The Sochi Olympics has shed worldwide attention on the Russian security environment. While security at the Olympic Games in always a concern, the Sochi Olympics seems to be at heightened risk. To date, most coverage of Russian security has highlighted the threat of terrorism. The media has particularly focused on the possibility that a female suicide bomber from Chechnya, known as a Black Widow, has infiltrated the Games.
While the threat of terrorism at the Sochi Olympics is real, it is not the only security concern in Russia. After the games end, many foreigners will continue to visit Russia as business travelers and tourists. Given the country’s geopolitical importance, many corporations and firms will maintain operations in the country for years to come. Even so, Russia continues to harbor many security risks that firms need to be aware of.
In response to security concerns in Russia, Incident Management Group (IMG – http://www.theimg.com/), a worldwide security solution provider, is releasing a list of 7 corporate travel security risks that firms doing business in the country should know. This article can help companies mitigate some of the risks associated with the Russian market.
The Sochi Olympics in Russia: 7 Corporate Travel Security Risks
1. Cyber Security
Organizations and individuals should be wary of Russian communication networks. According to the US State Department, there is no expectation of privacy on these networks, and individuals should avoid transmitting personal or sensitive data through Russia’s technology infrastructure. In fact, many journalists covering the Sochi Olympics have reported that their cell phones and computers have been hacked since arriving in the country. As a result, visitors to Russia should use sanitized cell phones and laptops during travel, wiping them completely after returning home.
Transparency International places Russia as 127th in the world in terms of corruption, making it significantly more corrupt than most Western nations. The bribery of public officials and law enforcement officers in Russia is a common feature of the business landscape. In some cases, police officers may extort money from businesses by demanding “protection” payments.
Coverage of the Sochi Olympics has highlighted the threat of terrorism in Russia. In late 2013, Russia experienced 3 suicide bombings. While Westerners are generally not the targets of these attacks, they could find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Furthermore, the threat of terrorism will continue to persist in Russia after the Sochi Olympics. This is primarily due to the unrest in North Caucasus region of Russia, which shows no signs of abating.
While violent crime in Russia is higher than average, it affects native Russians more than foreigners. However, international visitors are commonly the target of mugging, pick pocketing, theft, and the spiking of drinks. Luckily, most corporate travel security professionals can provide training to travelers that will mitigate the risk of these types of incidents.
5. Minority Discrimination
According to the governments of the US and UK, discrimination against minorities is a known problem in many parts of Russia. There have been reports of harassment, intimidation, and occasional acts of violence against those of African, Asian, or Jewish descent. Additionally, recent legislation in Russia makes it unadvisable for homosexuals to talk openly about their sexuality or advocate for LGBT rights. Given this environment, firms should make extra effort to prepare and safeguard workers that could be affected by such prejudice.
6. Health and Safety
Corporate travel security managers should also be aware of Russia’s health and safety risks. The CDC advises that all visitors to Russia obtain a Hepatitis A vaccine due to the country’s higher than average incidence of the disease. Travelers are also cautioned against drinking tap water as it is generally unfit for consumption. Finally, pedestrians in Russia are encouraged to be extra cautious around streets and roadways. Pedestrians make up 40% of the traffic fatalities in the country, and many drivers will not yield to pedestrians, even at crosswalks.
7. Corporate Espionage
After China, Russia is one of the most active nations in the field corporate espionage. According to the US National Counterintelligence Executive, most of this activity occurs in cyberspace, although human agents have also been used. Companies working in the fields of clean energy, medical technology, military technology, and IT are common targets and should take extra precautions against this threat.
Learn More About IMG’s Experience in Worldwide Corporate Travel Security
IMG has extensive experience in international corporate travel security and has partnered with distinguished organizations worldwide. To learn more about the full range of corporate travel security services offered by IMG, please visit:
About the IMG Group
The IMG Group is a leading firm in worldwide corporate travel security. Corporate or business organizations concerned about their need for detailed and robust corporate travel security planning can reach out to the IMG Group for assistance. The company’s expert security consultants, available worldwide, provide services such as executive, employee, VIP, and expatriate travel security, risk and threat assessments, workplace violence prevention, crisis management planning, and more.
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