Travel Reference
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Western news organizations everything they needed—housing, office space, drivers, trans-
lators—and then proceeded to spy on them and control their movements. Agreeing to work
this way was the only way Western news outlets could do business in the Soviet Union.
Fast-forward to today, and Western news outlets like NPR can operate independently.
But partly for convenience, and partly because being fully transparent to the authorities
tends to raise less suspicion, many outlets have continued to work this way, including
NPR. The bureau chief's apartment and office are in a building owned and managed by
UPDK and very likely still bugged. (Our apartment had more “smoke detectors” hanging
from the ceiling than a firehouse.) And officially Boris and Sergei are employed by the
agency—though, to be clear, they are in their jobs because they love NPR and they are in
every way part of the fabric of our news organization. The arrangement is by NPR's choice
and—save for the bugging—is purely bureaucratic. Not once did I question Sergei's and
Boris's loyalty to me and to Rose. They became our protectors, our family, even de facto
parents, available on the phone at any hour if Rose or I had a crisis—or even just needed to
ask Sergei the Russian translation for lamb or beef while shopping at the supermarket. (We
would finally get sick of making baaa and mooo sounds at the meat counter).
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