Is Belarus Safe? 5 Things You Should Know About Crime

Here's everything travelers need to know about crime, scams, civil unrest and the potential threat of terrorism in Belarus.

Belarus, Memorial Church of All Saints in Memory of Innocent Victims in our Fatherland Photo © Getty Images/Frans Sellies

Crime in Belarus

Belarus is generally a safe place for travelers. Violent crimes against travelers are rare, however you should always exercise common sense. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, don't be a hero – hand over whatever it is the perpetrator is asking for, or try to walk away and find a safe place.

The biggest threat to travelers in Belarus is petty theft, particularly on public transport, sleeper trains, and in popular tourist destinations around Minsk.

  • Be cautious, alert and aware of your surroundings and belongings at all times
  • Keep your wallet, bag or backpack zipped shut and in front of you
  • Men should try to keep their wallets in the front rather than the back pocket
  • Don't carry large sums of money with you, or draw attention to yourself
  • Wealthy tourists represent rich pickings for Belarusian thieves, so don't make it obvious by wearing flashy jewelry or super fancy clothing.

Another target for thieves in Belarus is European, Japanese and American-made SUV and luxury cars. Car jacking is rare, but car theft and theft of car parts is common here. Again, inconspicuousness is the key: park in secure overnight parking areas, and don't leave valuables on the back seat of the car – hide your belongings in the boot or beneath seats if you absolutely have to keep them in the car.

Drink Spiking and Drugs in Belarus

While there are strong penalties for possession or use of drugs in Belarus (convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines), there have been reports of drugged travelers by drink spiking in nightclubs. It can be very difficult to tell if your drink has been spiked, so here are a few ways to avoid it:

  • Never accept a drink from a stranger
  • Don't leave your drink unattended
  • Try to keep your hand over your drink if you are walking through nightclubs or bars
  • Don't drink anything you didn't open yourself, see it be opened or poured by a bar tender
  • If you think your drink has been spiked, if you feel dizzy or sick, ask someone you trust to take you to a safe place or a hospital, and report it to the authorities.

Prostitution is fairy common in Belarus, and it's not unheard of for sex-workers to attempt to enter hotels in search of customers. This really only happens at smaller, local hotels.

Capital Punishment

Belarus and Russia are the only countries in Europe which still have capital punishment. Execution is the punishment for murder, terrorism, treason, conspiracy and sabotage. If you are arrested for a crime in Belarus, you may not have automatic access to your consular official and you may be summarily expelled, arrested or imprisoned.

Civil Unrest in Belarus

Belarus is an authoritarian state. Political unrest or dissention is not tolerated at all, and as a foreigner you should stay well away from any political demonstrations, marches or large public gatherings. In late 2010 a pro-democracy rally in central Minsk was violently dispersed by authorities. Several presidential candidates remain in KGB jails, facing prison terms of up to 15 years for organizing riots and mass disorders.

If you participate in any kind of rally or demonstration, particularly if you are caught holding a banner expect to be detained within minutes and how fast you are released or get access to consular officials will very much depend on your social network in Belarus.

Terrorism in Belarus

There is also a general threat from terrorism in Belarus. Bombings have occurred in 2005, 2008 and 2011. In the most recent incident 14 people were killed and more than two hundred were injured in an explosion on the Minsk Metro. There is a general threat from terrorism in Belarus. Be alert, aware and make sure you register with consular officials.

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4 Comments

  • Aliona said

    Not sure if you ever visited Belarus and Minsk in particular. It’s listed in top 10 countries in the world for safety and what you describing is pretty wild 90s era. Minsk is very safe for anyone to visit!

  • ALEH ARLOW said

    Belarus is really safe country. You can safely walk at night. If you meet drunk people, then (most likely) will try to treat you :). Good, friendly attitude to foreigners prevails among the population. But, often poor knowledge of English and other foreign languages. Tourism is intensively developed and supported by the state. Many say that we have a wonderful nature. Come visit and see for yourself.

  • Derek said

    Totally agree with the comments above. Belarus is a beautiful country with very clean cities and very freindly people in my experiance. I have never seen so many beautiful ladies in all my travels and I am lucky enough to be married to a Belorussian lady myself. We lived in Spain, France, Andorra and Ireland (my country) together but we now live just outside the city of Grodno with our 4 young children and loving life. I would rate Belarus a much safer place than every other country I have lived in for the pure reason that I have never felt treatened once there and I am in the city every weekend in the evenings playing in the bars and walking in the streets late night / early morning. I haven't withnessed, nor heard of crime there over the past 4 years living there and I have noticed there are no homeless people ( or I just haven't seen any) compared to my home town, Dublin where we have homeless Famileis!
    The artical above in my opinion is very far off the Mark..... or as previously said.... completely out of date!

  • Angela Lapham said

    Minsk feels so safe, and the people are so kind, and it is so beautiful-looking and clean. It was a relief to be there after cities like London.
    Also, Russia does not have capital punishment.

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