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Achtung: Photo, Video Shooting Prohibited!
August 24, 2007 21:23

It is hard to imagine a traveller going to a foreign country and unwilling to capture the most exciting moments and sights during the trip. Photo and video cameras can be listed amongst the must-take things in a traveller’s bag. However, any tourist perhaps has at least once encountered a situation when they were quietly taking photographs of a nice building and at that very moment an officer in citizens` clothes emerged and politely (or less politely) asked to stop photo or video shooting, or even asked to delete the captured shots without any explanations why photography was prohibited at that place. That is why it would be useful to know the basic terms and regulations of photography and video shooting in Russia.

What tourists must know:

- Photography can be regarded as both creative work and collecting information. While it is not prohibited to create, collecting information can be lawfully banned at certain places.

- You can take a photo of any person and building, but according to the law, any person has the right to ask you not to take photographs of themselves or their property.

- If you have taken a photo of a non-strategic object, the shot becomes your property and no one can claim that you must delete it.

Airports, planes, metro

In olden times watchful citizens reported a person with a camera to the special organs, and the unlucky amateur photographer taking pictures of a car manufacturing plant producing world-famous tanks faced an “interesting” conversation at the local department of KGB. Nowadays Russian special services and police with no explanations can also prohibit taking photographs of bridges, tunnels, railway stations, airports, state establishments, and any other objects that can be regarded as strategic. A ban on taking photos exists in all Russian airports, because any of them can be considered strategic objects, especially international airports. The Administrative Code of Russia also prohibits taking photos aboard planes, although all secret objects the USSR fussed over are now available on the Internet (in shots taken from space). There is also an opinion that it is prohibited to take photos in Moscow Metro. However, since 1994 only video shooting without a prior permission of the metro administration has been prohibited in Moscow. Amateur photographers are allowed to take photos in Moscow Metro, while in St. Petersburg Metro it is officially prohibited.

Private property

It is needed to remember that in Russia there is the right for private property that implies the eligibility of the owner to use and administer the property as they see fit. This is why in some cases taking photos of private property may violate the owner’s rights, especially if the owner openly informs that photo and video shooting is prohibited. Practically, the following approach is widely spread in Russia: it is possible to take photos of private property objects from outside, if the photographer is situated not on a private territory but in a public place. Taking photos inside a private building is also allowed if the owner has not notified about the opposite – in this case the demand to stop taking photos is lawfully justified.

Sports events

According to the Russian law, photo and video shooting of sports contests and other sports events is allowed only with a permission of the event’s organizers.


Taking photographs of nature and animals is possible if the photographer’s actions do not do any harm to the photographed objects.

The table below contains more objects and information on whether it is allowed to take photos of them.

Railway stations, airports Strictly prohibited
Riverside stations and moorings Allowed to all
Shops Find out in every individual case
Casino Strictly prohibited
Metro Allowed to amateur photographers
Red Square and Kremlin Allowed to amateur photographers
City streets, parks, boulevards Allowed to all
Free standing buildings Find out in every individual case
Strangers Find out in every individual case
Museums, galleries, exhibitions Find out in every individual case
State establishments Find out in every individual case
Ostankinskaya Tower (close) Strictly prohibited
Ostankinskaya Tower (from a distance) Allowed to all
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