Black visitors will also have to be extra careful when they venture outside of Moscow into the rest of Russia. In a chilling warning, the Russia expert of New Republic, Julie Ioffe, said, “There’s quite a bit of violence against people considered to be Black” in Russia, raising new fears about the safety of Olympic athletes, visitors and media attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Ioffe warned that nowhere in Russia is safe for a person of color to visit, outside of Moscow’s city center.
During an “Ask Me Anything” discussion on the social media site Reddit, Ioffe was asked by a Black college student whether it is safe for an African-American to study in Russia.
Here’s her answer:
“Hmmmm, that’s a tough one. I think that, for the most part, you’d be okay — if you consider people glaring at you and cracking racist jokes okay. (Russians are, er, not the most tolerant bunch.) There’s quite a bit of violence against people considered to be black, which includes, in the Russian mind, people from Central Asia and the Caucasus. My advice is go, but stick to the city center and try to go to a bigger city like Moscow. (St. Pete is crawling with skinheads.) Be extra, extra careful and make sure the American Embassy knows you’re there. They have a special unit to deal with threats to American citizens, so you should report anything that happens immediately.”
Learn more about the history of African-American travel abroad: