Russia has more surface area than the planet of Pluto, and natural resources with an estimated worth of 75 trillion US dollars. It’s the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, and has the largest reserves of this resource on the planet. Russia is a country rich in timber, gold, metals and minerals of all kinds. One lake in Russia is responsible for 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, and four of the 10 largest rivers in the world can be found in Russia. Yet, this country is often in the news for warfare, and less noted for its achievements and natural beauty. These photos are real and undoctored, and they show the absurd truth of what life is really like in Russia.
Make no mistake, despite all the things Russia has to speak for in its favor, this is the most dangerous country in the world. Each one of these 15 photos shows another layer of Russia, another reason why even a vacation here can become a fatally dangerous trip. People living here are constantly at risk. You won’t want to believe your eyes when you see these photos, but don’t close them just the same. These photos are absurd because they are real, and they all have a powerful story of their own to tell.
This is not an image of a war zone in the far-flung reaches of Russia. This image was taken in Moscow, which was rated as one of the 25 most dangerous cities on Earth in 2015. Personal safety levels in Moscow are the lowest for any city in Europe. Research shows that people living in Russia are afraid of their own police force, and perhaps with good reason. It’s difficult to even obtain actual hard statistics in Russia as far as murder rate and other crimes are concerned. Researchers say Russia has big problems with police violence, political corruption and a weakened justice system. Bribery is common in Russia, and at times expected. Street crime is particularly common in Moscow, with a high number of pickpockets and purse-snatchers at work.
14. Nuclear Weapons
In addition to its abundance of natural resources, Russia has another huge stockpile: the world’s largest number of nuclear weapons. Currently, Russia is the world’s second-largest arms exporter. More than 90 percent of the nuclear warheads in the world are owned by the U.S. and Russia. The country currently has 1,765 strategic warheads deployed around the world. There are around 2,700 non-deployed tactical warheads in the country, and another 2,510 warheads waiting to be dismantled as part of the Nonproliferation Treaty. The sheer size of Russia’s weapons stockpile makes it a frighteningly dangerous country. The fact is, Russia has enough firepower to destroy the world.
13. Soccer Fans
Russia has some of the most passionately violent soccer fans in the world. Public brawls and even riots are not uncommon before and after soccer games involving Russian fans. Russian officials have even supported such public displays of violence, encouraging and advocating the fights through social media sites like Twitter. This happened after the 2016 European Championships. After Russian fans were at the center of violent brawls at the game, one government official tweeted “Well done guys. Keep it up!” It is truly dangerous to attend a soccer game in which Russia will be playing, as the fans can erupt violently at any time.
Parts of Russia are within the Arctic Circle, and conditions in the northern part of the country are incredibly harsh. Verkhoyansk, Russia is the coldest inhabited city in the world. In winter, temperatures drop to below 60 degrees F. The Siberian region of Russia has one of the harshest climates on the planet. Because of the way currents travel around the world, the weather in Siberia directly affects the weather in the United States. It’s called the “refrigerator for the Northern Hemisphere,” because the amount of snow cover in Siberia helps to create snow in the United States. Conditions in Siberia are so harsh that getting lost here, even for a brief period of time, can be fatal.
11. The Crimean Conflict
This 2014 picture shows the worst of the Crimean Conflict, which still has not ended. Citizens of Ukraine flooded government areas after the President of the country made the controversial decision to back out of a deal that would strengthen ties between Ukraine and Europe. The Crimean peninsula is part of the Ukraine, but it is where Russia keeps its Black Sea naval fleet. There is still open fighting from anti-government opposition forces in the Ukraine, and the country is not at all at peace. Ukraine is split between two factions: those who favor alliance with Russia and those who favor alliance with Europe.
10. Fake News
Russia has been known for a healthy propaganda program dating to WWII. Journalists and intelligence agents in the U.S. have uncovered evidence of Russian propagandists using fake news to sway the 2016 Presidential election in the United States. Twitter bots were used to spread fake stories with fake headlines and misinformation. The aim of these articles, at this time, was to discredit Hillary Clinton and influence American voters. However, the outcome of said election proves that Russia’s modern propaganda machine is still working. Though Russia has been using fake news like this for at least three years, recent events show that their efforts have increased and their ability to influence the U.S. is frankly startling. Misinformation is a dangerous tool that has been wielded by many, including Adolph Hitler, in an attempt to control the world.
Russia has a disproportionately high number of white supremacists, as compared to other places around the world. Neo-nazi and skinhead groups have large numbers of supporters here, and they are incredibly dangers. These groups are responsible for hate-motivated murders and violent crimes throughout Russia. Attacks on people of African, Asian and Middle Eastern descent on the public streets of Russia are not uncommon. Anti-Semitism is also strong in Russia, and it is especially dangerous to be out and about in Russia around the time of Hitler’s birthday on April 20. This horrifying image was taken in Moscow in 2013, after a soccer match.
The horrible Chernobyl disaster occurred more than 30 years ago now, but there are still lingering dangers to Russia and the rest of the world here. There is still a huge exclusion zone all around the site where Russia’s nuclear reactor melted down. Wildlife is beginning to return to the region, but the radiation risks in the area are still being studied. The concrete sarcophagus erected by Soviet authorities is deteriorating, and the radioactive material trapped inside still poses a threat to the environment. A New Safe Confinement for the radiation has been under construction since 2010. To this day, the area all around Chernobyl looks like an apocalyptic wasteland.
This image was taken in the North Caucasus region of Russia, which in many ways is an open warzone. Terrorism is a regular occurrence in North Caucasus, and travel here is incredibly dangerous. Visitors and journalists who travel here face being kidnapped for ransom. Two police officers were recently attacked and killed here, and there is very little law and order in this region of Russia at present. ISIS insurgents have claimed several of the fatal, violent attacks taking place here. Terrorism is at very high levels in this part of Russia, and the ISIS presence here makes it dangerous for everyone.
Russia has severe pollution problems. This photo is of Dzerzhinsk, Russia, and it’s one of the most polluted places on the planet. Much of the pollution in Dzerzhinsk is left over from chemical weapons manufacturing that occurred during the Cold War era. There are many highly polluted places in Russia that were destroyed by Cold War weapons-making, but Dzerzhinsk has been the most affected. Some of the most dangerous toxins in existence were dumped here for decades, from 1930 to 1998. There are currently 300,000 people being affected by this pollution in Dzerzhinsk. In 2003, Guinness declared this to be the most chemically polluted city on the face of the Earth.
Russia is one of the most dangerous places to drive in the world. Compared to the United States, Russia has pretty lenient driving and driving safety laws. This is the Kuandinsky Bridge, known to be one of the most dangerous bridges in the world. It’s near Russia’s Trans-Baikal region, and it allows cars to cross the Vitim River. The bridge is only 6 feet wide, and it looks like this. Every so often, cars fall through the bridge all the way to the bottom. Citizens who use the bridge often grab a few planks and repair the bridge themselves, rather than waiting for the government to fix it. Traffic signals are merely a suggestion on some Russian roads, and border crossings between cities are especially chaotic.
4. Hate Crimes
It is unsafe to be gay and to support gay rights in Russia. Recently, Chechnya was in the news for arresting a man who was suspected of being homosexual. That man was allegedly held in a secret detention center and tortured. According to news reports, gay men have been arrested and held in detention centers throughout Chechnya. NBC reported that as many as 20 suspected homosexuals were killed after being tortured at these detention centers, where prisoners were held without food and beaten severely. Activists have been targeted by police and citizen violence, and protests have been arrested and held for days for campaigning for LGBT rights. Chechnya has said they do not detain and torture their gay citizens…because they have no gay citizens.
3. Global Warming
Many experts say that global warming is an Earth-wide danger that will affect the entire planet, but Russia is feeling some incredibly dangerous effects right now. Recently, more than 20 people became sick with Anthrax in Siberia. The bacteria was released into the air due to melting permafrost, which was caused by a heat wave that hit this region of Russia. Permafrost generally remains frozen even in the summer. Melting permafrost could potentially lead to many dangers in Siberia. Bacteria and viruses slumping in the frozen ground can become quickly fatal to humans when they are released. While heat can kill viruses, at lower temperatures they are able to thrive. Melting permafrost could potentially release bacteria that sparks an epidemic, a truly terrifying thought.
2. Freedom of Speech
People living in the United States take freedom of speech for granted. It is considered to be a very basic right, and it is given to absolutely every single person. This right doesn’t exist in Russia. The government has imprisoned citizens of Russia for speaking out and imposed strict rules to prevent media reports from even reaching the people who live here. Websites are frequently blocked and censoring is rampant. Human Rights Watch has issued statements opposing Russia’s oppression of free speech, which has been on the rise since Putin returned to the Presidency in 2012. Protesters opposing anti-free speech laws in Russia have been demonstrating by putting tape across their mouths, signifying how their rights have been taken away.
U.S. intelligence officials have stated that Russian hacking is a major threat to the United States. Officials have already stated that Russian hackers attacked the Democratic Party during the Presidential election of late 2016. Near the end of his Presidency, Barack Obama had 35 suspected Russian spies expelled from the U.S. and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies due to election hacking. The Russian hacking of the American democratic process is a terrifying reality because it undermines the basic principles of a free and fair election on which the United States was founded. In a digital age, hacking is a very real threat with global ramifications.
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