One of the things you will be assailed with, if you tell people you are going to Russia (especially in a motorhome), is warnings about security. We were told to beware of muggers, scammers and gypsies with dozens of marauding children, of corrupt police and bent border officials. Consequently we took a number of steps to protect ourselves, including hiding cash in several places around the van, buying money-belts, having dummy wallets and purses (to hand over to muggers), dummy passports (old ones placed in covers to look new), a panic alarm and a chair leg cosh in the wardrobe!
In practice we found that we felt absolutely no fear when walking around in any of the cities we visited. Only in Moscow, near the hotel where we parked up, did there seem to be a number of characters of the ‘streetlife’ variety, drinking and being loud. But there are huge numbers of people in uniform in Russia – traffic cops, militsia, OMON security, private security, building security staff, soldiers, etc. You never seem to be far from someone in uniform so this must be quite a disincentive to muggers. We never saw any gypsies with or without kids in tow and the only scammers we saw were on the roadside – I’ll mention that later. We did come across dodgy traffic cops and bent border guards but not in Russia. More on those later.
Wild camping, wherever you do it, has an element of anxiety attached as you could be a soft target for thieves, carjackers and rapists. It does not offer the psychological comfort of being inside an organised campsite with security barriers, etc. But then neither does it have the restrictions on where exactly you park up, no limitations on orientation of your van, no serried ranks of motorhome and caravan neighbours to spoil the view – and no fees to pay. On balance, and after getting used to it and having very few difficult moments and plenty of exceptional spots, we’ve come to prefer it. And when there is no alternative, as in most of Russia and eastern Europe, it is definitely the best thing to do!