Health and emergency
In the 1990s Donetsk was regarded by many international media and travel guides as a criminal city. The truth of the statement has been largely blackened by journalists and questioned by city insiders. Donetsk is a fairly peaceful city free of many crimes and threats common for other tourist destinations. Still, it is always good to be armed with practical knowledge and handy tips.
Ukraine has inherited a free public health system from the USSR times. Proud though it might sound, but the quality of state medical facilities remains poor and the free treatment has been a myth. Even if taken to hospital without a charge, you are normally expected to pay for medicines and provide some incentives to doctors and paramedics.
Donetsk has a number of private hospitals that offer a better standard of care. But they are not the first choice for emergency doctors unless you can provide an insurance policy.
Therefore, a comprehensive travel insurance covering as many forms of medical treatment as possible is the best choice.
Traditional travel vaccinations are advisable but not mandatory.
Chernobyl disaster placed Ukraine on the global map of man-made catastrophes. However, the risk of radioactive contamination is insignificant today outside the zone immediately around the blast site. Donetsk is located far away from Chernobyl, so no special precautions are necessary.
Some tips to stay well in Ukraine: drink only boiled or bottled water, don’t buy food from old ladies in streets and always check shelf life of the stuff you buy in minor shops.
Donetsk has been largely free from xenophobes or racists. Violent crimes on foreigners are very unlikely unless you behave improperly or provoke a fight. It is not a good idea either to walk alone in remote and unlighted districts.
Beware of accepting drinks in bars from casual acquaintances. It might be hard to get away from their “hospitality”, and the attempt to dodge the next drink can be regarded as an insult. The same goes for talks in streets.
As in many other cities, foreigners are a lucrative target for petty criminals. International visitors are believed to carry big amounts of money or valuables. For this reason, stay on alert in public transport or places, as pickpocketing may be a threat. Precaution advice is simple: keep valuables and cash out of sight or in inner pockets, keep credit cards separately and don't carry anything valuable in easily opened bags.
For ID purposes you are advised to carry a photocopy of your passport and keep the original in a safe place.
In an emergency, dial one of the following numbers:
101 – fire crew – (Rus. - pozharnaya)
102 – police (Rus. - militsiya)
103 – ambulance (Rus. – skoraya pomoshch)
It is always good to have a phone number of an English-speaking local, as neither emergency officers nor passers-by would probably understand English.