To add a bit to the yarn, here is for your reading pleasure a personal recollection that is not so embarrassing as funny, in hindsight.
I was a Soviet interpreter from English for the Soviet weightlifting team at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. One day I was assigned away from the team to serve for 6 hours as a duty interpreter in the HQ of the whole Soviet national team.
When I reported there, it was buzzing with coaches, officials and whoever. But most of the crowd consisted of the KGB minders of various teams and athletes who were easily spotted by their air of self-importance (I always believed that FBI and CIA were never earning even half of their pay as I could identify KGB at once and easily). I was explained my duties, the most memorable of which was to go through the tons of personal letters addressed to Soviet athletes and to highlight those suspicious to an “official” (one of the KGB guys). To my shame, I did not find then this assignment criminal (only repulsive) because I accepted then that they were from foreign spies (so, if you think you can’t be brainwashed - think twice). Others were routine chores - call here, call there.
I was in the middle of doing my routine stuff when I noticed that the whole office became completely empty, only my KGB minder-on-duty was there. Finally, he also told me that he had to leave on assignment and that for a while I had to watch the shop on my own. This was unusual, but what can you do.
I found out later that exactly at that time they were showing the newly released erotic movie “Emmanuelle” in the Olympic Village cinema and that all KGB people rushed for a freebie.
I was in the middle of going through the athletes mail when I came across two letters to Olga Korbut… in one, an admirer whom she apparently met personally before was proposing to her and in another a Soviet emigre whom she seemingly knew was asking her out for dinner. I sensed that she could be in some trouble if she hadn’t reported these contacts previously to KGB, and I liked her a lot so I decided that I better destroy these letters. Although the office was empty, still I was a bit scared (as a person doing a crime would be) while I was tearing both letters up and flasing them down the toilet.
As soon as I exited (being still stressed) the bathroom the main phone rang. I picked it up and heard someone saying loudly and slowly: “Valery Borzov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Val… will be shot today”. “What?” - said I” “Valery Borzov will be shot today” - repeated the caller and hung up.
“What a funny sense of humour these Canadians have”, thought I and kept on hanging around the empty office for a sec. I had no instructions for such an eventuality. And I did not know that such threats should be taken seriously.
But still I had an uneasy feeling about it and decided to tell about it to a Canadian policeman who was posted nearby the office.
He started a hurricane. In a minute, there were tons of KGB guys and millions of Canadian mounties in the office and I was in the middle of the storm. The main issue with KGB was why I alerted Canadians when I had to alert them first. The answer that there was nobody of them in the office was not accepted and they were questioning me in a very unfriendly tenor (maybe because their watching of “Emmanuelle” was interrupted). The RCMPs, in their turn, were asking me whether the caller spoke with Canadian, Quebecois, Caribbean or other foreign accent to which I could not answer because my English was not good enough for that and they were perplexed why I am not able to answer simple questions.
This mayhem was lasting for about half and hour with me sweating in the middle of it when someone yelled in Russian: “Borzov is running 100 meters!”. Everybody froze. Apparently nobody thought of assigning him additional protection right away.
Borzov ran and won. He was not shot.