Safety in Russia

The US Department of State (DOS) has updated its information for US citizens traveling abroad. Under the previous Travel Warning system, there was no warning against travel to Russia. Under the revised Travel Advisory system, Russia is now categorized as a Level 3 country, meaning the US State Department encourages travelers to reconsider travel to Russia. The DOS also advises travelers not to travel to the North Caucasus and Crimea.

Global Rescue, our international security consultant, did not change its risk assessment level based on the new DOS levels. They assign a “moderate” rating for both security risk and medical risk, where the range of their rating system includes low, moderate, high, and extreme. Russia does remain subject to terrorist activity; however, Global Rescue maintains that the threat level is roughly equal to Western European destinations, some of which the DOS rates as a Level 2 country.

Middlebury continues to operate its program in Russia at all three sites: Irkutsk, Moscow, and Yaroslavl. We have full-time local staff members in all three locations to support the students, and Middlebury has developed strong working relationships with partner universities in Russia who serve as a resource to our staff and students. The Russian government is leading an initiative to attract foreign students to the country, and the government has a vested interest in ensuring Russia’s reputation as a safe location for foreign students. While there have been very few reports of law-abiding US students being harassed by local law enforcement, we do remind students on our program of the challenges they may face if they’re found breaking the law, particularly if they are detained while attending an opposition protest. Students enrolled in Middlebury’s School in Russia are not permitted to participate in local demonstrations or protests, and they are regularly reminded of this policy by the staff in Russia. Additionally, students are discouraged from traveling to the North Caucasus and Crimea, echoing the DOS advisory for those particular regions.

As with all locations where Middlebury Schools Abroad operate, we continue to monitor the safety and security where our students study. We want all of our students to have a meaningful, enriching, and safe experience.