Wednesday, 7 April 2004

Untold Stories of the Cold War #349

From the Sydney Morning Herald :
When Vladimir Petrov, a Russian intelligence officer, walked out of the Soviet embassy and defected to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in April 1954, Dick Woolcott and Bill Morrison were very junior diplomats in our embassy in Moscow. Woolcott was 26 and Morrison 25. Moscow was their first posting. They held the rank of third secretaries and in the foreign service you don't get any lower.
Woolcott would later write: "When the first classified cable came in from Canberra [to the Australian embassy in Moscow] foreshadowing the Petrovs' defection, Morrison and I decoded it with the old time-consuming 'one time pad' system. As we laboriously worked our way through and the gist of the message became clear, I said: 'One of us will be out of here in a fortnight. The Russians will reciprocate. They always do.' "

Morrison disagreed. "If we're expelled, I'll drop my daks in Red Square," he said. "You're on," said Woolcott.

Woolcott was right. Within days the Soviet government gave the entire Australian mission of three diplomats, an administrative officer and their wives 48 hours to leave the country, though they were then held virtual hostage for three weeks until all members of the Soviet embassy in Canberra and their dependants had boarded a ship at Fremantle to return home.

However, before the Australian diplomats eventually were allowed to leave Moscow by train, Morrison honoured his boast. He had a taxi take him to Red Square and while, apparently, guards began running towards them, he dropped his trousers and "mooned" the Kremlin before jumping back into the cab and roaring away, his driver having already been given a huge tip.

Morrison ever after was known among colleagues as a man who had trouble with his trousers.
I thought that was a reasonable response to being given the Bum's Rush....

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