Russia Country Report
Continued confrontational relations with the West will entrench the predominance of the conservative faction at the Kremlin, as in May 2018 Vladimir Putin began his new presidential term to 2024. Key policy decisions, in which perceived security considerations will likely be prioritised over the economy, will be aimed at keeping the ruling elite in power beyond 2024, even if this leads to significant economic costs. Despite the continued economic weaknesses and significant spending cuts, protests are likely to be relatively small and geographically isolated, and the political status quo is likely to persist in the three-year outlook. Existing Western sanctions, the threat of new sanctions being imposed, and retaliatory domestic regulatory restrictions, will continue to restrictoperational environment for doing business in Russia across multiple sectors into 2019.
Corruption, in the form of bribe extortion, remains a major problem across all levels, but is especially pronounced in energy, construction, defence sectors and judiciary. The government has launched high-profile anti-graft campaigns, but these remain highly selective in their implementation, and mostly serve political purposes. The hostile relations between Russia and the West often lead to regulatory demands, fines, and inspections of international firms operating in Russia. Labour activism among the Russian workforce is likely to decrease with the improving economy, but geographically localised labour strikes are still likely in 2019.
The risk of IED, small-arms, stabbing or vehicle-impact terrorist attacks against soft targets in Moscow, St Petersburg and other large cities remains high since the start of Russia's military involvement in Syria in September 2015. However, most attacks are likely to be concentrated in the Muslim-majority republics of North Caucasus, especially Dagestan, and target mostly state security forces and associated assets. The ongoing radicalisation of unemployed Muslim youths and switches of loyalty by local small cells between various Jihadist groups, is likely to lead to an increase in the frequency of low-capability attacks, especially in this region.
Although the risk of an actual foreign military attack against Russia remains exceedingly low due to Russia’s nuclear arsenal, its military spending has risen in recent years to match the Kremlin's increasingly assertive foreign policy. For 2018, Russia allocated USD46 billion or 2.85% of GDP to defence – figures similar to those of India. Russian military involvement in Ukraine since 2014 elevated the risks of the Donbass conflict unintentionally spilling into the Rostov region of Russia. Russian military assertiveness in the Baltic and Black Sea areas elevates the risk of unintended marine or aviation incidents, including with NATO vessels or aircraft.
The frequency and size of protests in Russia are likely to decrease into 2019 due to continued opposition disunity and the government's increasingly repressive policies. However, largely non-violent anti-government protests with turnout in the tens of thousands are likely in Moscow and St Petersburg, as well as smaller rallies in other large cities. Their disruptive potential is likely to be mitigated by a heavy police presence and a clampdown on unsanctioned protests. Outside these cities, isolated, smaller peaceful protests against local, mostly economic and environmental, grievances, like those seen recently in the Moscow region, are still likely in 2019.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Finally, this vast country is also vulnerable to natural disasters. The Kuril Islands and the Kamchatka Peninsula experience significant seismic and volcanic activity. Siberia, as well as a variety of western regions, also experience occasional flooding (mainly in spring). Large-scale forest fires are known to occur in summer months, such as the 2010 Moscow region fires, fueled by temperatures in excess of 35°C [95°F]), and dangerously high levels of pollution. Air quality near affected areas may deteriorate due to heavy smoke. In case of forest fires, follow instructions issued by local authorities and monitor local media for up-to-date information. Moscow and central Russia are also known to experience violent thunderstorms in summer months. In May 2017, thunderstorms killed at least seven people and injured 69 others in Moscow.
Winters in most of Russia can be particularly harsh. In blizzard conditions, temperatures in Moscow can drop to as low as -31˚C (-24˚F). Power outages and transportation disruptions should be expected in snowy conditions.
Road safety standards in Russia are often below the level of other European countries. Unlicensed taxis should be avoided. The death rate on roads in Russia is significantly higher than in other European countries: around ten times higher than that in Poland and 60 times higher than that of Great Britain.
Driving outside of main cities can be difficult due to poorly maintained roads. Conditions during the winter are significantly worse due to ice and snow. Furthermore, travelers driving during winter should ensure that vehicles are in optimum condition before departing and travel with basic spare parts.
Police road checks occur frequently, even in the absence of a suspected offense. Some criminals set up fake checkpoints to rob drivers. An official traffic inspector can be identified by their black uniforms, and silver-red badges, with clearly-displayed name and badge number. Furthermore, they should always provide their name and rank. In event of a road check, individuals should be prepared to provide proper identification, answer basic questions about their travel, and follow any instructions issued by local authorities.
The Russian rail network is relatively well developed. Trains generally arrive on time but are often slow. Theft on trains, especially overnight trains, is frequent.
Individuals are advised against using unmarked, unlicensed taxis. Passengers in unregulated vehicles have been victims of robberies, kidnappings, and extortion. When possible, ask your hotel to call a taxi for you. Many major cities also provide a regulated service through the Yandex Taxi smart phone application.
Russia has a continental climate. In the west of the country, winters are long and very cold while summers are mild (17°C), stormy, and short (June to August). In the Moscow region, temperatures can fluctuate considerably from one day to another or even within a single day. In the east, the winter lasts from October until May and summers are short and often cool. In April, the country is often muddy due to melting snows.
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