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Sochi Olympics 2014 / 2014 Sochi Olympics Personal Safety Advice for travelors
« Last post by Sennaya on January 11, 2014, 01:29:06 AM »
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens planning to attend the 2014 Olympic Games in Russia that they should remain attentive regarding their personal security at all times.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place in Sochi, Russia, from February 7 to March 16, 2014. This travel alert expires March 24, 2014. Full information about the Olympic and Paralympic games for U.S. citizen visitors is available on the Sochi Fact Sheet and the Country Specific Information for the Russian Federation on our website, The Department strongly recommends that all U.S. citizens residing or traveling abroad enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive pertinent safety and security information.

MEDICAL CARE: The Olympics are the first large-scale event to be held in Sochi and medical capacity and infrastructure in the region are untested for handling the volume of visitors expected for the Olympics. Medical care in many Russian localities differs substantially from Western standards due to differing practices and approaches to primary care. Travelers should consider purchasing private medical evacuation and/or repatriation insurance.

TERRORISM: Large-scale public events such as the Olympics present an attractive target for terrorists. Russian authorities have indicated that they are taking appropriate security measures in Sochi in light of this. Acts of terrorism, including bombings and hostage takings, continue to occur in Russia, particularly in the North Caucasus region. Between October 15 and December 30, 2013, there were three suicide bombings targeting public transportation in the city of Volgograd (600 miles from Sochi), two of which occurred within the same 24-hour period. Other bombings over the past 10-15 years occurred at Russian government buildings, airports, hotels, tourist sites, markets, entertainment venues, schools, and residential complexes. There have also been large-scale attacks on public transportation including subways, buses, trains, and scheduled commercial flights, in the same time period. In July 2013, Doku Umarov, the head of the Caucasus Emirate (an organization the United States designated as a terrorist organization in 2010, and known in Russian as the Imirat Kavkaz or IK) released a video message rescinding prior directions not to attack civilians and calling for attacks on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The Caucasus Emirate is responsible for many of the aforementioned attacks. The group has targeted civilians, as indirect supporters of the government, including through attacks on a ski resort, metro system, high-speed rail, airport, and a theater. Westerners have not specifically been targeted, but are viewed by IK as complicit in the Russian government's efforts to control the North Caucasus region.

Travelers to Sochi should expect increased police presence and enhanced security measures in and around the Olympic venues. There is no indication of a specific threat to U.S. institutions or citizens, but U.S. citizens should be aware of their personal surroundings and follow good security practices. U.S. citizens are urged to remain vigilant and exercise good judgment and discretion when using any form of public transportation. When traveling, U.S. citizens may wish to provide a friend, family member, or coworker a copy of their itinerary.

The U.S. Embassy will continue to monitor the security situation in Sochi throughout the Olympics. In the event the U.S. government receives information of any specific and credible threat, the Department of State will immediately provide information to the public. Information about potential threats to safety and security can be found on the Embassy’s website and the Department of State’s travel website. Individuals who have enrolled in STEP will receive this information directly via email.

CRIME: U.S. citizens planning to attend the Games in Sochi should remain alert regarding their personal security at all times. Criminal activity in Sochi is similar to other cities of comparable size. However, major events such as the Olympic Games are a prime opportunity for criminal elements to target tourists. Travelers should avoid carrying large amounts of money or other valuables. Since cash may be the only accepted form of payment outside Olympic venues, consider keeping money in a hotel safe or dividing money and placing it in several different locations on your person. Purses, wallets, cell phones, and electronics should be secured while traveling on buses, trains, or other forms of public transportation. Travelers should only use marked taxi services and prearrange transportation through hotel concierge or other reputable services whenever possible. Photocopies of passports, visas, credit cards, and other important documents should be kept in a secure location so proper notifications can be made if original documents are lost or stolen.

PUBLIC DEMONSTRATIONS: U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds in areas that lack enhanced security measures. Use caution in any areas where protests, demonstrations, or other public disturbances are taking place. Demonstrations intended to be peaceful can develop quickly and unpredictably, sometimes turning violent.

On January 10, Vice Prime Minister Dmitriy Kozak announced that the Sochi authorities have determined that the village of Khost, located seven miles from the Olympic venues, will be the designated area for political demonstrations during the Winter Olympics. Demonstrations must be unrelated to the Olympics and the organizers must receive permission prior to the event from the regional authorities of the Ministry of Interior and the Federal Security Service (FSB). It is also worth noting that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Charterstates “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER (LGBT) ISSUES: In June 2013, Russia’s State Duma passed a law banning the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. The U.S. government understands that this law applies to both Russian citizens and foreigners in Russia. Russian citizens found guilty of violating the law could face a fine of up to 100,000 rubles ($3,100). Foreign citizens face similar fines, up to 14 days in jail, and deportation. The law makes it a crime to promote LGBT equality in public, but lacks concrete legal definitions for key terms. Russian authorities have indicated a broad interpretation of what constitutes “LGBT propaganda,” and provided vague guidance as to which actions will be interpreted by authorities as “LGBT propaganda.” LGBT travelers should review the State Department’s LGBT Travel Information page.

LODGING: There may be shortages of hotel rooms during the Olympics. While some hotels are under construction, visitors are urged to book rooms well in advance. Advertised rates for standard rooms are currently $750-1,000 per night. Now is the time to determine where you will stay and make your arrangements.

AMERICAN CITIZENS SERVICES: The U.S. Embassy’s American Citizens Services (ACS) unit will have an office in Sochi during the Olympic and Paralympic Games to provide a range of services to U.S. citizens in need. U.S. citizens who need assistance should contact U.S. Embassy Moscow’s ACS unit during business hours, Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., by phone at 7-495-728-5577 or by email at If you are a U.S. citizen with an emergency outside of business hours, please call the Embassy’s after-hours ACS hotline at 7-495-728-5000.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Russia enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at STEP enrollment allows you to receive the Department’s safety and security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website at, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution, and read the Country Specific Information for the Russian Federation. For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad”on the State Department’s website. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.
Tourist traps and pitfalls / Re: Northway gift shop means No way
« Last post by Mike on December 24, 2013, 05:21:49 AM »
:) I rather enjoyed it. High quality, and they do seem to treat you better if you spend a lot of money. I ended up buying a couple of fur hats not overpriced. I probably wouldn't have been allowed access either if it weren't for the group I was with. I did go in with the intention of spending money and that I did. Would have saved me quite a bit of money if they would have turned me away. That being said, don't judge a book by it's cover. Also a decent souvenir market near Catherine's Summer Palace.
Russian Humor / Soviet Art You Never Saw!
« Last post by Sennaya on October 02, 2013, 04:47:55 PM »
Soviet Art You Never Saw!
Morale boosting posters of the Soviet era always followed officla party rules for Art, never showing women as attractive except for working for the betterment of  Soviet society.  Artist Valery Barykin explores the question, what if American style pin-ups were allowed in Soviet times, what kind of Art might have been seen?
Fun, humorous, and a little sexy, something not usually associated with the official art of the times!
Events, Holidays and Festivals / Re: Maslenitsa is an ancient Russian holiday
« Last post by ElizabethSamantha on June 14, 2013, 08:53:26 AM »
Russia is widely known for their rich legacy and dynamic local cuisine.
It is totally remarkable and adorable.. 

Attractions and things to do in St. Petersburg / Re: Nov. 19: World Day of Toilets
« Last post by K. Cheung on May 21, 2013, 09:48:11 AM »
[quote author=Admiral_Kolchak link=topic=194.msg1080#msg1080 date=1290192835]
November 19th is celebrated as  [b]World Day of toilets[/b]. 
As part of a holiday in many capitals have been meeting at the highest level. And ironically there was inappropriate: "abode of sorrowful thoughts" in virtually all countries is far from perfect.

Meanwhile, 2.6 billion people across the earth have not the slightest idea about the latest developments in the field of plumbing - they have never seen a toilet, and need to manage at such places as the directors of horror films even hesitate to move into such "decorations" action his paintings.

Asians, for example, getting into a public restroom anywhere in the U.S., barely a faint do not fall: the doors to the booths seem to make very economical [url=][color=black]producers[/color][/url], because of what the legs, and even underwear secluded become visible to all comers . A notorious queue in the ladies toilets and dirt in the station closet, and the discrepancy latrines environmental standards?

"Nov. 19: World Day of Toilets" this is really very joking. Toilets day ! i haven't think that toilets day observe in many countries and gives public holiday. In Asia toilets ......... Ha ha ha.....
Hollywood just can't make it believable sometimes when they head for Russia.  The Cyrillic alphabet is always messing with their ideas.  Take passports for example. Russian passports have both Russian Cyrillic alphabet and English Latin alphabet words on them.

Matt Damon in the 2004 movie “The Bourne Supremacy” shows a forged Russian passport with the odd but possible name “Foma Kinaev,” written in the Latin alphabet. The Cyrillic words, supposedly the same name, reads “Ashchf Lshtfum,” a bunch of impossible consonants. 

Whoever wrote the fake passport apparently switched the computer keyboard over to Russian Cyrillic, typed in “Foma Kinaev” thinking it would translate properly. Not only does Russian have more letters in its alphabet, they are located in different spots on the keyboard. 

Letter for letter "Foma Kinaev"  would be "Фома KIнaев."  That sounds much better in Russian than phonetic sounds Ashchf Lshtfum!

Thankfully, Matt only faced actors in a movie. In real life he would have been busted immediately. 

The Bourne Supreme Fail!
May 13 is the Day of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia.
Day of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia - an annual holiday celebrated on May 13 in honor of the Black Sea Fleet.
The holiday was established in 1996.

День Черноморского флота ВМФ России
— ежегодный праздник, отмечаемый 13 мая в честь создания Черноморского флота. День был учрежден в 1996 году.
С праздником!!!
Events, Holidays and Festivals / Orthodox Easter on Sunday May 5th, 2013 !
« Last post by Sennaya on March 31, 2013, 01:21:42 PM »
In 2013 Western Easter is March 31, 2013 and Orthodox Easter celebrated in Russia is a month later, May 5, 2013.

The date of the Orthodox Easter Sunday is the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon (PFM) date for the year, using the Julian Calendar. For 2013 the date of the Orthodox Easter is May 5th. Catholic Easter on the other hand is calculated based on the Gregorian calendar, and for 2013 the date is on March 31st.

The two churches vary on the definition of the vernal equinox and the full moon. The Eastern Church sets the date of Easter according to the actual, astronomical full moon and the actual equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem, site of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

The Eastern Orthodox Church applies the formula so that Easter always falls after Passover, since the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ took place after he entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. In the Western Church, Easter sometimes precedes Passover by weeks.

Maybe the later date helps the colder parts of Russia have Easter with good Spring weather!
Events, Holidays and Festivals / Maslenitsa 2013, March 11-17th
« Last post by Sennaya on March 12, 2013, 07:22:56 AM »
Maslenitsa - масленица comes from maslo - масло -- oil or butter. It marks the end of Winter and the anticipation of spring. The holidays are celebrated from March 11 through March 17 in 2013.
Be sure to eat lots of blini - Russian pancakes wrapped around your favorite fillings. Imagine blini as the round warm sun and feel Spring is coming!
If you can't find blini, makes some crepes or even American pancakes and feel warm and happy!
Along with the fake meteors for sale there is a lot of humor.

Read my blog about it:

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