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In the early 1990’s I was tasked by British Coal with organising the recruitment for the imminently opening North Selby Mine.

We preferred experienced transferees from closing mines, either locally or from further afield, like South Wales; but we also took on “Green Labour”.

I recall one occasion when I received a bunch of application forms which included two from Russia.  Bear in mind that the break-up of the Communist Eastern Bloc was underway by then but by no means completed.

What caught my eye about the Russian applications were the entries in the Employment History section.  Both were soldiers and both stated quite plainly that they were attached to a chemical weapons facility – dates, locations, the lot.

Now quite possibly Glasnost had extended to the former USSR (or CIS as it was then) and there was no issue in disclosing this.  But I doubt it.

Perhaps it was a cunning ploy to pass military disinformation to the West, hoping a minor British Coal apparatchik like myself would pass it up the beanstalk, from whence it would get to Special Branch and thence…Who knows? Hopefully wrong-footing the West’s military focus.

They were to be royally thwarted.  They seriously underestimated the doziness of British Coal apparatchiks (ie moi) who simply filed it in the bottom drawer.

It is, indeed, the Little People who win wars.




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John Coopey

Tue 18th May 2021 15:13

Many of us who were around then, MC, will recall the iconic images of the emigrating Trabants.
And thanks for the Likes, Stephen and Holden. Stephen G. and Aisha.

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 18th May 2021 13:04

JC - I see the Berlin Wall as a representation of the division
you mention in both the physical and mental sense, a sign of the
severely limited lives under communism against the free-wheeling availability under capitalism.

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John Coopey

Tue 18th May 2021 07:46

For our generation, MC, there was the misconception that world politics was based on the division of the ideologies of communism and capitalism. The continuing role of Russia as a pariah despite the fall of communism in the USSR and Eastern Europe shows that this was never the case. It simply camouflaged the eternal existence of power politics.
And thanks for the Like, Aviva.

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M.C. Newberry

Mon 17th May 2021 22:25

They should have employed you on prison security if the escape by
George Blake was any guide to the efficiency of the system in protecting us here. My abiding memory of Russia (in the mid-1970s)
was the armed (Kalishnikov machine gun) guard who boarded our Intourist bus in Leningrad and proceeded to strip a hapless passenger's camera of any snaps taken of that huge security risk - the Summer Palace of the Tsars (re-built from a ruin in stupendous fashion after WW2 by the Russian proletariat).

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