travel tips ► POLICE
Once you arrive in Russia, always keep your documents with you but remember to keep them in a safe place (not your back pocket or back pack for example - the best option is in an inner pocket or front pocket). It is also a good idea to make photocopies of your documents just in case. Sometimes the police make spot checks on the street and they can ask to see your documents (passport and visa). If you are asked, remain calm and pretend that you don't speak any Russian. If your visa has been registered, there shouldn't be a problem but occasionally you may meet a rotten police officer who is out to make a buck and try to extort money from you for no reason whatsoever. If this happens, ask to see the police officer's documents that prove that he is really a police officer and not just some bum, then, take the time to write down his badge number, first, middle and last name. It they try to make you pay a "fine" ask for an official receipt on an official piece of paper. By law, the police officer is obligated to tell you his name, show you his badge number, show you his documents and allow you to record all of these. Always be polite and do not get hot under the collar and confrontational with them. In St. Petersburg, if you fear that you are being hustled by a dishonest cop, you can call (even from your cell phone) the Department for Inner Security - you can even tell the police officer that you are calling them and pronounce the name clearly - the "Upravleniye Sobstvenoi Bezopastnosti" 541-0202. This is the department that is obligated to investigate such cases.
The St. Petersburg police's own help-line for foreigners: (+7812) 278-3014
Information center: Sadovaya ul. 14th near metro Gostiny Dvor, working hours 10:00 - 18:00: (+7812) 310-8262, 310-2231 (they can help to fill in a form for the police if you need to make a report).