Across Continents

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Rock and a hard place

We met for coffee in downtown Vancouver. Our previous encounter back in one of the former Soviet Central Asian states a year or so earlier. In his nation of birth. But now a Canadian citizen. And we’d kept in touch. Able to chat freely, no need to worry about being overheard, we discussed his country he’d left at some length.

Fledgling democracy, lacking an effective opposition. The State security apparatus might have been weakened by the fall of the old Union, but it was still there, even if its focus had shifted. No longer the evils of Capitalism, instead Islam. My contact had studied abroad with others from his home nation. Only to discover that at least one must surely be an informer, reporting tittle tattle, trivia, back to his masters in the shadows.

But at least, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, he’d been able to travel abroad. For, until then, it’d almost certainly not been allowed. His family considered to be too much of a flight risk. One had been a Hero of the Soviet Union. But another had been imprisoned in a Gulag.

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