of Tbilisi.

The new law was initially proposed by the Georgian Dream party, which has been in power since 2012, last year but was withdrawn following protests against it. The bill was reintroduced in March this year after a new prime minister, Irakli Kobakhidze, took office, leading to protests throughout April that were met with violent crackdowns and arrests by masked riot police.

Keep reading

Thousands of georgians defy warnings to join protest against ‘russia’ bill, thousands protest after georgia parliament passes ‘foreign agents’ bill, the take: what’s behind georgia’s ‘foreign agents’ protests, clashes in georgia after passage of ‘foreign agents’ bill.

Footage broadcast on national television on Monday showed lawmakers from the governing and opposition parties brawling in parliament. Opposition parliament member Aleko Elisashvili punched the governing Georgian Dream party leader, Mamuka Mdinaradze, in the face.

So, what’s in the bill and why is it so controversial?

What’s in the ‘foreign agents’ bill?

The bill, which passed with 84 members of parliament out of 150 voting in favour, requires non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and media outlets with more than 20 percent of their funding coming from outside Georgia to register as bodies “pursuing the interests of a foreign power”.

If they refuse to do so and to disclose sensitive information about foreign funding, they will be met with a fine of 25,000 lari ($9,360), followed by additional fines of 20,000 lari ($7,490) for each month of non-compliance thereafter.

NGO and media organisations fear being forced to close if they do not comply. Eka Gigauri, head of the Georgian branch of Transparency International, the anti-corruption NGO which has operated in the country for 24 years, told France24: “The implication would be that they might freeze our assets.”

How has the government justified the bill?

Georgia’s government says the bill is needed to promote transparency, combat “pseudo-liberal values” promoted by foreigners and preserve the country’s sovereignty.

Georgian Dream’s backer, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, has accused NGOs of being foreign puppets and plotting a revolution.

Prime Minister Kobakhidze, a strong proponent of the bill, said if authorities did not pass the bill, Georgia would lose its sovereignty and “easily share the fate of Ukraine”. The exact meaning of his statement was not immediately clear. He has previously said the bill promotes accountability.

The Georgian government has also argued that the new law is similar to transparency legislations in Western countries – such as the Foreign Agents Registration Act in the United States and similar directives planned in France and other European Union countries.

What are the objections to the bill?

The bill is deeply unpopular – with some 50,000 protesters gathered in Tbilisi on Sunday.

Critics argue that this law will limit democracy and media freedom and will also jeopardise the country’s bid to join the EU . Georgia applied to be part of the EU in 2022 and was granted candidate status in December last year.

The bill has been dubbed the “Russian law” by opponents due to its similarities to Russian legislation used to crack down on critics of President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.

Georgia’s President Salome Zourabichvili dubbed the bill an “exact duplicate” of the one in Russia in an interview with CNN. While Zourabichvili has promised to veto the bill, her move can be overruled through a simple majority in parliament, which the ruling Georgian Dream party enjoys.

Some critics also argue that the bill will move Georgia closer to Russia. The two former Soviet countries have had a strained relationship since Georgia’s independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, particularly over Georgia’s Russia-friendly, separatist Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions – a dispute which led to violent conflict in 2008. Most countries recognise these regions as part of Georgia, but Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru and Syria all regard them as independent.

The Georgian Dream’s billionaire backer, Ivanishvili, who made his fortune in Russia, has not publicly condemned the invasion of Ukraine and has been accused of leaning towards Moscow.

What’s next?

NGO workers, activists and journalists say they fear harassment and persecution in Georgia as a result of this new law. Baia Pataraia, who heads the women’s rights NGO, Sapari, said she has experienced harassment, threats and accusations of being a foreign agent since the reintroduction of the bill. Pataraia refuses to register as a foreign agent.

Organisations also fear losing funding as many are largely dependent on funding from overseas. Nato Shavkaladze, who runs a shelter for women escaping domestic abuse in Georgia, told the AFP news agency: “If we don’t register, we will probably cease to exist.”

What’s the reaction to the bill?

The bill has not only prompted discontent among Georgia’s public. The US and the EU have also voiced their concerns and strongly disagree with the government’s argument that the new law is similar to transparency legislation passed in Western countries.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU Commission, warned on May 1 that Georgia was “at a crossroads”. The EU has warned that this move could hinder the Black Sea country’s admission into the bloc. “EU member countries are very clear that if this law is adopted it will be a serious obstacle for Georgia in its European perspective,” said EU spokesman Peter Stano.

Until right before the passage of the bill, the US was urging Georgia not to go ahead with the move, saying it would be inconsistent with its stated goal to join the EU and have a relationship with NATO.

“We’re deeply troubled by Georgia’s Kremlin-style foreign agents legislation,” US Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday. “If this legislation passes, it will compel us to fundamentally reassess our relationship with Georgia.”

The US ambassador to Georgia, Robin Dunnigan, said in a statement on May 2 that the US government had invited Prime Minister Kobakhidze to high-level talks “with the most senior leaders”. But Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the invitation was declined. Instead, Kobakhidze accused the US of supporting “revolutionary attempts” by NGOs working in the country, such as EU-funded organisations Transparency International Georgia and ISFED, which often highlight government corruption and abuses of power.

Ministers from Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia also expressed dismay over the new law, urging Georgia to scrap the bill. The ministers will meet the Georgian president, foreign minister and the head of parliament on Wednesday.

Human Rights Watch also opposed the bill in an X post on Tuesday, saying it aims to “silence media and civil society” and that it “threatens rights”.

Georgia's parliament has adopted the “foreign influence” bill, which aims to silence media and civil society. Adopting this law threatens rights — Georgia needs to scrap it. pic.twitter.com/dSEHKuqFJx — Human Rights Watch (@hrw) May 14, 2024

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  27. Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

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