RUSSIA: MOSCOW'S INTOURIST HOTEL WELL KNOWN FOR 30 YEARS AS A HOTBED OF SPYING AND DECADENCE CLOSES DOWN
- Title: RUSSIA: MOSCOW'S INTOURIST HOTEL WELL KNOWN FOR 30 YEARS AS A HOTBED OF SPYING AND DECADENCE CLOSES DOWN
- Date: 8th January 2002
- Summary: (U6) MOSCOW, RUSSIA (JANUARY 8, 2002) (REUTERS) PAN DOWN/MVCU: EXTERIOR OF INTOURIST HOTEL, ENTRANCE, NAMEPLATE (3 SHOTS) WS/SV: EMPTY HOTEL RECEPTION DESK (2 SHOTS) CU: TELEPHONE VARIOUS OF EMPTY HOTEL ROOMS (3 SHOTS) SCU: (SOUNDBITE) (English) KONSTANTIN PREOBREZHENSKY, FORMER KGB AGENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: "All of the staff in this hotel in the 1970s were agents or civilian collaborators. There were some KGB staff officers of course, but all the waiters and all the cloak-room girls, everybody were agents. That's why they never smiled. Foreigners asked me at the time, I was a student then, why they didn't smile. I couldn't tell them the reason at the time, but the reason was because they were agents. They spied not only on foreigners but on each other. So, if an agent smiles, that means that he is not a serious agent. That is why the waiters in the restaurant here served the meals in such a serious manner. They were not just giving you a meal, but spying on you at the same time. This could only happen in the Soviet Union."
- Reuters ID: LVACBF5LMCFA6SN1684YGR45DL4B
- Location: MOSCOW, RUSSIA
- Country: Russia
- Duration: 00:01:39
- Topics: Industry
- Story Text: Moscow's Intourist Hotel -- a hotbed for 30 years of spying and decadence -- has closed down, marking the end of an era.
Moscow city authorities have announced that they will scrap the 22-storey metal and concrete monstrosity which overlooks the Kremlin.
The registration desk is taking no reservations anymore and the last guests have been turned out of their rooms.
Now, the Intourist is part of history, set to go down in the books as one of the main crossroads of the Cold War--where Soviet agents mingled with Western capitalists.
The Intourist's hard currency stores, its lively bars and its flock of dollar-prostitutes made the hotel a sampling of the West carefully contained in the heart of the Communist empire and off-limits to most Soviet citizens.
Former KGB agent Konstantin Preobrezhensky describes the Intourist as a place where nobody smiled and where spies spied on spies.
The 434-room Intourist Hotel opened in 1970 as the last building in a series of chrome skyscrapers in Moscow's centre.
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev ordered the buildings after seeing the Manhattan skyline.
But architectural critics say that the Intourist never had the same appeal as the New York landmarks.
In fact, it was derided as Moscow's "Rotten Tooth" and an eyesore in the nation's capital.
Moscow authorities hope to build a new luxury hotel on the site of the Intourist, though no plans have been released to the public.
Once the spot to keep an eye on the West, the hotel's breathtaking view now makes it one of the nation's most desirable post-Cold War construction sites.
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