Russian visas aren’t the easiest to get, although if you have money it’s a bit easier.
If you are cycling get in touch with the Russian Cycling Federation and you should be able to get a business visa valid for 6 months.
If all you want to do is cycle through the Altai then you will only need the standard 30 day tourist visa.
You must specify the date of entry on your application.
Russian Visas for Cyclists
Cyclists puzzle Russian embassies because they often don’t have hotel bookings, return flights, train tickets etc. These are all the things that you are meant to have. In the Altai this is impossible as there are very few hotels.
Just persevere and explain what you are trying to do, tell them that you are cycling and be prepared to spend a lot of time waiting. If you wait long enough they will probably just give you what seems like a random price for the visa and issue it there and then. It is better if you have onward visas and visas for the other countries on your route. We had to write down our whole route to get our visa.
Your alternative is to fake all the documents, or make bookings as though you are a standard tourist and then cancel everything. There are agencies such as Way to Russia that can help you make bookings and issue you with documents.
Read the Thorn Tree for ideas and other travellers reports.
Remember to register your visa within 3 days of entry. Failure to do this will result in a large random fine -$200-$500. You can do this in Kosh Agach near Mongolia (only hotels can do this) or in Rubsovtsk if you enter from Kazakhstan. You only officially need to register once but if you stay in a hotel collect the registration document to be safe.
The government hotel in Rubsovtsk doesn’t want foreigners to stay, so unless things change you may need to go and try and register yourself – we have no experience of this.
For accommodation in Rubsovtsk you need to find a helpful person to look up a rental flat in the newspaper. These are cheap and readily available.
Entry and Exit
Tashanta is the border post to Mongolia and you cannot ride your bike across the border area. You must pay for transport. Even bribes won’t help. This is easy to sort out in Tashanta. The border is open irregular hours and if the Mongol Rally is coming through the hours suddenly reduce. It is always closed at weekends.
Rubsovtsk is the nearest border post to Kazakhstan and is open for regular business hours.