We personally consider it much better to leave our passports in a safe place than to routinely carry it in person and risk losing them. If you have committed an offence they will usually give you the option of going down the official route or paying a bribe and going on your way.Having said that, official guidance from both the US and British embassies states that visitors should carry their passports with them at all times and keep copies in case of loss or theft. They are notoriously corrupt, though you should only come into contact with them if you are driving. Paying the bribe is cheaper than the official fine and less hassle.
Although the police in Kiev are no angels, they don’t, unlike their counterparts in Moscow, routinely pester foreigners for documents and bribes.
We have never been stopped in the street by the police and very rarely see others being stopped and having their documents checked.
There are, however, reports of racist attacks on those of African and Middle Eastern appearance.
Under Ukrainian law you are supposed to carry your passport with you at all times.
In over 10 years of visiting and living in Kiev we have never been the victims of a street scam and have never met anybody who has actually fallen prey to such a crime.
We strongly suspect that the risk is blown out of proportion by other websites regurgitating content from elsewhere to fill their pages and appear authoritative. Supposedly the scammer walks ahead of the tourist and drops his wallet.
It is completely possible in Ukraine to bribe the police and avoid a drink driving or other serious motoring conviction.
In our personal experience we have never been asked to pay a bribe when no traffic offence has been committed.
The scams can start before the foreigner even arrives in the city.