Anya Schmemann: Life Under the KGB's Watchful Eye in 1980s RussiaRoundup: Talking About History
tags: Russia, Soviet Union, KGB, Anya Schmemann, Council on Foreign Relations
Last week, Russia expelled an American diplomat, accusing him of being a spy for the CIA. Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said that U.S. Embassy Third Secretary Ryan Fogle had been caught red-handed with disguises, spy equipment, and wads of cash, trying to recruit a Russian agent.
The episode -- complete with cheap looking wigs, fake glasses, a compass, a street map, and a laughable "Dear Friend" letter -- seemed straight out of the Cold War.
For me, it caused a wave of nostalgia and catapulted me back to the 1980s when I was an expat child in Soviet Russia.
Our family moved to Moscow in 1980, at the height of the Cold War, when President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev faced off across a great iron divide. My father was an American reporter, a fluent Russian speaker, the son of a Russian Orthodox priest, and the grandson of White Russian refugees, and he was instantly considered highly suspicious.
We were constantly watched. A small Lada would follow our car around the city and a man in a dark suit would keep an eye on us as we walked about. Our phones were tapped, our apartment bugged, our mail opened, and we assumed that our government-provided housekeeper filed frequent reports on us. Even our dog was enlisted -- when we took him for walks he would run happily to our mortified minder, seeking the treats he was obviously used to getting....
comments powered by Disqus
- The Fake News Pioneer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
- Presidential Inauguration History: From Grand to Fatal to Downright Awkward
- Nazi Doctor Mengele Now Himself Object of Medical Study
- Critics Attacked, History Revised as China Nationalism Rises
- Unpopular out of the gate, Trump making history one more time
- Kevin Starr, California’s premier historian and USC professor, dies at 76
- Secret WWI telegram holds lessons for today, historians say
- Antisemite, Holocaust denier … yet David Irving claims fresh support
- Timothy Garton Ash says liberalism failed in 2016 because it had succeeded
- Tim Naftali calls on Obama to declassify US intelligence community's assessment of Russian intentions and activities in the 2016 presidential election