Generally, Belarus is a safe place for travellers. Violent crimes against travellers are rare, however you should always exercise common sense; if you find yourself in a dangerous situation don't be a hero.
The biggest threat to travellers in Belarus tends to be petty theft, particularly on public transport (sleeper trains in particular) and in popular tourist spots (such as they are).
Be cautious, alert and aware of your surroundings and belongings at all times. Keep your wallet, bag or backpack closed 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 or draw undue attention to yourself. Rich western tourists represent rich pickings for Belarusian thieves!
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 isn't. Again, inconspicuousness is key: park in secure overnight parking and don't leave yourself open to risk.
While there are strong penalties for possession or use of drugs in Belarus (convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines) it still happens and drugging of travellers by drink spiking in nightclubs is not uncommon. It can be very difficult to tell if your drink has been spiked, so to avoid it here are a few simple tips:
-Don't accept drinks from strangers
- Don't leave your drink unattended
-Don't drink anything you didn't open, see open or poured
If you think your drink has been spiked, if you feel dizzy or sick get someone you trust to take you to a safe place or a hospital and report it to the authorities.
Prostitution is fairy common and it is not unheard of for them to attempt to open hotel door rooms in search of customers, talk about door to door salesman-ship! However, this tends to only happen at smaller local hotels.
Finally, Belarus is the only country in Europe which still has capital punishment; execution is the punishment for murder, terrorism, treason, conspiracy and sabotage. Also, 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.
Be under no illusions, Belarus is an authoritarian state. Political unrest or dissention is not tolerated 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.
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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