October 25 2020
Appointed President of the Praesidium of the USSR at the age of 53, a position involving frequent trips abroad, Leonid Brezhnev did not disdain a luxurious lifestyle. Villas, airplanes, gold watches, dachas in the Crimea, bear hunting, deep-sea fishing. Often taking the wheel of his 1970 Dodge Charger personally, the Soviet leader only lacked a yacht...
Launched in 1975 at the Severnaya Verf (Northern Shipyard) shipyard, then specialized in the production of fast warships such as destroyers, Crimea and Caucasus were imposing twin vessels under the administrative responsibility of the coast guard.
Why twin ships? We do not know, perhaps to ensure the permanent availability of a ship in case of damage?
Don't imagine that they were patrol ships, no, but the coast guard depended on internal security, itself headed by the KGB, in charge of the security of USSR dignitaries.
With a length of 45 m for a width of 9 m, equipped with 3 decks and weighing nearly 300 tons when empty, these boats reached a maximum speed of 31 knots at full speed.
Peninsula now annexed by Russia, the Crimea has always been bathed in a pleasant climate very different from the harsh Moscow winters.
Located at the same latitude as Italy, it has always been a seaside resort area. Reserved for the nobility of the time of the Tsar, its seaside resorts and beaches were intended, under the Soviet Union, to a privileged social class of the regime: the nomenklatura.
These civil servants, all members of the Communist Party, spent happy days of rest there, far from the laborious and difficult life of the population and light years away from that of the millions of deportees to the gulag.
It is quite naturally here that the leaders of the Soviet regime would fill up with energy, taking advantage of the Black Sea and the sun. It was also here, at Yalta, that Stalin received Roosevelt and Churchill in 1944 to draw the contours of the new Europe, once Nazi Germany had been definitively defeated.
Sunshine, relaxation, beautiful, receptive and very curious young women and highly alcoholic libations were all part of the Soviet diplomatic and negotiation process, where extremely drunken banquets followed long negotiations.
President Putin himself is said to have said that there were only three valid methods of influencing a man: blackmail, death threats and vodka.
Recently, a US general, Michael Carey, director of US nuclear operations, paid the price again in 2013 during an extremely chaotic and drenched trip that led him to resign .
Brezhnev's reputation was quite terrible in this respect, he held, in the Crimea and elsewhere, interminable banquets during which shots were fired with the newest small arms in the Red Army's endowment?
It is quite naturally in the Black Sea, in Crimea that the two yachts were based. Cuban Fidel Castro, Chancellor Willy Brandt, Romanian conductor Ceausescu, Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, many high-ranking politicians were welcomed on board.
A bottle of champagne was uncorked in the dinghy before setting foot on board.
The American president himself, Richard Nixon, was received on board, in the middle of the Cold War and left with an unusual present, a 28' motorized hydrofoil, the Volga 70.
Now obsolete, Caucasus was the subject of a major refit campaign in 2013, with the aim of making it the headquarters vessel of the civil rescue services in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov on behalf of Russia.
The Crimea, his sister-ship, is registered in the Ukrainian Navy as an armed coastguard and cruises in the same waters...