The following might be appropriate to this thread and is a copy of what I posted on another site.

This is a subject dear to a lot of our hearts (certainly to yours truly who has had more than his fair share of hassles). I have therefore been trying to track down my exact rights and responsibilities if I am indeed stopped by the militsia on the streets of Moscow. What are they allowed to do, and what not?

Sadly, I have not been able to (yet!) track information specific to foreigners, only to Russian citizens being stopped. However, I have yet to hear from anywhere that the rules pertaining to stopping foreigners on the street are any different to stopping Russian citizens.

As we all know the militsia tend to be a law unto themselves, and sadly, most Russians, either through ignorance of their rights, or conditioning from an early age, tend to meekly comply with whatever these bullies demand. Knowledge of your rights is important, even if all it does is embolden the militsia to abuse their authorities even more. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that if you do indeed know your rights, the militsia will back off.

A final note: I am not a lawyer, or an expert in such matters. All I have done is spend some time on the Russian internet to figure out these issues. I will add to this thread if I find out more information, and I would be grateful if others, who have established all the legalities of dealing with the militsia could add to the thread too.

Can Militsia stop me in the street for a document check?

Yes, but not just any old militsia. If you have committed no crime, only duly authorized beat cops (patrol’no-postovaya sluzhba) can stop you in the street, and then only on their ‘patch’ and within their duty period on that patch. All this is confirmed by their duty log (kartochka marshruta patrulirovaniya or kartochka posta) which they carry at all times. This log should clearly state the route of the patrol (i.e. ‘beat’), its limits, and the centre of the ‘post’. It should state the duty times for the patrol, as well as other operational information. Only these active-duty beat cops are allowed to check anyone’s documents IF no crime has been committed.

What this means is the Metro cops can’t stop you outside the Metro, cops from one part of town can’t stop you in another part of town. Further, specialized units of the MVD (OMON, Organised Crime unit, Economic Crime Unit, security details, etc.) are not allowed to stop citizens. Only the beat cops (patrol’no-postovaya sluzhba ) can stop you, and no one can stop you if they are not on active patrolling duty (as determined by the duty log they carry).

Its important to also note that, according to the law, citizens are obligated to comply only with legal requirements of any militsia person, and only during their active service on duty. Any cop who is loafing around drinking a pivo can not even approach a you unless he has a strong suspicion that you are up to no good, in which case he is obliged to inform you why he is hassling you.

The militsia is indeed allowed to check your documents (i.e. check your identity). According to Part 2, Article 11, of the RF Law ‘On Militsia’ they can check your documents only they have sufficient grounds to suspect you of committing a crime or breaking administrative laws. [sadly, the law doesn’t make clear anywhere what ‘sufficient grounds’ are.] Again, only duly authorized beat cops are allowed to check docs.

Is the Militsia allowed to check my registration/propiska/etc?

The answer is yes, and no. At least in Moscow, the head of the internal affairs for Moscow (i.e. the most senior policeman) issued a decree dated Aug 30, 2005 (, banning all checks of citizen registration, except for those units so authorized by law to do so, namely: the passport-visa dept., migration service and your local district police unit. This means that no militsia is authorized to check your registration outside of the area where you live, and they have to have a reason and be empowered to check. Given that they cannot check your registration, they cannot also claim infringements, and cannot detain you, or demand any ‘fines’ for any infringements of registration/ visa/ etc. The most they can do is alert your local beat cops (that are responsible for a particular area of the city). And even if your local cop comes knocking on your door, the most that he can do is give you a warning or, upon drawing up the suitable documents (protokol), fine you upto 1 (one) average monthly salary.

Note: no either officers are allowed to check your registration, not the GAI, other militsia people, militsia not on patrol, etc. The GAI are not even allowed to look at your documents if you are a passenger in a car.

How should the Militsia ‘meet and greet’ you in the street?

According to the Militsia charter (ustav which is confirmed by the MVD of Russia) if you are stopped by a militiaman he should greet you (using the “vy” form of address), salute, state his rank and full name, followed by a short explanation of why you were stopped by him. He is also obliged (upon request) to present his ID (sluzhebnoye udostoverniya) for you to familiarize yourself with it, without letting it out of his hand. i.e. you can look but not touch. You are allowed to look at it for as long as you need to, and it’s a very good idea to have some sort of pen and paper handy to jot down the details. If the cop starts taking away his documents before you have had a chance to look at them (and jot them down), you should simply ask him to continue showing it.

It is important that you have a look at the cop’s documents before he, for whatever reason, looks at yours. Don’t be shy or nervous about this – it is YOUR right! And by doing so, it will put him on the back foot (or alternatively might really p!$$ him off, however if you have nothing to hide then you should always insist on your rights!).

What documents constitute ‘establishing your idendity’ as far as the militsia are concerned?

The militsia’s primary right is the ability to check someone’s identity. Russian law establishes that a person’s passport is the primary document confirming someone’s identity, however neither the Law ‘On Militsia’ nor the charter of the patrol’no-postovaya sluzhba makes any mention of specifically needing to check someone’s passport. Further, no law or normative act, or rule affecting the activity of the militsia requires any citizen to carry their passport around with them at all times, or that only a passport is the correct identity document.

Any document can ‘establish your identity’ providing it contains the following:
• Personal photo
• Full name
• All other details that are required to be on the document
• Expiry date
• Details on the body issuing the document (name of body, address if a firm, etc.)
• Document must have a seal affixed to it
• Signature of the issuing official

Any document meeting the above criteria serves equally well as an identity document, although if it is a private company document then that should have full info on the company, allowing the militsia to contact them.

Can the militsia ask me for the purpose of my visit/stay in Moscow, duration, where I plan on staying?

These questions can only be posed if you have been detained for questioning (to establish your identity) at a police station. If a cop asks to see your documents on the street, he does not have the right to ask any additional questions at all. If for some reason you have been detained and taken to a police station, it is your right not even to answer these questions (although that would not look good). General advice would be to answer any such questions at the station in as vague a manner as possible, so as not to allow the militsia to ask any more ‘leading’ or trick questions.

Can the militsia extract any fine from you if they ‘discover’ any problems with your propiska/registration?

NO!!! Not under any circumstances. The only time any sort of fine can be levied is at a police station (see above).

Under what circumstances can you be detained and taken to a police station?

Assuming of course that you can committed no crime or infraction, the militsia do not have the right to detain you or take you to a police station and certainly not for any problems with a registration or propiska, even IF they were allowed to check to see that they were in order - which they don't. You can only be detained if you have no documents establishing your identity on your person, or the documents you do have have expired, or they have been tampered with, or the photo has come off. Even in these cases there is no obligation on the militsia to detain you and they are allowed to just give you a verbal warning.

Can the militsia confiscate or retain my documents/ passport?

The militsia do not have the right to hang on to your passport/ documents even if they insist on doing so. If, whilst perusing your documents/passport they don’t return them to you and insist you accompany them to their car (where they can attempt to extort a bribe), or go to a police station (ditto), you should insist that they return your docs to you before they do anything else. The law is quite clear on what situations allow for the confiscation of identity documents from a citizen, and being stopped for an identity check by the militsia is not one of them. Even if you are being ‘escorted’ to a police station for whatever reason, your personal docs should remain with you.

Does the militsia have the right to check my person, or my belongings during a document check?

According to Part 2, Art 11, of the RF Law ‘On Militsia’ they have the right to conduct a physical search only if they have sufficient evidence that a person has on their person weapons, ammunition, explosive substances, explosive devices, narcotics, psychotropic substances, and demand to see permits for carrying such items. As ever, what constitutes ‘sufficient evidence’ isn’t made clear, so de facto they can indeed be within their rights to search you. However, if you have not been taken to a police station, all they can do is suggest that you show them everything [and they are not allowed to touch]. If you don’t do so this is then sufficient grounds for you to be detained and taken to a police station. You should never hand anything over to them, or take things out in a police car, and you should never let anything leave your hands. You should also be very wary when doing so as the militsia might very easily slip ‘something’ into your bag or remove something.

Another thing to note. Much as the militsia like to think themselves better than Joe Public, they militsia system is geared up to take notice of official complaints, provided they are provided in the correct form. Complaints do get acted upon, and police officers do get reprimanded, have their pay docked, even put in jail.

So, always know your rights, make it a point to look at the militsia man's ID and note it down, AND most definitely file complaints if they have abused their authority. Obviously complaints can only be in Russian, so you will have to get someone to help you in compiling a complaint.