Is Belarus Safe? 5 Things You Should Know About Crime

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and travel: The situation around the world is changing dramatically. Various governments have changed their travel warnings to restrict travel during this time. To understand how this may impact cover under your policy, please go to our FAQs and select your country of residence.

For the latest travel warnings and alerts around the world, read about lockdowns and border restrictions.

Just how safe is Belarus for travelers? Everything you need to know about crime, scams, civil unrest and the potential threat of terrorism in Belarus.

Shares

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions in Belarus – updated 22 October, 2020: Travelers arriving from countries where COVID-19 cases have been reported (check for the latest updates on the Belarus Government website) must self-isolate for 10 days. Foreign travelers must have a negative PCR COVID-19 test result taken within 48 hours of arrival. Check to see if you require a visa. Foreign travelers must have valid medical insurance to cover their stay.

Before you buy a travel insurance policy, check your government travel warnings and health advice – there may be no travel insurance cover for locations with a government travel ban or health advice against travel.

Wondering how your travel insurance might be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak? Find answers to some of our common questions about COVID-19.

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.

Civil unrest in Belarus

Following elections held in August 2020, a wave of anti-government protests began after its authoritarian president since 1994, Alexander Lukashenko, claimed to have won an 80% victory. The election outcome was widely contested, and media outlets have reported protestors being detained and injured on the streets. The opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanouskaya, fled Belarus for her safety a few days after the election.

Belarus is an authoritarian state. Political unrest or dissention is not tolerated, and foreign travelers 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 faced 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. Avoid any political demonstrations at all costs.

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 try to enter hotels in search of customers. This really only happens at smaller, local hotels.

Capital punishment

As of 2020, Belarus is the only country in Europe which still has 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.

Terrorism in Belarus

Terrorist attacks have not occurred in Belarus in recent years, however terrorism can occur anywhere and the threat cannot be ruled out entirely. Before you travel, check your government travel advisory.

Bombings have occurred in 2005, 2008 and 2011. In the 2011 Minsk Metro bombing, 14 people were killed and more than two hundred were injured in an explosion.

Be alert, but not alarmed. Always register your trip with consular officials.

Get a travel insurance quote for Belarus

You can buy at home or while traveling, and claim online from anywhere in the world. With 150+ adventure activities covered and 24/7 emergency assistance.

Related articles

11 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!

    Reply

  • 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.

    Reply

  • 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!

    Reply

  • 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.

    Reply

  • Dave Load said

    I agree with the authors comments. Don't listen to all the good comments. You need to be streetwise in every country in the world. Protect yourself and your family.

    Reply

  • Nick Wear said

    Thank you for all the information I require on visiting Belarus. I am going on a train journey from North West Europe to the furthest I am able to reach of Eastern Europe. I am 64 now, it's on my bucket list to do. Thank you Nick.

    Reply

  • Bextol Anderson said

    Nice facts of yours. There's also an interesting fact. Belarus is such a lowland. "The highest point of Belarus is Dzyarzhynskaya Hara, with its official height being 346 m (1,135 ft)."

    Reply

  • Vincent said

    I have been doing business in Belarus for over 30 years - in fact I say we pushed the wall down to get in.
    I call Minsk my second home. It the cleanest safest city in the now CIS with honest, friendly, well educated people. No hesitation in recommending anyone to visit
    Enjoy and keep our secret!!!

    Reply

  • Joshua said

    Does anyone no, if your visiting Belarus from England in the next couple of weeks. At Minsk airport are you asked for a certificate showing a negative test result? Because I’m reading on some sites you do and others you don’t! Please someone help me?!

    Reply

    • Amelia Brady said

      Hi Joshua,

      I have just updated the information here to be up to date!

      The UK Government travel advice currently states (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/belarus/entry-requirements)
      "Arrivals from countries affected by coronavirus must self-isolate for a period of 14 days, regardless of whether they show symptoms. Those arriving from the UK with a medical certificate showing a negative coronavirus test result, issued no later than 48 hours before entry, will not need to self-isolate."

      Cheers,
      Amelia, World Nomads

      Reply

Add a Comment