Selling Soles in the USSR

A look at Eastern reality.

Saying Nothing in Particular

In 1986, three months after the Chernobyl disaster, I sailed into Soviet waters on an oversized yacht with a group of successful though quite young stockbrokers.  At the entrance to St. Petersburg harbor, we were boarded by the harbormaster and a couple of people working for Intourist which, at that time, was the only tourist agency allowed to operate by the communist government. Their job, we soon learnt, was to interrogate any passenger whose passport raised suspicion and to determine who would be allowed to disembark.  They had almost three hours to complete their interrogations as that was how long it took to sail past the massive Soviet fleet of warships moored there.

At the mouth of the harbor we were also assigned two escorts: Cold War Era destroyers with troops standing on their decks at alert.  Some of the idiots on board our ship responded by…

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