When I was growing up® there was an old joke (which I may have told here before, but I only remember about three of these so I have to recycle): An American is walking around in Moscow and falls into an unmarked open manhole. He screams: “I can’t believe some idiot left a manhole open here without any warnings! Where were the cones, tape, warning red flags?”
An old Russian passer-by says “When you were crossing the border did you see a giant red flag?”
“Yes” -American replies,
“That was your warning!” (I need to brush up on my dialogue punctuation, but you get the idea)
Few Americans who comment here have actually been to Russia and they will confirm that being a foreigner there is like running a plow through a minefield, you never know when it’s gonna blow, but you are pretty sure it will, sooner or later. The only protection is your wallet but you can’t just go around openly paying people off, it’s an art. Apparently at there are enough foreigners who have not mastered the art of bribery to have a special international prison described by one unfortunate victim in his book Zone 22 ( I am pretty sure the same book is published in the US as Tomorrow You Go Home: One Man’s Harrowing Imprisonment in a Modern-Day Russian Gulag)
I haven’t read the book yet, I am waiting for my turn at the library, but there are plenty of blurbs around to suggest that if you don’t know what you are doing you may come back from Russia with a couple of prison tattoos instead of Matryoshkas for your girlfriend.
If I like the book I may review it in a few weeks.