Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, YEREVAN

In the 1970s, the Soviet diplomats were courting the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who reminded of a tragicomic hero whose actions always culminated in terrorism, human deaths, and international scandals.

The Soviet Foreign Ministry’s African Department kept receiving reports about this exotic politician, who was often the subject of humor. However, what the department’s head, Aleksei Shvedov, told during a meeting in January 1978 was beyond anyone’s imagination.
It turned out that he had been called to the Sheremetyevo International Airport at night. He was met by Gromyko’s first deputy Vasili Kuznetsov with his assistants, State Security Committee workers, and Defense Ministry representatives. Kuznetsov was told that a certain Boing 707 had crossed the national border an hour ago.

In response to inquiries, someone from the airplane had explained that "Colonel Gaddafi was coming to pay a visit to his brother Brezhnev.” Luckily, the plane was not intercepted by the anti-air defense, as it would happen a few years later with the South Korean passenger jet, which was shot down by Soviet jet fighters and everyone on board was killed.

In short, Gaddafi had decided to make a surprise visit without bothering to tell anyone about it. Soon the plane lands, they drive up a mobile stairway, the door opens, and a Libyan officer asks in perfect Russian whether "brother Brezhnev is here to meet his brother.”

They reply from the ground that the Soviet authorities will receive Gaddafi in the morning and they invite him to a state mansion to rest.
The officer disappears, the door closes. Everyone on the ground waits. Then suddenly, breaking all the rules of security, the engines are turned on. They quickly remove the mobile stairway and the people on the ground who had come to meet Gaddafi barely escape from underneath the moving plane. The plane heads to the runway and takes off.

Shvedov, who had started telling the story with a straight face, was laughing in the end along with all those who were present at the meeting.

The authorities in the Kremlin were angry, however they took a different measure to resolve the situation. They invited Gaddafi for an official visit to the Soviet Union.

The African Department had no hopes that Gaddafi, offended by his "brother Brezhnev,” would come to Moscow. But Shvedov, who was a good diplomat (all Soviet diplomats would sign under this statement), was able to organize the visit after a year since the incident. In Moscow, Gaddafi refuses to leave his room on the first day, blaming the unfavorable alignment of the stars. The next day, instead of visiting the Defense Ministry, he expresses a wish to be present at a Muslim funeral.

Shvedov turns to the Chekists half-serious, half-jokingly: "Don’t kill anyone, but try to find a Muslim who hasn’t been buried yet.” In a few hours they are able to locate a poor family of Moscow Tatars whose relative, visiting them from Kazan, had died suddenly. To the delight of the Tartar family, the state organizes a lavish funeral for the relative using the reserve funds of the Council of Ministers. But Gaddafi suddenly stops the ceremony, declaring that they are ruining the ritual. Being inventive, Shvedov suggests that Gaddafi should lead the ceremony himself. Gaddafi agrees with pleasure.
2701 reads | 16.03.2014

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