Traveling to the World Cup in Russia? Read this!
Summer is coming and one of the biggest events on the planet, the 2018 World Cup, is taking place in Russia and Lady Luck has bestowed upon you two tickets to one of the World Cup games for you and a friend to attend. You have made your travel arrangements, put in your leave request, and are ready to go! However, if you are a security clearance holder, there are two more things to do before you head to the airport.
First is to contact your security manager and report the fact that you are heading to Russia and provide the details of your trip itinerary and who you are going with. Second, contact your counterintelligence shop (if you have one) to set up an in-depth country brief. The dangers for the average citizen are very real, and even more so for someone with a security clearance. The key to avoiding any trouble is to keep a low profile, be situationally aware at all times, and bring only the minimum amount of personal items and electronics needed to get there and back.
The Department of State Travel Advisory on Russia lists areas that you should definitely stay away from, as well as good travel tips and crime information to be on the lookout for. The “official” Russia 2018 World Cup site for fans also provides a lot of good information about getting around and specific event information. Be assured that criminals, scam artists, and those with even more nefarious intentions will be on the prowl looking for opportunities to exploit. The “honey pot” trick is alive and well in Russia and history has shown it works.
Electronic monitoring and smartphone hacking is a very real threat, as well. Instead of bringing your personal phone, consider getting a cheap prepaid phone once you get there if you really need one, and take pictures with a real camera instead a phone. I am sure you can wait the few days or a week to get back and post the amazing shots on your social media platforms. Avoid bringing a computer, the chances of it getting hacked or getting malware or a virus when using a hotel Wi-Fi is virtually 100%.
And as far as who is going to win the World Cup? Most would probably say Brazil or perhaps current cup holders Germany. Many wouldn’t count out Spain. For my own personal preference, I think it is the last chance for “the Albiceleste” led by the great Messi, and so the Argentines are my hope to win. But I also like the Belgians as a “Dark Horse”. Get ready to see a lot of “the beautiful game” starting in June.
Even simpler, I’d merely suggest that holders of clearances simply refrain from making any non-official travel there.