Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Fake Currency & General Awareness Warning

Effects of the rapidly deteriorating economic situation in Russia are starting to be felt on the street. In the last two weeks I've seen and heard of more fake ruble notes than I have for the past few years.

The most commonly counterfeited notes are the 500 and 1000 ruble bills. Fakes I have seen range from basic colour photocopies, to highly sophisticated notes with raised printing and watermarks. The cheaper ones are a favourite of taxi drivers, but the better ones are good enough to have been handed back as change in some of Moscow's top nightclubs and bars (can't comment on intentionally or not) .

Moscow nightclubbers, please beware. Check all bills you receive, and if it doesn't look or feel right, raise your concern immediately BEFORE putting the bills in your wallet.

Also, the weekend saw the first drug raid of a major club (Rai) that I'd seen or heard of in some time. I don't know if this presages an increase across the city, or whether the economic situation means that someone didn't get paid off in time, but please be careful. Penalties for narcotic use (or a reasonable excuse for them to be planted on you) are severe in Russia.

Those of you who are regular readers know that I'm not prone to making public service announcements, but please understand that the Moscow nightlife scene is changing rapidly in response to the new economic environment- expect an increase in crime, fraud, shortchanging, underpoured drinks, police checks, unscrupulous devushki, etc.

On the bright side, if you can show evidence you'll be spending money at the bar, Feis Kontrol might go easier on you!

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