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1980 'Classified' Soviet Taxi Map, Restricted Areas for Olympics

Схема режима разъездов иностранцев по Московской области / [Plan of the Travel Regime for Foreigners in Moscow Oblast]. - Main View

1980 'Classified' Soviet Taxi Map, Restricted Areas for Olympics


Cold War secrecy, espionage, and the Olympics.


Схема режима разъездов иностранцев по Московской области / [Plan of the Travel Regime for Foreigners in Moscow Oblast].
  1980 (undated)     22.5 x 23.75 in (57.15 x 60.325 cm)     1 : 210000


A remarkable 'classified' map illustrating the logistics surrounding the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic Games, and showcasing fear of the espionage and general secrecy that marked Cold War foreign relations. This map indicates areas of Greater Moscow (including portions of Moscow Oblast) designated as restricted to foreigners. It was almost certainly produced by the Central Taxi Control Room, which oversaw state-owned taxi companies operating in and around Moscow.
A Closer Look
The map displays Moscow Oblast, with the main part of the city at center with surrounding districts and suburbs. The 'Garden Ring Road' (Садо́вое кольцо́) is evident at center, as well as the wider automobile ring road (known by its initials MKAD) around the main part of the city, which delimited the municipality from its surrounding oblast for much of the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras. Diagonal red lines denote 'closed areas' (Закрытая зона) for foreigners. Some restricted areas have designated transit corridors, marked with red arrows, to allow drivers to traverse them when necessary, though undoubtedly, prior authorization would have been required. Others are entirely barred to foreigners under any circumstances.

Faintly visible in the top-right margin is a stamp with the words 'For Administrative Use' (Для служебного пользования), in other words, 'classified.' Nearby, the number '98' appears to represent the present example's order in the total print run, probably in the low hundreds given the nature and secrecy of the map. An explanatory note at bottom-right outlines general traffic rules and areas restricted or barred entirely to foreigners. At bottom-left, an inset map of the entire Moscow Oblast appears.
Nothing to See Here
The reasons for such intense secrecy are evident. The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and other contemporaneous events had turned up the temperature in the Cold War. Although the U.S. boycotted the Olympic Games, having so many foreigners in Moscow at one time provided an excellent opportunity for espionage. Thus, any site even remotely close to military or intelligence facilities (often located in the suburbs of Moscow) would have been strictly off-limits. The presence of police and secret services was intense, even by Soviet standards, and institutions that would interact with foreigners, like hotels, restaurants, and taxi services, were given strict instructions, as seen here.

Additionally, the games were an opportunity for the Soviets to showcase their capital city. Moscow was spruced up for months before the games, with beggars, prostitutes, dissidents, and other problematic people were shipped out of the city, which was itself hermetically sealed from the rest of the country. Banned areas therefore also included low-quality public housing projects and industrial areas, which might have given a poor impression of Moscow to foreigners.
1980 Olympic Games
Though the United States and 65 other countries boycotted the games, mostly in retaliation for the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, plenty of foreign athletes and attendees were nonetheless present in Moscow throughout the summer of 1980, some 150,000 - 200,000 visitors in all. The Soviets did not disappoint, fast-track upgrading Moscow's hotels and facilities, and organizing a spectacular opening ceremony (the first 'modern' one including an artistic program beyond the simple introduction of countries' athletes and lighting of the torch). As the first games held in Eastern Europe and the first held in a Communist country, the Soviets were keen to brandish their credentials as leaders of the Eastern Bloc and of the Socialist and Non-Aligned countries of the world.
Publication History and Census
Though no publication information is available, this map was most likely produced by the Central Taxi Control Room (центральная диспетчерская такси), no doubt with input from the security services, including the KGB. This example was distributed to the 10th Taxi Service (Десятый таксомоторный парк), which operated in Korolyov (then known as Kaliningrad, Калининград), a suburb northeast of downtown Moscow best known as the home of production facilities and the mission control center of the Soviet Space program. It is undated but likely was distributed in 1980 or perhaps 1979. No other known examples of this map exist in institutional collections or on the market.


Good. Uneven toning and creasing in margins. Areas of loss at top-right corner repaired with tissue paper on verso.