Friday, 23 May 2014
25 Years Ago - Socialist Property Exappropriated
I'm not sure at what point I thought it would be a good idea to smuggle goods out of the Soviet Union, but my stomach told me exactly when I realised it was a really bad idea - at the point I handed over my luggage and went through security at Leningrad's Pulkovskaya airport. Feeling sick to the pit of my stomach, I really wished that I hadn't attempted to smuggle a Soviet Army and Soviet Navy belt buckle inside a tea caddy - in a tea caddy not unlike the one I described in an earlier post: http://blog.therussiahouse.net/2013/09/krasnodarsky-chai-tea.html.
I had long wanted a Red Army belt buckle, and could have bought one from any one of the many black marketeers on the streets of Moscow and Leningrad on a number of occasions; but I had always passed up those opportunities on the basis that it was illegal to export them from the Soviet Union. I had also been told that the buckles were made from gun metal and would therefore set off the metal detectors at the airport - so you couldn't wear one as a belt and conceal the buckle with your jumper. After buying some Russian tea which came in a metal tea caddy, I hit upon the idea of emptying the tea into a plastic bag and replacing the contents of the caddy with a belt buckle - brilliant! I could now purchase my long coveted Red Army belt buckle; hell, why not go daft and get a Soviet Navy belt as well?
So, with much trepidation I queued at the check-in knowing I had foolishly stashed not one but two belt buckles in an empty tin hidden in my suitcase. It was not until the pilot announced we had left Soviet airspace did my arse stop twitching. Despite my relief the usual cheer which greeted such an announcement still pissed me off though.