Most of the "old hands" know about a trick where criminals drop or leave some cash on the street, in front of someone they can see to be a tourist. If the unsuspecting tourist picks up the money, usually with the idea of trying to figure out whom it belongs to in order to return it -- the crook will appear, saying "hey, that's my money, and now some is missing -- you stole it!"
This is an excuse to try and take some of the tourist's money.
I've never seen one of these, but had heard about a variation on this where there are TWO crooks. One of them finds (or pretends to find) the money on the pavement, and then offers to "share" it with the tourist. Then the other crook comes along, demanding money...
On Friday, I ran into one of these. I was carrying all my baggage (I was switching apartments) so my status was rather obvious. Though I had once read about the 2-man money drop, I had forgotten about it, and didn't recognize it until it was well along.
Crook 1 was a pretty good actor -- he "picked up" a transparent plastic packet with a really impressive amount of cash inside -- Euros, GB Pounds, Rubles and Hryvnia. His manner was very friendly and good-humored. He started talking to me in Russian about his remarkable discovery. He went to one side and motioned me to come to him, and then seemed like he was ready to give me some of his lucky find. I should have been alerted by then, but I was very much focused on getting my baggage to my flat. I was trying to think how to explain in Russian that I didn't want any of the money. No sooner did he try to hand me some cash than Crook 2 came along, making accusations in English. He pretty quickly put his hand on my arm -- this is a moment of danger, because physical contact can be the distraction for pickpocketing.
By this time, I finally got it. I insisted (pretty angrily) in Russian 2 or 3 times, "I don't have it," and was back underway at full speed. They didn't try to take their drama any farther. It was all over in a few seconds. Rather annoying, but no harm done.
Your old correspondent wears a "pony tail", in reckless disregard of how unfashionable this is. A few hours ago, I was walking in a busy well-lighted square with many people about, when in an instant I felt myself grabbed from behind. My first thought was, "this guy is trying to grab my wallet."
I was wrong -- he had me by the hair, and pulled me down to the ground, so abruptly that I was frightened (in that brief moment) of hitting my head hard on the pavement, which can be truly dangerous. With the combination of being pulled by the hair and off-balance, I was not nearly agile enough to spin around -- I didn't see my assailant, but I heard his laugh as he quickly retreated (I was flat on my back). I suppose it was a young punk who thought to amuse himself and his companions.
Apart from a bit of a scrape to the elbow and a slight headache (I don't think my landing on the pavement was very hard, but it happened so quickly), I came through fine -- but my date, who was right beside me, was really deeply disturbed. She is prone to anxiety under the best of circumstances, and seemed almost distraught. It was about two hours before she seemed quite herself again -- she was telling stories from her school days, and we both laughed.
I have no 'moral' with which to conclude this story -- I have spent about 200 nights in the Russian-speaking world, this is the first time I had any such experience. Mainly, I was relieved that the attack was so insignificant. Most random violence involving tourists (probably including this little knock-down) are associated with groups of young men who have been drinking.
I have told of my being pickpocketed in Kiev. I told this story just to warn others, but someone in this forum has used it against me to show I don't know what I'm doing. Still, I believe others should be warned.
Actually, I was watching against pickpockets. This was my third trip to Ukraine and I was warned many times. I carried my camera and my wallet in my front pocket. I usually have have my hands holding them, once they are in my front pockets.
If I had to guess what really happened, perhaps I wasn't pickpocketed at all. The evening before, my camera and my wallet was beside my bed. That morning was our last evening in that apartment and the agency manager came to say hello the next morning. She showed us an entrance to other places in the apartment. It was an entrance to another room that wasn't furnished and a ladder to an attic or another room. I wasn't really that interested, but I went with my gf with the manager.
While we were being shown other parts of the apartment, the maid came in. My wallet and camera was still in the bedside table. Leaving the apartment, there were many things we had to pack, including the things we shopped for in our time at Kiev. I checked beside my bed, and it was empty. In my mind, it was probably already in my pocket. But actually, I don't remember putting them in my pocket. We took a subway trip and we realized that I didn't have my camera and my wallet. I don't believe it was pickpocket. I think it was the maid.
Actually, she has shown no interest in changing my look. And for what it's worth, I can think of three Russians who told me that on the street I pass for a Russian -- though when interacting with people (apart from my grammar mistakes) I am too polite and smile too much.
I can't reach into the mind of the particular punk (not an attractive proposition, anyway) ... but I would bet my money on the "kick me" sign being the young Ukrainian woman at my side. She is quite the chatterbox, and characteristically was spouting English at about one mile per minute.
I can't take a long walk on the streets of Kyiv, without seeing at least one local girl speaking in English with one of "us." It is no mystery to me, that many Ukrainians resent this!
dont forget about the scam where one guy is trying to help another seemingly drunk guy who ends up falling down just as you walk by. Most westerners will instinctively want to render aid at which time you get pick pocketed while helping him to his feet. just walk on by
I have met a few alpha-males who reside in Moscow but conduct business in Ukraine, and happen to sport pony-tails. Such hair is not considered to be mainstream or conservative, to be sure - but if you pick up a copy of Russian GQ (quite a bit different than Amerian GQ) - you will find some number of male models who wear long hair in that manner. I'm just sayin'.....
Regarding the black leather coat - that happens to be my style anyway - so its always helped me to fit in. I have different types for different occasions, a long leather trench coat for more formal dress (which the women reaaly seem to like) and smaller coats dpending on the time of year I am visiting.
And the slip-on pointy shoes are a must, but you absolutely cannot wear the same pair in winter and summer. The winter shoes are fur-lined and water-proof Ukrainians walk EVERYWHERE and quite a lot of cold and puddles need to be endured.
Summer shoes are light and though they used too have to be black - not so much anymore, now they seem to wear a lot of light browns and tans. But athletic shoes are still taboo for anyone over 30.
And woe to anyone foolish enough to wear summer shoes in winter or vice versa. You will be caught, exposed and looked upon in disbelief.
I wear the same everyday leather shoes year-round in the US an I happen to live in a cold climate area - because lke most Americans I'm practically always in a building or in my car. Not so in Ukraine.
"I can't take a long walk on the streets of Kyiv, without seeing at least one local girl speaking in English with one of "us." It is no mystery to me, that many Ukrainians resent this!
If you ask me the most resentment of locals is a foreigner coming there to 'take' a girl away from
the country. Second is being ridiculed by looking like a tourist, as in guy with ponytail(durak) or even a black guy and these happen more at night. Third is speaking english aloud but it is more of catching a listener than any else. I have never had any trouble in either russia, ukraine or moldova with anybody other than the police. In St Pete's I was asked for my papers constantly and asked questions by police( at night) in Chisinau. If I felt someone grabbing me, any of me, first thing that goes up is a forearm in a defensive position.........I doubt if it is someone I know.
In regard to money drop, happened to me on Khreschtik on my 2nd trip. I did look the tourist, listening to my ipod while walking one afternoon. One guy ran by me fast and 'dropped' something,
as i got to it another man next to me stopped, we yelled to guy that he dropped something, other man picked up wad of money, as we were speaking another man stopped and said he was a policeman. He asked man who dropped money if all was alright...at that moment, cop asked man who stopped with me to see his money, he pulled it out then cop looked at me and asked to see my money......that is when it hit me what was really happening, I looked at cop and told him if he wants to see my money I am going to policestation and I will meet them there. I did read here on forum about not picking up anything. Another thing thats comes to mind is in Odessa on Deribasovskaya, some girls stop to talk to you in english.....don't stop, they are either hookers or girls that will accuse you of assalting them.
"If you ask me the most resentment of locals is a foreigner coming there to 'take' a girl away from the country. Second is being ridiculed by looking like a tourist, as in guy with ponytail(durak) or even a black guy and these happen more at night. Third is speaking english aloud but it is more of catching a listener than any else."
How come I don't know or have noticed that? There's one thing wrong in your quest, Beemer. You're to conscious of things that don't matter. Who cares what locals think? If it is your girl, it's none of their business. Who cares if anyone ridicules you as a tourist? I have not noticed any of these. People have come out of their way at times to come an speak English to me.
FSU is not the only place in the world where this sort of thing happens jet. Any big city in Europe has their share of a variation of the street scam.
I tend to give the locals a wide body swerve if they start displaying symptoms of odd behavoir.
In the words of one of my favourite toons..."Walk on by"
I was in Kiev on the 16th of October, spending the weekend there when I was walking with an Aussie mate from the hostel I was staying at (I was on my way down south, but thats another story) about 9pm on Saturday night from the pub back to the hostel to get ready for going out clubbing - In a semi-dark street next to Kreshatyk (sorry, misspelt) a local bloke with his mate, walking towards us, shoulder charged me like he wanted a fight - He wasn't drunk, so I'm guessing (I could be wrong) it was racially motivated (I'm asian in appearance) - My aussie mate wanted to fight, but I just ignored it and we walked off. Add to that I have an injured ankle, so I can't run at all - Moral of the story, never fight the locals, you never know how many of them are hiding out...
"How come I don't know or have noticed that? There's one thing wrong in your quest, Beemer. You're to conscious of things that don't matter. Who cares what locals think?"
More incompetence from you Mr Bull. Locals DUE matter and how they view tourists. Just ask durak if he thinks local don't matter( lucky he didn't fall on his head) or jet when he was assaulted in Latvia or nasfan's wife's friend helping her decide to go or the guy that was beat up while jogging one morning or local police questioning tourists or just read zealman79's post, I am sure there are others with a story!!!
In relation to women...I have many friends in Odessa, many local guys in 20's hang around a friends restaurant, my friends know them well...my facts come from these guys...most I think is jealousy because they have little....most of day is drinking beer for young guys...they are very cognisant of young girls with older guys.
There is a saying...when you got the law, pound the law.....when you got the facts, pound the facts and when you got neither, pound the table...you Mr Bull can be found contantly pounding the table!!!!
What facts didn't I get? I am not doubting you, but still, who cares? That happens here. That happens everywhere where you got something that others can't have. You become scared of what locals think about your getting a woman over there? You and a woman decide to go out. Whose business is it? What good does it do to harbor your thoughts if not to slow you down?
What do you do about it? Lose weight. Work out. Be able to defend yourself or at least be able to survive an attack. With your attitude, you might as well not go.
I've never thought that I look particularly "Russian," but I couldn't believe how often people in Russia and Ukraine would stop and ask me for directions (no cons, just genuine seekers of help). A bit disappointed that I couldn't help them, but at least it got me a few smiles.