Dealing with Russian Police

Everyone in Russia is insanely helpful and they are generally an awesome bunch of people…. except the Russian police. To them you are there way of getting a quick buck. You’re literally a walking ATM machine and they’ll inconvenience you in any way possible to get your money. So corrupt and very unpleasant people.

Their tactics:

  • Intimidation
  • Holding driving license hostage until you pay
  • Holding you/driver hostage until you pay
  • Playing the waiting game. They have all day to get money from you, they will make you wait hours until you pay.

Our tactics:

  • Play the stupid tourist.
  • Saying “I don’t understand. English? English?” several times.
  • Bring out a unhelpful Russian phrasebook after 10 minutes, to give the illusion you’re desperately trying to be helpful / understand.
  • Having a wallet full of forgien currency but no dollars or russian money
  • Keeping a very very small amount of Russian money in our wallet…. rest was hidden around the car.

Our routine

We had a whole routine to deal with police. Fortunately none of the police we encountered spoke english, so we used the language barrier to our advantage as much we could.

I’d get our car and go over and speak to them, I’d play the dumb tourist routine for about 10-15 minutes, constantly saying I didn’t understand and talking / hand gesturing about our holiday. Then a wing-man would come over and bring a russian phrase book and we’d flick through that for 10 minutes until the police realised it wasn’t helpful. Then when they asked for money I’d be sure to open my wallet infront of him, showing him nothing but small notes in foreign currency of all the countries I’d visited and offering him some forgien money and make up some bullshit about it being worth way more dollars than it was. When they see we’re trying to be really helpful we’re more believable when he claim to have no money. Once the police see no money, they’ll let you go.

My advice:

  • If you have rubels or dollars on you, hide them under the car mat or in the car ash tray.
  • Have lots of small foreign currency in your wallet
  • Keep 300 rubels in a backup wallet incase they still won’t let you go
  • Play dumb. We got off a lot of bribes by pretending we had no idea what we’d done / what was happening.
  • Have a few scanned, laminated copies of your driving your license to give to police. They won’t know its fake and if they turn their backs or go for lunch you can drive off and not worry about having no license.

Remember if you’re travelling through Russia, make sure you add on several hours on your journey to take into account police stops.