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Moscow police targets foreign tourists
May 18, 2007 14:39

The new law on migration records for foreign citizens makes the procedure of foreign tourists` registration so time consuming that tourists in fact have no options: they must not leave the hotel or pay fines to Moscow police. The Association of guides-interpreters, tour guides, and tourist managers is beating the alarm. Representatives of the Association have recently reported about the cases of extorting money from foreign tourists by Moscow police.

According to media sources, there are several permanently active spots in Moscow where police are deliberately looking out for foreigners. Amongst them are listed such places as Red Square, New and Old Arbat, Pushkinskaya, and Smolenskaya Squares. As a rule, the main distinguishing trait of such money gathering places is a police vehicle situated somewhere nearby. The standard fixed price for being unregistered in migration records is 3000 roubles (120 USD). If one tries to bargain, the price can be cup down to 1500 roubles.

Some excursion guides working in the centre of Moscow claim that cases of extorting money from foreign tourists more frequently occur not in Red Square directly but in the surrounding areas, for instance, near the hotels Metropol and National, especially when foreign guests are not accompanied by a tourist-guide in this case there is no one to protect them. Poor knowledge of foreign languages is not a hindrance for making money on foreigners Moscow policemen known not to speak English or German, can without any difficulties learn such English words as passport and money this is not the case when the language barrier influences communication.

The reason for the frequent documents checks is the new law called Act on migration records for foreign citizens and individuals with no citizenship which came into force January 15 this year. The new migration legislation has considerably complicated the process of registering foreign tourists for hotels. Hotel workers must fill in a special form confirming the arrival of a foreign citizen to Russia, then send the paperwork to the Federal Migration Service, get a tear-off coupon there which is supposed to be the proof of the tourists registration. The problem is that the departments of the Federal Migration Service work only several hours twice a week. This forms long queues and far not all hotel workers manage to complete the procedure on time. If a tourist happens to visit Russian on a day the Federal Migration Service is closed it is impossible to meet the demands of the law prescribing being registered in migration records within 3 days.

Representatives of the Russian Union of the Tourist Industry claim that the new migration regulations and behaviour of average police executers may preclude many foreign tourists from coming to Russia and especially to the capital; yet those who come here are simply afraid of leaving the hotel.

The paradox of the problem is that according to the Russian laws every person must have documents with them not depending on any circumstances in this view the police workers do not violate the law by fining tourists. However, the other side of their actions is taking advantage of the regulations initially created to be disadvantageous for foreign guests.

Based on:

Lavrentyeva Natalya


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