Gollar: Meanwhile, in Moscow, the situation was becoming more and more dangerous. The Maﬁa, especially the Kremlin Maﬁa, became increasingly stronger. You could buy anything on the black market, but the legitimate stores were empty. Still, people were not starving. In workplaces they would get food, a different product each time: 20 eggs, 2 kilos of ﬂour etc…. People were not allowed to travel — even inside Russia — without permission. Telephone calls were also problematic — you had to wait hours and hours to get a phone connection abroad — which was, of course, tapped.
As a tourist or businessperson, you had to pay everywhere — even in the restrooms at the hotel — with hard currency: dollars, deutschmarks, pounds sterling, etc. or in gold rubles, which was equivalent to paying in dollars. When paying in hard currency or gold ruble, everything was extremely expensive. The Eastern Bloc currencies were “soft currencies,” that is, of unreliable value, and were generally not accepted, unless you were a local. In those years, Russians could live like kings on a monthly income in rubles equivalent to $100.
We still had that very primitive office inside the Olympic Stadium — just one room, no windows, one phone line — but it was cozy. Being all together in one room – Sasson, myself, the secretary and Sasha Vainstein — enabled us to discuss everything, control everything easily, and have our meals together.