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'Tourist Police' Hit the Streets of Moscow to Patrol for the Holidays

The first patrol of Moscow's tourist police came in July.

Nearly 200 "tourist police" were set loose in Moscow on Tuesday to patrol pedestrian areas ahead of the New Year's holidays.

Moscow police chief Anatoly Yakunin said almost half of the new police officers spoke perfect English, a skill that will allow them to "ensure the safety [of tourists] along their patrol routes," Interfax reported.

The first patrol of Moscow's tourist police came in July, when members were mostly called upon to help foreign students find their way around the city. On Tuesday, the ranks of the fledgling department swelled with 184 new recruits charged with assisting foreign tourists during the holidays.

The measure is one of many intended to improve Moscow's reputation among tourists, who have in the past complained of a lack of English-language signs and difficulty locating cultural sites.

"You must remember your outward appearance, as you are not simply police officers, but the face of Russia," Yakunin was cited as saying on Tuesday. He urged the new recruits to "be guided by the principles of a cultured and polite attitude" when dealing with tourists.

Members of the tourist police can be distinguished by the special, bilingual badge on their uniforms.

If everything goes as planned, the city will have at least 500 English-speaking tourist police by the time of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, online news portal reported Tuesday.

Members of this special branch of the police get bonuses for their use of foreign languages on the job, according to a description of the position on the Interior Ministry's website.

Desirable language skills specified in the listing include proficiency in English, French and German.

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