East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 5, No. 1, Winter 1997, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe

On Crime and Culture Shock

Joseph D. Serio

On Crime Against Foreigners
There has been considerable talk both in Russia and the West about the severity of the crime problem in the former Soviet Union.  Conditions have worsened since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but large Russian cities are generally as safe as most Western capitals.  The most common threat to foreigners is traditional street crime: car thefts, burglaries, robberies, theft, and assault.  Police say 40 percent of crimes against foreigners occur in apartments and hotels, 30 percent in the streets, and 7 percent are related to motor transport--primarily vehicular and car radio theft. Foreigners are victimized as they are in most other cities in the world, and the first to suffer are those who do not maintain awareness. The dramatic increase in crime against foreigners after the collapse of the Soviet Union has been noted time and again in the press.  However, these figures need to be put in perspective: after the end of the union, visitors from the 14 non-Russian former republics were suddenly considered foreigners, so a dramatic rise in crime against "foreigners" was unavoidable.

On Culture Shock
People suffering from culture shock decide that most Aeroflot flights crash, that nearly everyone gets mugged on trains, and that most Russians are mafia.  Adjusting from one culture to another is stressful.  You will feel depressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, and surrounded.  Whereas in your country you might realistically get 20 small tasks done in one day, it might take a week or more in Russia.

Take steps to cope with culture shock:

Excerpt reprinted with permission from Joseph D. Serio, Guidelines for Safety and Security in Russia (New York: Kroll Information Services, 1996).  Copies of the 40-page Guidelines are available for $50 from Kroll Associates, 900 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022; tel: 212-833-3206; fax: 212-750-8112; e-mail: marquetc@internetmci.com.  Credit cards accepted. 

Joseph D. Serio, "On Crime and Culture Shock", East-West Church & Ministry Report, 5 (Winter 1997), 4.

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1997 Institute for East-West Christian Studies
ISSN 1069-5664

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