Is it safe to travel alone in Russia?

Before I came to Russia, travel guides and word of mouth led me to believe that the former Soviet Republic is the wild, wild west of thugs and thieves, a dangerous place not to be taken lightly. Frankly, I feel less safe in America than I do in Russia, where guns are illegal and the penalties for theft are severe.

Severe is probably an understatement: The hostel where I am currently staying said once a Russian guest got drunk and stole a faucet from the sink, the kind of fratboy prank that would be ignored a thousand times over in America, but this particular Russian is now serving two years in prison; the guy who stole a camera and laptop, four years in prison. If you got your laptop stolen in America, you'd be lucky if the police would take the time to respond to the call. More likely you'd file a report on your own and it'd go straight into the trash.

Yes, there is organized crime, but Russian businesses have far more money than tourists, and the only thing they might want from you is your passport. Like in any country, don't get drunk at a club and wander home alone at three in the morning. That's where you are bound to get in trouble: thugs posting up at the club to follow the drunkest foreigner(s) home, especially if the language you speak is a passport of interest.

I have not felt unsafe in Moscow, even for a second, and the dangers in the Russian Far East and Siberia were mostly in my head: afraid of what I didn't see, the empty streets, cold and dark and icy passages. Probably the most dangerous thing in Siberia and the Russian Far East were the feral dogs, and even those are more bark than bite. Rabies is uncommon here, but I strongly suggest getting vacinnated against rabies if you plan on spending any time in rural Russia, if only for your peace of mind, because even if the dogs are all bark and no bite, it is a pretty nasty bark and you are a long way from major hospitals.

This has just been my experience, traveling alone from one side of the country to the other. I am sure people get mugged by the dozens or maybe even hundreds in Moscow every day; after all, it is one of the biggest cities in the world, but if you are considering visiting Russia but are hesitant because you are afraid, I suggest you purge yourself of those fears and make it happen. Just plan ahead, because getting a Russian visa can be a slow and relatively expensive process.