Peter sichel

CIA spies lose faith

With its grim John le Carré atmosphere, communist Eastern Europe in the late 1980s was a melancholy, out-at-elbow place. The Estonian capital of Tallinn crawled with Russian money-changers (‘Comrade, we do deal?’). The television in my hotel room was detuned from capitalist Finnish to Soviet channels, but I was able to pick up Miami Vice from across the Gulf of Finland. Guests were not allowed to visit the 21st floor, which officially did not exist. The KGB apparently had an office up there where they monitored Helsinki radio waves and the hotel’s 60-odd bugged rooms. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the wallet-thin Minox camera had been invented in Tallinn