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  • Author: Mark L. Asquino
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Almost fifty years have passed since the terrible day in 1971 when one State Department officer brutally killed another in the tiny, African country of Equatorial Guinea. What took place there is a lurid story of sex, madness and murder that almost every foreign service officer has heard about at one time or another. In many ways it’s the State Department’s version of the 1984 classic film, “Nightmare on Elm Street.” However, the murder in Equatorial Guinea is a real-life tale of horror that continues to intrigue foreign service officers. Here are the basic facts of what happened.
  • Topic: Cold War, Crime, Diplomacy, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, North America, United States of America, Equatorial Guinea
  • Author: Peter Bridges
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Putin’s recent expulsion of hundreds of our colleagues serving at our embassy and consulates in Russia reminded me of my own service in Moscow in the 1960s. You may call this ancient history, though it doesn’t seem so ancient to me. Stalin had been in his grave for a decade, and dear Nikita Khrushchev was now in charge. Under Stalin, two and a half million people had been prisoners in the deadly Gulag camps. Thousands of poor haggard people had been released, and some of the system’s more notable deceased victims were even “posthumously rehabilitated.” The Gulag had officially been closed down in 1960—but an estimated three-quarters of a million inhabitants of the USSR were still in the horrid camps. And nothing had been done to lessen the role of the KGB, at least so far as we could see.
  • Topic: Cold War, Diplomacy, Economy, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Russia, Soviet Union, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Norma Brown
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: It was early-1980s Leningrad, as St. Petersburg was known under communism, practically on the doorstep of the collapse of the Soviet Union, but so deep in the slough of communism that nobody would have considered it possible that a monumental change was in the offing. Bustling Moscow, where my then-future husband was serving at the same time, had a reasonable KGB to foreigner ratio. In the backwater of the one-time capital of the Russian Empire, the ratio was out of sight, more than 10-1. Still, it didn’t matter if you had five KGB thugs in black leather jackets dogging your footsteps or fifty. They always got what they wanted in the Soviet Union.
  • Topic: Communism, Diplomacy, Courts, Surveillance, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Russia, Soviet Union
  • Author: June Kunsman
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Consular officers at posts abroad face a range of difficult duties including informing relatives of a death abroad, counseling and helping victims of crime (do NOT go into Moscow’s underground street crossings late at night), visiting citizens arrested and jailed, refusing visas and dealing with the angry losing parent in a child custody fight. Still, we get a generous share of delightful duties like issuing passports and certificates of birth abroad, issuing adoption visas that give a child a route out of an orphanage to a family in the United States and informing an individual of an unknown claim to American citizenship.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Immigration, Citizenship, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States of America
  • Author: Peter Bridges
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Back in the late 1950s, when Stalin was not long gone and the Soviet state remained our militarily powerful and dangerous adversary, the State Department’s basic office for dealing with the Russians was a Soviet desk composed of just four members of the Foreign Service and four from the Civil Service, the latter including an archivist and two stenographers. There were of course other Washington offices that had to do with the USSR, in State as well as in CIA, Commerce, the FBI, the Pentagon, and USIA; but we were the primary interface wth the two embassies, the Soviet in Washington and ours in Moscow. Shortly before Christmas in 1957 I became the junior Foreign Service officer on the Soviet desk, after completing the then three-month orientation course for new FSOs at the Department’s Foreign Service Institute.
  • Topic: Cold War, Diplomacy, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Russia, Soviet Union, United States of America