What can tourists of colour expect in St. Petersburg?
June 6, 2010 11:54 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I are planning on visiting St Petersburg, Russia this summer. We are an interracial Canadian couple, Caucasian wife and South Asian husband. What can we expect in terms of racism and harassment?

Some of the stuff we've read about St. Petersburg is making us second-guess our decision to go there. We plan on staying within the touristy areas and not venturing out too late at night. Are there any mefites of colour who have visited the city recently who can report back on the situation there?
posted by sid to Travel & Transportation around St. Petersburg, Russian Federation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do either of you speak or understand any Russian? Do you plan on adventuring out on your own or through a tour guide? My family and I (white) traveled there last summer, albeit with two Russian speakers and a tour guide (for a portion of the trip). Understanding the language made a huge difference, even in a metropolitan city like St. Petersburg.

Though I do realize this does not answer your questions, I think they are very import things to consider.
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 1:43 PM on June 6, 2010

I'm asian and traveled through Russia, spending time in Moscow, Vladimir (small town near Moscow), Irkutsk and Vladivostok. I had read about the neo-nazi resurgence in Russia, but experienced no real racism myself. I did see some antisemitic graffiti though. Just about everyone was very friendly to me, and often I was mistaken as a local (random russians asking me for directions, or for a light, etc.). Russia does border China, after all. I talked to lots of people riding the trans-siberian rail, everyone was nice and very interesting. I think you'll be fine, especially in such a cosmopolitan city like St. Petersburg.
posted by mnemonic at 2:43 PM on June 6, 2010

There is some racism towards Caucasians in Russia, but if you're dressed like a Canadian and obviously a foreigner you most likely won't have problems. Just don't go to dodgy areas (always wise advice) and you won't have an issue.
posted by atrazine at 1:39 AM on June 7, 2010

Wait, I sort of missed that Caucasian means something different in North America, disregard the first sentence of my comment.
posted by atrazine at 1:56 AM on June 7, 2010

I visited St. Petersburg in 2006 as part of a symphony choir tour.
One couple in the tour group of 60 people is an interracial couple.
The only difficulty we had that I can remember is from a group of French people while we were waiting in line at Peterhof. (they were trying to sneak ahead of our group, I thwarted them when I heard them plotting; after they heard my accent, they thought we were a Canadian group)
posted by Drasher at 6:03 AM on June 7, 2010

I'm Caucasian from the US (and Jewish, although I don't really "appear" Jewish) and went to St. Petersburg and Moscow with two Caucasian friends and one Pakistani American friend. We didn't encounter racism. In fact, my Pakistani friend never mentioned Russians being racist (he lives in Russia) - and he did mention being harassed in England and glared at in Vietnam.

My impression was that the Russian didn't seem particularly racist. However, they weren't particularly friendly to tourists either. No one seemed inclined to help/accommodate tourists - people jumping ahead of us in line and the museum workers who seemed annoyed at our presence. (No offense to Russians here. I met some really friendly people too, but they seemed to be people who I was introduced to through my friend, not random people on the street. Also I don't expect to be catered to. I just want to make that clear.)
posted by parakeetdog at 1:58 PM on June 7, 2010

(For people who want to write really clear answers in the future, please note that in the US at least Caucasians are generic white folk of European heritage. In the area in question it will refer more to people, you know, from the Caucasus, around southern Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Russia has a lot of political and racial and religious cans of worms involved with the latter group that are different from those with the former group.)
posted by whatzit at 1:21 PM on June 8, 2010

« Older Whence "didn't know from" ?   |   Can I ask my landlord to knock more of my rent? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.