Ah, the mysterious Russian cell phone soul…
Here at The Moscow Times, two questions come up with every cell phone newbie who arrives in the Russian capital from abroad. Here are the answers before you even ask then.
The first has to do with calls coming in fine but not going out. That’s because to make a call you need to dial 11 numbers, not seven: 8 — or +7 — and three-digit city code followed by the seven-digit number. Even if you have the same cell phone or city code and the number you are calling, you need to dial it: +7 495 555 4242. If it seems long — that’s why God invented speed dial.
Second problem: the Russian cell company concept of roaming. For some providers, roaming begins at the outer ring road, that is, outside the city of Moscow. Basic plans only provide for service within the city. To have broader service, you usually need to do two things: “activate” roaming within the country and internationally, and then buy a plan that allows it. Unless you are constantly traveling, it’s usually cheaper to simply buy an add-on roaming plan for the days you plan to be in, say, St. Petersburg or Yaroslavl, or for your vacation week in Thailand.