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Of course this is nonsense! Some criticisms of Russia are more or less fair but anti-Russian politics and prejudices or just plain misconceptions play their role in distorting the reporting. Therefore we have included this section on dangers in Russia, not because Russia is an especially risky place for tourists but to simply try to separate the fact from the fiction and to give you good advice on making your visit to Russia pass without any problems.
This depiction is somewhat distorted. Although you may see some shady looking guys driving around in luxury cars with blacked-out windows and thuggish-looking security guards, these attributes are no longer just found among the mafia. In any case the ordinary tourist is very, very unlikely to get mixed up with any mafia, unless he goes looking for it of course. In addition, tourists are also unlikely to experience street crime in Russia.
Like in every major city pickpockets do operate at busy tourist areas and are likely to target tourists in the belief that they will have more money on them. However if you keep your wallet in a safe place and don't draw more attention to yourself than necessary, you should be fine. Moscow and St Petersburg are still much safer cities than, for example, New York, Paris or London, but of course common sense is still required.
If you stumble out of a bar late at night completely drunk or walk around with your wallet hanging out your back pocket you might be asking for trouble. Some odd tricks have also been developed by conmen and sometimes these are used to target tourists.
One such trick is for a man to drop a wad of cash in front of you. If you then pick it up, he will then claim you have stolen half of it and with his friends will demand you give back the full amount. Again simple common sense will protect you from this type of trick - don't pick up wads of cash lying around! WILD ANIMALS The myth of the ubiquitous Russian bear is probably one of the most enduring myths about Russia, but while Russia does have large bear populations in remote parts of the country, the chances are that during your trip you will only see one at a zoo.