This Simple Mistake Could Get You Arrested In Russia

People have a lot of preconceived ideas about Russia. Yes, the country has notoriously been plastered across screens in high alert news coverages over the past few months, but even before that, people viewed the vast, snowy, and mysterious region of the world with a sense of tense suspicion and wonder. Our relations with Russia throughout the 20th century and beyond have been, how shall we say... less than cordial. However, the country happens to be home to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes and historic monuments on earth. The beautiful forests of Altai and the vibrant towers of St. Petersburg that seem to pierce the sky are some of the country's most cherished destinations for tourists and citizens alike (via Global Grasshopper).

However, there are a few notable rules of thumb to bear in mind if you ever venture there yourself. Certain gestures that may seem like trivial missteps here in the U.S. could be considered significant insubordinations in Russia. One common mistake some of us make on a daily basis stands out.

You could get arrested for not having ID on you

Here in the U.S., if you leave your ID at home, you probably won't be able to swing through the gas station and grab that case of beer your friends asked you to pick up for the Super Bowl party. Maybe you'll get denied entry at the door to some popular night club while your friends saunter on in and have the time of their lives without you. Bummer, right? In either case, it's not nearly as bad as what could happen if you do the same thing over in Russia. According to The Culture Trip, if you're stopped on the streets by a Russian police officer without any form of ID, you could wind up in the slammer. 

While you probably won't be looking at any serious time (three hours at most) for simply leaving your license at home, Russian authorities are sensitive to someone's failure to produce identification for national security purposes, so a thorough background check is routine if this happens. True, it could be considered invasive and unwarranted to just stop someone who isn't causing any problems and demand personal credentials, but unfamiliar territory means unfamiliar customs, so be sure to carry your ID with you at all times if you ever visit Russia (per Russia Beyond).

Other things that can get you arrested in Russia

There are certain Russian laws that may look familiar to some of those we see in U.S. For instance, smoking in restaurants, bars, and other dining and drinking facilities is strictly prohibited. Seat belt laws, rigorous anti-intoxicated driving regulations, and no open alcohol containers on the streets are among a few others that one can sensibly understand and justify (via The Culture Trip). If you dig a little deeper, however, things start to look a little more troubling.  

The Russian government has a different approach to free speech. In May of 2017, Darya Kulakova (23) spent 10 days in jail after she penned a letter to president Vladimir Putin requesting that he not run for a fourth term in office. A nursery school teacher, on similar grounds, was fined a hefty sum for painting easter eggs with "Freedom for Maltsev" written across their surfaces in April of the same year. Authorities detested the support she was allegedly showing for a certain anti-establishment blogger (per RFERL).