Report   DETAILS


Ukraine 2017 Crime & Safety Report

Europe > Ukraine; Europe > Ukraine > Kyiv

Overall Crime and Safety Situation


U.S. Embassy Kyiv does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.


THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED KYIV AS BEING A HIGH
-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.


Please review OSAC’s
Ukraine-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.


Crime Threats


Although thousands of U.S. citizens visit Ukraine each year without incident, the country crime rating remains high.


In Kyiv, authorities reported more than a 15% increase in crime in 2016 over 2015 statistics. The number of property crimes (theft, burglaries, armed assaults, fraud) constituted more than half of all criminal offenses reported. Notably, according to government statistics, there were five times as many registered assault cases in 2016 than 2015. Registered assault cases throughout Ukraine more than doubled during the same period.  


The most common types of non-violent property crime affecting the expatriate community include pickpocketing, theft from parked vehicles, street scams, and residential burglaries. Residential burglaries are typically committed by forced entry when the occupant is not at home, or they occur as crimes of opportunity when doors are left unlocked.


Reports of drugging of drinks on trains continued in 2016, with the majority of victims claiming to lose consciousness and being robbed while unconscious. Discussions with medical personnel suggest that this activity is more common on overnight trains.


There is particular need to pay close attention to one’s surroundings and belongings while in crowded public places, walking on crowded streets and through underground malls/crossovers, and while using public transportation.


"The Wallet Scam" remains a common confidence scam used by criminals to victimize foreigners. In many cases, these incidents occur at locations frequented by foreigners (high-end and Western hotels, Saint Sophia’s Cathedral, Saint Michael’s Cathedral, the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, Andriyivskyi Uzviz). In 2015, the Embassy received several reports of the wallet scam occurring outside shopping malls including Gulliver, Ocean Plaza, and the Cosmopolit Mall and at large event venues (Palats Sportu, Olympiski Stadium). There are many variations to this scam, but all involve an attempt to get the victim to pick up an item containing currency. The typical scam involves a suspect who seemingly inadvertently drops a wallet or a plastic bag in front of a potential victim. The suspect asks the victim if the wallet/bag belongs to him/her. Or, the victim picks the wallet/bag up and returns it the person who dropped it. The suspect tries to get the victim to handle the money in the wallet/bag or will handle/count the currency himself. The suspect then states that money is missing and loudly/aggressively (but not violently) accuses the victim of stealing the money. The suspect will threaten to call the police to panic the victim. Then an accomplice interjects by introducing himself as a police officer and flashes identification to the victim. The police officer will ask the victim to produce his or her wallet to ensure the victim did not take the money. The officer will then count the money in front of the victim. Victims often hand over their wallets without hesitation to the police officer. When the wallet is produced, the criminal(s) may grab it and flee, or more often, steal a large portion of the victim’s money by sleight of hand. If presented with this or any variant, do not pick up the wallet/bag, walk away, and do not engage the perpetrators in conversation. Foreigners are more likely to be confronted with this confidence scam since they do not know local laws. American citizens are heavily targeted.


Marriage and dating scams via the Internet are routinely reported. There have been numerous instances of U.S. citizens being extorted for thousands of dollars by Internet contacts they thought were friends, loved ones, or romantic interests. These Internet scams include lotteries, on-line dating/introduction services, and requests from a “friend” in trouble.


Due in part to the ongoing conflict in the east, illegal weapons-related crimes continued to increase in 2016. 


Identity theft involving ATMs and credit cards is prevalent and continues to be a concern, occurring on a regular basis. 


Cybersecurity Issues


Cybercrime activity affecting services within Ukraine remains a major concern for U.S. government and Ukrainian authorities. In recent years, U.S. law enforcement pursued a number of joint cybercrime/identity theft investigations with Ukrainian law enforcement authorities. The Embassy strongly recommends utilizing a Virtual Privacy Network (VPN) for personal internet usage.


Ukrainian government officials, private sector experts, and journalists report that Ukraine experiences several hundred to several thousand cyberattacks against government ministries and information portals each month. These have included run-of-the-mill denial-of-service attacks, which prevent users from connecting to a site or server for a limited period, to attacks that defaced publicly-accessible information and service portals—often with a political message.


Other Areas of Concern


The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the eastern regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, and the Crimean peninsula. Russian-backed separatists continue to control areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. These groups have established illegal checkpoints and have threatened, detained, or kidnapped individuals, including U.S. citizens, for hours or days. Travelers to, in, near, or through these areas are subject to threats of mines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO), as well as sniper and other small arms fire exchanges. As the situation is constantly changing, American citizens traveling to Ukraine should read the most recent
Travel Warning for Ukraine.


Travel is restricted and controlled for a 30-kilometer radius surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.


Transportation-Safety Situation


Road Safety and Road Conditions


Vehicles are left-side drive and drive on the right side of the road (as in the U.S.). Traffic in Kyiv is heavy on weekdays during commuting hours, and travel in the city during workdays is often delayed due to heavy, unexpected (and often, inexplicable) traffic patterns. Main thoroughfares are usually well-illuminated and maintained, but side streets and less commonly used avenues in/outside of Kyiv are often poorly illuminated, narrow, and poorly maintained. Driving can be a challenge to foreigners. Local drivers routinely disregard traffic laws (excessive speeding, driving the wrong way on one-way streets, driving in oncoming lanes to maneuver around blocked traffic, driving on sidewalks). Using sidewalks for parking is an accepted practice, and pedestrians, especially those with small children, should exercise caution. Cars also routinely drive on sidewalks, especially in central Kyiv, moving to/from sidewalk parking, much of it illegal. Drivers should also be alert for pedestrians, who often cross busy streets where they can and without hesitation. Drivers should be prepared to stop on short notice and drive defensively.


Most highways and roads in smaller towns are not illuminated, and emergency services are not reliable or prompt. Therefore, driving outside of major cities during hours of darkness should be undertaken with caution. Snow removal can be haphazard, especially along secondary roads, and the subsequent snowfall and ice build-up can cause considerable traffic delays and parking problems.


Due to heavy traffic and local driving habits, vehicle accidents are common. Motorists involved in accidents are not permitted to move the vehicles unless they present a clear safety concern. Fender benders routinely tie up traffic. Police must be notified and will come to conduct an investigation. Be prepared to wait until the police arrive and complete their report. Although the introduction of the Patrol Police has reduced response time, traffic issues and limited resources outside of major cities continue to delay the arrival of police and ambulances. When police arrive, they will ascertain responsibility, take drivers' personal information, and file an accident report.


Public Transportation Conditions


Ukraine has an extensive train, bus, subway, and airport transportation system. Some of the larger cities also have above-ground trolleys and small shuttle buses (marshrutkas
). Buses and trolleys in Kyiv break down on a regular basis, often causing delays in commuting, but are generally considered safe to use. When riding public transportation, keep purses, shoulder bags, and backpacks closed, in front of you, or tucked under your arm to prevent theft.


Aviation/Airport Conditions


In 2013, The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that Ukraine complies with the international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).


A restricted air space zone exists over Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. On July 17, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines civilian aircraft was shot down in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists, killing 297 people.


Terrorism Threat


THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED KYIV AS BEING A MEDIUM
-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.


Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns


Bomb threats to government buildings, metro stations, shopping malls, and train stations are received on an almost daily basis throughout the country. While Ukrainian authorities continue to respond appropriately to all threats, the vast majority were hoaxes. 


There continue to be acts of low-level terrorism targeting Ukrainian government establishments that have primarily resulted in property damage. Seizures of caches of weapons are common, and intermittent reports of individual use of grenades and similar ordnance to settle disputes underscores the availability of weapons.


The response to these threats by the Ukrainian security services has been deliberate, coordinated, and increasingly pro-active. 


In the early morning of July 20, 2016, a prominent journalist was assassinated by a car bomb in downtown Kyiv. Investigated extensively, there have been no arrests in the case. 


Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence


THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED KYIV AS BEING A HIGH
-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.


Civil Unrest


From November 2013 to February 2014, Ukraine witnessed civil unrest in almost every major city during the EuroMaidan protests (the Revolution of Dignity). What began as peaceful pro-EU demonstrations, culminated in the deaths of more than 100 unarmed protestors on February 20 and the flight of the then President on February 22. (For more detail, please see 2014 Ukraine Crime and Safety Report
here.)


In March 2014, Russian forces illegally invaded the Crimean peninsula and continue to occupy Crimea in support of the Russian Federation’s claim of Crimean annexation. The U.S. and Ukraine do not recognize this annexation.


In early April 2014, pro-Russian separatists occupied government buildings in the eastern Oblasts of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv. While pro-Russian separatists were expelled from Kharkiv, the situation in Donetsk and Luhansk deteriorated into a war between the Ukrainian military and the Russian-backed separatists. Multiple ceasefires and diplomatic negotiations, most prominently the Minsk Agreements, have not brought about peace, and armed conflict occurs on a daily basis.


Since the fall of the former government, demonstrations, marches, and commemorations continue to occur regularly throughout the center of Kyiv. These events are mostly peaceful, and most are aimed at persuading the current government to continue with reform efforts or pursuing charges of crimes against humanity against former government members during the Revolution.

·         One demonstration held outside the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) in August 2015 escalated when a participant threw an explosive device at National Guardsmen, killing four. 


In general, it is advisable to avoid large demonstrations and crowds, even peaceful ones, as they may become violent without warning and may attract petty criminals and hooligans. However, if attending such events, it is always best to remain on the perimeter of crowds and identify easy exit routes should problems occur. 


Religious/Ethnic Violence


There have been reports of religious and ethnic violence being carried out by individuals affiliated with hate groups. Crimes directed against non-Slavic and religious minorities do occur.


Post-specific Concerns


Environmental Hazards


Flooding has occurred in western Ukraine, particularly in the Carpathian Mountains during the spring thaw. The last major flood reported was in 2010.


Critical Infrastructure


In 1986, the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (unit no. 4), located 90 kilometers northwest of Kyiv, experienced an explosion and fire, followed by an uncontrolled release of radiation. The accident resulted in the largest, short-term, accidental release of radioactive materials in the atmosphere ever recorded. The highest areas of radioactive ground contamination occurred within 30 kilometers of the station. A favorable wind direction kept most of the contamination away from Kyiv, although the capital city was not spared completely. The Plant's last operating reactor closed on December 15, 2000. The Embassy maintains a close cooperative relationship with authorities responsible for monitoring the radiological and operational conditions at nuclear facilities.


Gas is an area of concern due to increased tension with Russia. The government is working long-term to increase energy efficiency and diversify its gas purchases away from Russia.


Shortage of fuel and insufficient electricity remain a concern into 2017.


Economic Concerns


There is a lack of intellectual property rights protection that is evident in the very weak enforcement efforts, the continued use of unlicensed (pirated) software within the government and private sectors, the widespread sale of counterfeit retail merchandise, the transshipment of counterfeit goods, the rampant Internet piracy, and the overabundance of rogue music royalty collection societies (collecting royalties without distributing any of the royalties to legitimate rights holders). In 2015, the U.S. government moved Ukraine from the Special 301 “Priority Foreign Country” designation to the “Priority Watch List” in response to the reform-minded government efforts. However, the government has made no tangible progress in addressing IPR concerns.


Personal Identity Concerns


While most foreigners do not encounter problems with violent crime, there is potential for racially-motivated attacks. Victims have reported verbal harassment, discrimination, and physical assaults. All foreigners – even those who are not racial minorities – should be aware of this situation and exercise an appropriate level of caution. Slow response to hate crimes is a continuing concern, although senior government officials have publicly deplored these hate crimes.


There were a few incidents involving threats or attacks on members of Ukraine’s LGBTQI community, including an organized protest against an LGBTQI gathering in Lviv that turned violent.


Police Response


In general, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies do not meet U.S./Western European standards, and their ability to adequately investigate criminal incidents is still evolving. While significant progress has been made in the form of the Patrol Police in Kyiv and several major cities, response time remains below Western standards, and case resolution fell dramatically. 


Individuals are required to carry personal identification documents, and local law enforcement may stop people on the street to conduct identification checks. No probable cause is required. Therefore, the Embassy recommends that visitors carry passports.


Crime Victim Assistance


Fire emergency tel: 101

Police emergency tel: 102

Ambulance/emergency medical services tel: 103

These numbers can be used in Kyiv and in major cities; however, there may not be an English-speaking operator.


Corruption remains a persistent concern in Ukraine (Transparency International’s 2016 corruption perceptions index lists Ukraine tied with Russia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, and Iran at 131 out of 176 surveyed countries). Law enforcement agencies have been viewed as part of the problem rather than a part of the solution, but there has been progress in reforms and the establishment of the ‘New Police,’ and the new government has made fighting corruption a priority. Despite efforts to promote knowledge of English, police units rarely possess English-language capability, even among officials working in units designated to combat crimes against foreign nationals. As a result, reporting a crime to the police is often a difficult and lengthy process. Subsequent follow-up to determine the status of a case often requires lengthy visits to police stations.


The Embassy recommends that Americans report crimes to the police and to the Embassy. In the event that police do not accept a crime report, the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section’s American Citizen Services can forward the complaint to the police. Reporting a crime is also advisable even if time has elapsed since the crime occurred, as criminals often repeat the same crime within the same general locale. Finally, a police report also is strongly recommended when an American passport has been lost or stolen.


If you are an American citizen in need of emergency assistance, please call U.S. Embassy Kyiv at +38-044-521-5566 during regular business hours or +38-044-521-5000 after hours.


Police/Security Agencies


The National Police under the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) is the civilian police agency. 


The SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) is the main government security agency dealing with counterintelligence issues and combating terrorism.


The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (SBGS) controls borders and points of entry.  


Medical Emergencies


Medical facilities do not meet Western standards. Travelers with pre-existing conditions should carefully consider whether adequate care would be available during a trip to Ukraine. Travelers who have chronic medical conditions that require medication should bring enough medicine since medicine may not be readily available in-country. Furthermore, narcotic pain relievers may not be imported into Ukraine even in small quantities and with a prescription. For more information, please refer to OSAC’s Report, “
Traveling with Medications.”


Contact Information for Available Medical Services


Minor Emergencies & Routine Care in Kyiv

Boris (http://www.boris.com.ua/)

Address: Prospect Mykoly Bazhana 12a (12а, проспект Миколи Бажана), Kyiv

http://www.boris.kiev.ua/kontakti

E-mail: Med_Boris@ukr.net

24-HOUR PHONE: 238-0000

Medicom (http://www.medikom.kiev.ua/)

Address: 8, Kondratyka Street, Kyiv

http://medikom.ua/

24-HOUR PHONE: 503-7777

Major Trauma/Emergency

Main Military Clinical Hospital of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

24 hours a day

Address: 18 Gospitalnaya Street, Kyiv

24 hour phone: 269-7095

National Emergency and Trauma Hospital

24 hours a day

Address: 3 Bratislavskaya street

24 hour Information Service: 518-5111

24 hour Admittance department: 518-0629

24 hour Multi-Trauma department: 518-7259

24 hour Hospital Resuscitation/Intensive Care Department: 518-7020

For Cardiovascular events

Kyiv Heart Institute

http://www.heart.kiev.ua/?lang=en

E-mail: info@heart.kiev.ua

5a Bratislavska St., Kyiv, 02660

Consultation-diagnostic department hours

Mon-Fri, 0800 – 1600

To schedule a visit (for adults) from 0800 to 1530 by phone numbers: +380 (44) 291-61-31 or +380 (44) 513-24-46 or +380 (50) 746 74 47 or +380 (97) 746 74 47


In order to be admitted to one of the private hospitals a call to the hospital must be made in advance.


Available Air Ambulance Services


SOS: 007-495-937-6477 (24/7 phone) -Moscow

TRICARE/SOS (for U.S. military): 00 44-20-8762-8133 (24/7 phone) -London

EURO FLITE: 00 358-20-510-1900 (24/7 phone) -Finland

MEDEX Assistance Corporation: 00 410-453-6330 (24/7 phone) -US


There are several European firms that provide private jet evacuations, and the AMC and Boris Clinic in Kyiv can organize and assist with evacuation for a fee. Aero medical evacuation companies that service Ukraine include: SOS, EURO FLITE, MEDEX Assistance Corporation, and TRICARE/SOS (for military personnel). Boris Clinic has a limited agreement with Tricare. Contact information for additional insurance and medevac companies can be found on the
Embassy's Consular website.


Insurance Guidance


We encourage Americans to purchase traveler's insurance before arriving and to familiarize themselves with the conditions of their existing medical coverage and medical resources in Ukraine or they should have access to substantial lines of credit to cover the cost of medical evacuation. The fastest way to secure Western medical care remains medical evacuation to Western Europe. This is a very expensive option, and assistance may not arrive until several hours after the need for care arises.  

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance


The government has a service to control fresh foods and meats, but it is difficult to confirm its effectiveness. Wild berries, wild fowl and game, and mushrooms should be avoided if originating from areas surrounding Chernobyl, as these have been found to retain higher than average levels of radiation. Radiation background levels vary in different areas depending on natural/geological conditions, industrial development levels, and specific industries. In Ukraine, the allowable limit for the background radiation is 25 microrems per hour. Since 1987, levels exceeding that figure have not been observed in Kyiv, and the average and constant numbers for Kyiv are 12-14 microrems/hour. Daily readings on the background radiation are posted on the
Ministry of Emergencies website.


Tap water is not potable. It is safe for bathing and cooking in large cities.


The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for
Ukraine.


OSAC Country Council Information


The Kyiv Country Council currently meets four times a year and has approximately 50 members. Please contact OSAC’s
Europe team with any questions or to join.  


U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information


Embassy Address and Hours of Operation


U.S. Embassy Kyiv

4 Aircraft Designer Igor Sikorsky Street, Kyiv, Ukraine 04112

Вул. Авіаконструктора Ігоря Сікорського, 4, Київ, Україна 04112

Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri, 0830-1730


Embassy Contact Numbers


Country Code: 380

Kyiv City Code: 44

Telephone: (38-044) 521-5000

Dialing instructions:

From another country: +38-044-521-5000

From within Ukraine: 044-521-5000

U.S. Consular Section: (38-044) 521-5460, fax (38-044) 521-5425

American Citizen Services: (38-044) 521-5566, fax (38-044) 521-5544

Regional Security Office: (38-044) 521-5515

Embassy Kyiv Website: http://kyiv.usembassy.gov


Embassy Guidance


The Embassy strongly recommends that all Americans visiting or residing in Ukraine register with the U.S. Consulate in Kyiv. Registration will permit the Consulate to contact American citizens quickly in the event of an in-country emergency. On-line registration is available at on the
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) website.


Additional Resources


Ukraine
Country Information Sheet