So as 2017 is finishing we are looking to 2018 and the Football World Cup in the summer 2018; it may seem a long way in the future, but it is important to get ready early. So here are some thoughts just as everyone is getting ready for the holidays.
RPS Partnership is looking to ensure that we get the best and most up to date information for all journalists planning to go to Russia either to cover the sport itself or to cover news and current affairs as part of the sport.
We want all journalists to be prepared to work there and have a hassle-free time. It is not the easiest place to work and it is easy to fall foul of the bureaucracy in the country and the region. To that end we are bringing you the latest information and advice from journalists working in Russia and those with expert knowledge of the region.
Contact us on email@example.com if you need more information, advice or training. We can also organise a briefing from a Russia expert.
Russia wants the World Cup to go smoothly as they don’t want bad publicity. They will, without doubt, go into “hospitality mode”, but will come down hard if required and people are not “playing their game” (no pun intended). The is may of course be naïve optimism, however our Russia advisors are indeed cautiously optimistic that the security apparatus will not bother law abiding journalists. In normal circumstances the police should not bother you if all your documents are in order – see below. If you have a problem, you would be advised to contact the police as the first point of call; but do not expect them to speak good English so take a Russian speaker with you.
Accreditation for media
You must officially be in Russia with official press accreditation. You will need to get a temporary work visa too. Don’t be tempted to go in on a tourist visa and trust your luck. If you get caught the penalties will be tough and you will be immediately deported and your news agency will not be penalised.
So official media visa and accreditation are the order of the day in this region.
There is still time to apply and some European media networks have had theirs turned down so best get in quick, so you know you have yours.
If you buy a ticket for the match, you will get a fan ID too.
Filming on the streets
You will need a permit to film in the streets or set up a studio near to the stadium or anywhere outside. Even with this permit, it is still prudent to ask permission before you start filming.
Covering sensitive subjects is tricky and can get you into trouble. Sensitive subjects include the following: the opposition, ethnic minorities who are not supporting the games, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) and doping issues.
If you plan to cover these subjects, then contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more advice and training as you may well be subject to surveillance and harassment and in rural areas they may not care that you do or don’t have accreditation.
Importing media equipment/Customs
All equipment must be imported into Russia using a ATA carnet which must be translated into Russian before you travel. This is effectively your export licence. If you also have a letter listing all your equipment with your organisation’s logo and stamp on it in Russian, you will find it easier to glide through customs in Russia. If not, you are at their mercy. It takes around 2 weeks to get this carnet, but may take longer as the games get closer.
Get all documents translated into Russian.
Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork! Get it right and be organised; yes, more organised than usual!
Police stops in Russia
If you are stopped by the police in Russia, it is probable that they may not speak English, so they will want to see some sort of ID with your photo and name. An international drivers licence is good as they have the writing in Russian; this can be bought in UK post offices on production of a UK drivers licence. There is no electronic system so make sure you have paper and copies of your document ready to leave with the police if you need to. Double check everything.
Ensure that everything with a serial number, including cell phones/mobile is on a list and translated into Russian.
Foreigners are more likely to be seen in international standard hospitals. If you call 112 they will be able to see you calling on an international phone and may have an English speaker on the other end. This is not guaranteed, so you may want to ensure that you have a Russian speaker nearby. We advise all journalists to carry their own personal first aid and trauma kit and know how to use it, so they are prepared for any eventuality.
Look here for the list of medical facilities in Russia
Ambulances can take a long time in Russia and the fire service and police are not usually massively helpful. However, in the world cup we are hoping that things may be different as this is a chance to showcase to the world, so we are hoping they will be slightly more helpful than usual.
Healthcare in general in Russia urges caution. Unless surgery is critical, we would advise waiting and get back to your own country or another country where medical care is more akin to your own country.
This is one of the most pressing areas of concern and one which you must take seriously for your personal protection and those working for networks. Russia uses SORM3 advanced surveillance systems and they have the ability to self-destruct your hard drive in the extreme case. The current form of the system enables the targeted surveillance of both telephone and Internet communications.
Don’t leave phones, tablets and computers unattended in your hotel rooms or in public places. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to connect to insecure hotel networks and try to ensure that you done some sort of vetting on your interpreter/fixer, but be careful leaving equipment unattended; speak to your IT expert about encryption.
If it is too obvious they may well ask you to switch the computer on and you may have to show them what you have on your machine, so be prepared and have backup systems ready for this.
You should assume that your equipment comes back “contaminated” ie may have some sort of gremlin on it, and speak to your IT department about how they wish to deal with this. Do not connect to your network until you have spoken to an expert.
Should you need a lawyer, please look here for the full list of lawyers in cities all over Russia.
Contact us for more information on email@example.com and any training to prepare you for Russia; either security or First Aid.
Map: FCO website with thanks