Legend confirmed. Research time: year and a half.
- Posted by rusgen
- On December 4, 2021
- 1979, communist party, Komsomolskaya Pravda, polar expedition, rgani, Soviet, USSR
I would like to share the small finding we have last week.
The task was to confirm or deny the story that while the ski expedition to the North Pole from USSR in 1979 was tracking the polar ice, there was a heated discussion in the higher places on whether they should be allowed to continue or quickly airlifted from their track.
When the question was first asked year and a half ago we went to the Russian State Archive of Newer History (a.k.a. Soviet Communist Party archive) just to find out that the 1979 materials are still secret…
COVID took its toll, everything was very slow, some talks about assisting in declassification failed…
We restarted the project with the simple idea that we need to push the bureaucracy, just to find out that while time passed the required documents of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has been declassifed (up to 1981 now, there they keep it secret for 40 years somehow)…
The quick jump to check finding aids, ordering documents, waiting for them, and then I am in the reading room looking through the microfishes with the top level party bureaucracy, which covered from military matters to issuing extra budget position to some local party committee.
Those meetings of the CPSU Secretariat were weekly, on Tuesdays. I was looking and looking and looking through those hundreds of pages, and became more and more pessimistic until I found the document.
Two weeks after the expedition of 7 brave men started from Genrietta island, the not less brave Komsomol head (Boris Pastuknov) sends the secret letter to the Communist Party headquarters (in reality to the building 200 m away), detailing the situation and asking for the permission for the expedition to continue. After another two weeks of bureaucratic deliberations the decision was made — let them continue. The team was not aware of all this and simply continued their way toward the Pole.
It was interesting to see the very subtle humor in those documents, as well as small but important bureaucratic signs of those discussions which ended when top party bosses actually manually amended the preprinted decision, but let them go anyway.
This project is over, we found whole bunch of materials about those events in two archives in Moscow, the book is being written about all that now.
We are ready to uncover another secret Party documents for your history project. Contact us if you need this service. Maybe some of your relatives’ details could be found in archives which, despite all the trends, do declassify documents sometimes…
Small technicalities. We found those documents in RGASPI fond 4, opis (inventory) 24, which covers materials up to 1981. Decision and supporting materials for them are on microfiches, like this one: