What territories are closed to foreigners – info from the horse’s mouth

kgb-still-watchingPulled up enough courage to dial the KGB Murmansk number given on top of the application to visit Sredny and Rybachy on the regional Ministry of Natural Resources site. To my surprise they picked up the phone on my first attempt and quickly referred me to another number, +7 (8152) 454108, and that number again answered, but the answer was alas that yes, a special permission is required, and the traveller has to contact KGB via one of the registered tourist organizations in the Murmansk region, NOT directly as the statement on top of the form seems to imply. They say it takes about a month to get the permit.

So we now now how to easily get a credible answer as to what is closed off to foreign travellers, and an approximate procedure, although a local company with a proven track record of arranging for these permits needs to be found and tested.

Being arrested for “no foreigner” zone tresspassing is a realistic possibility

handcuffsToday I got a call from the local court in Kandalaksha asking me to translate at a hearing dedicated to a foreign traveller caught in a no-foreigners zone.

So I thought I’d remind would-be travellers that things like arrest and other ugly consequences are possible and do happen. Unfortunately, the court’s request for a translator was cancelled so I can’t tell you details of the story. I will however share another episode, personally known to me, when an elderly couple was held and hassled for four hours for the same “offence” before being released, this time with no consequences.

Need to travel to Umba or Sredny or Rybachy? Talk to me, I’ll try to assist you in getting the permit.

A near-official list of “permits required of foreigners” locations of the Murmansk oblast

“Coastline of the Kola Peninsula 10km wide from the Cape Krestovy to River Voron’ya. The area west of the River Voron’ya limited from south and west by the Tumanny to Kola road, railroad Kola to Pechenga and line from Pechenga to Dolgaya Schel’ bay except the named populated points, auto and railroads, and the city of Murmansk that can be passed through via the railroad, automobile from Kola via the P-21 highway (Zapolarny-Kola-Murmansk highway). The area limited from the north with a straight line from Cape Veliky to the 19km sign of the regional highway from Mushukovo to Snezhnogorsk, from the west auto road Mushukovo-Snezhnogorsk and P-21 (“Kola”), from the south the northern edge of the city of Murmansk on the west coast of the Kola Bay, from the east – coast of the Kola Bay, indicated part of the auto road from Mishukovo to Snezhnogorsk to the 19km post on the road, and also the coastline of the Kola Peninsula 15km wide from Fedorovka Bay to Dolgaya Bay and the river of Dolgaya, with transit to the said stretch along the Kola-Teriberka road. Kandalaksha Bay area one kilometer wide along the coast limited by Cape Kochinny and Cape Titov in the west and Cape Nosok and Cape Sharapov in the east.”

Verbatim translation from the legal database http://base.garant.ru/104408/#friends#ixzz52ieOjGGm
(August 22 2016 edition)

I’m sure many travellers would be delighted to see that on the map. I’d greatly appreciate if someone was to put the areas on the map, clearly indicating which towns and villages fall within the “permits required” zone.


At last, here is a map of restricted areas, thanks to Erling Vaagnes or Norway. The map is for orientation purposes only, precision is by no means guaranteed. 

Visitng off-limit to foreigners and “close-to-border” areas

sredny-n-rybachy-2kildinPresently I’ve been studying rather intensely the situation with entry to restricted area for foreign travellers, namely to the Rybachy Peninsula and the island of Kil’din. As expected, encountering a bureaucratic mess. Not clear at the moment as to who is responsible for permits: FSB (a heir to KGB), or Border Patrol, or Federal Migration Services. The situation is further complicated by a very recent change of areas’ status into that of “protected territories”, which may put nature protection people in charge.

If interested in visiting these places watch for news here, under Attention foreign travellers. Updates on the subject should appear there very soon.

If per chance you know someone who recently travelled there, I’d love to speak with them.

Rumours confirmed: Umba off limits to foreign travellers

police-stateAccording to the official site of the Ter regional administration with the center in Umba, the village itself is off limit to foreigners. If you have to travel there you need to submit an application (forms available at the Migration Services, Umba Department of the Internal Affairs, ul. Dzherzhinskogo 65, tel. (81559) 5-15-79) at least 45 days before your trip, to the Federal Security Services (183752 Murmansk, ul. Lenina 64, tel. (8152) 45-40-76, murmansk@fsb.ru). The latter is supposed to send you your permits no later than 5 days before your trip.

The above info has not been confirmed via live humans, so take it with some healthy skepticism. We should be meeting people from Umba who are in the know at the Rock Flower event in Apatity on Feb. 11 and will ask for details.

Foreign traveller restrictions around Umba

Parts of the seashore around Umba are off limits to foreigners.

Official instruction for foreigners wishing to visit Umba >>

Permits can be obtained in Murmanks. I believe you can stay in Umba up to 24 hours without a permit, or need to stay away from 1km strip along the sea.

I’ll be checking and double checking the details if there is an interest in it on the part of the travelling public.


Thanks Vasya Lozhkin for once again providing a fitting illustration for my concept

Prison visits are among my services. I wish I could put a smiley here but it is getting serious. And I can’t even say “fucking serious” because “fuck” in mass media has been outlawed, and a pathetic little website like mine falls under the definitions.

Off limits to foreigners

In Karelia it is the city of Loukhi and area. One of the Moscow State University marine research stations is there, and the KGB fellow regularly come there from Poyakonda to see if there are any spies there.  For Karelia see http://www.staritsa.info/category/karelia/

In the Murmansk region some areas along the Barents Sea where the northern fleet is stationed are fully restricted. Ask for details.

Kandalaksha itself is OK to visit. There is a sign along the south edge of Kola that says “foreigners staying there for more than 24 hours must have a permit” but who cares.  Not that I openly call you to disregard the law. My style is subversion. But there is no one there to check when you enter and leave.