KGB: Still Watching You

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Russia  ,
Saturday, January 21, 2006

This morning we went where few have been before and survived to tell the tale; inside the secret halls of the KGB. Arriving with just a few minutes to spare not knowing what to expect, we apprehensively ventured inside the KGB Museum.

From the outside the building looks like any other giving no clue to it's dubious past. We were ushered into a large hall by an agent, a Colonel, where the lights were dimmed, past a man in uniform, his gaze like ice. The Colonel showed us upstairs then disappeared leaving the tour guide to escort us through the Museum. She began by explaining that they kept the lights off to conserve power quashing any ideas that it was for some other more sinister reason. She also made it very clear she was not part of "The System". The museum was very interesting. It covered the history of the KGB, it's leaders, terrorism and internal affairs and some of the spy toys both Russia and the west employed. It was interesting to hear that Stalin pretty much shot everyone he didn't trust or people that he felt got too much power. Three out of every ten agents were shot, normally under false allegations, at some stage. We learnt all about the role of the KGB (the initials KGB stand for Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti, which is Russian for Committee for State Security), now known as FSB (Federal Security Bureau), and walked away with a better understanding of Soviet times and the Cold War.

After the Museum we made our way to Red Square and had our first glimpses of the famous St Basil's Cathedral. As it was minus 30 degrees Celsius we quickly ducked inside the GUM State Department Store and grabbed a bite to eat while we warmed up. Once we had defrosted and could feel our toes again we wandered over to the Cathedral, checking out Lenin's Mausoleum on the way. We also checked out the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier within Alexandrovsky Gardens and were very surprised to see two brides freezing their butts off for photos in the gardens. They did not look impressed! I guess they didn't expect it to be quite so cold on their wedding day considering Russia is having it's coldest weather for 80 years. We ducked into another shopping centre to warm up again (we're learning the trick of sight see for 10 minutes then warm up before venturing out again) and then walked along the Moscow River while the sun went down so we could get some photos of St Basil's at night.
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