Crimerate in Ukraine
You shouldn’t be afraid of coming to Ukraine after listening to all the stories about high level of crimes. The level of crimes in Ukraine isn’t much higher than in other countries. You should always be careful and not come in touch with suspicious people, and you’re going to be just fine.
The foreign visitors who come to Ukraine very seldom have criminal problems. Western mass media often name Ukraine among the countries with high level of criminal cases. But frankly speaking the number is much augmented. As a matter of fact you have much more chances to be robbed in the center of Paris than in Kiev center.
The criminal cases that you can get into in Ukraine are swindles, and pilfering. Here is an example of such cases: you saw a wallet on the street and a man comes up to you saying that you must have dropped it. If you pick it up the other man comes up to you right away saying that this is his wallet and there is much money in there. While you are trying to explain the situation (that you have just picked it up and it was already empty) they start threating you with police and pressuring you so that you paid them with your own money.
Conclusion: don’t pick up anything on the street, and if you happen to be in such situation – throw it away and leave. If they talk to you speak only your native language (not Russian) and try to say the word Police as often as possible. You may pretend to call the embassy or the police. But the most important thing is that you have to leave fast and don’t negotiate with them. The swindlers usually work in pairs and as soon as they understand that you won’t give them your money easily they will leave you alone.
Sometimes in big cities like Kiev or Odessa some policemen can blackmail you. For example: the policemen can come up to you on the street and ask for your passport and then ask for some other documents (visa, custom declaration, registration). Then they will tell you that your documents are not correct and if you don’t pay the fine they will take you to the police department. In this case you must speak only your native language, you can even agree to go to their police department, tell them that you will call the embassy to ask them what to do in this situation. Any Ukrainian policeman knows that his actions are illegal so he will not insist on it any more.
My friend from England had the same situation – the police asked him for 50$, they were threating to take him to the police station. He refused to pay them, he said that he will complain about this as all his documents were correct, he was also saying all this in English (which the policemen didn’t understand). Soon after they let him go when understood that he won’t give him any money. In any situation you should be confident and calm.