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World Association of International Studies

PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post UN Shops: A (Closed) Shopper's Paradise
Created by John Eipper on 10/20/17 3:07 AM

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UN Shops: A (Closed) Shopper's Paradise (Boris Volodarsky, Austria, 10/20/17 3:07 am)

Our esteemed editor understood it correctly. At least in Vienna (but I am sure in Paris and in New York, too--Ángel please tell us about NY) there is a very special closed shopping haven inside the well-guarded UN headquarters that sells goods at prices about 10 times cheaper than in the city. Primarily, this concerns liquors and cigarettes, which reminds me of the old duty-free shops that do not exist anymore.

But this is not like the Soviet valyutnaya Beriozka.  John and others may not know that in the Soviet Union there were three types of Beriozkas: valyutnaya for foreign tourists, diplomaticheskaya for diplomats and chekovaya for Soviet citizens who had worked abroad earning hard currency that they had to exchange for artificial money called cheki (cheques).

Unlike the Pewex shops in Warsaw, which traded in US dollars, or Intershops in East Berlin selling goods for West German marks, or even valyutnaya Beriozkas that accepted all hard currencies as payment for the local souvenirs and some Western products like drinks, cigarettes and garments popular with the Russian hookers, chekovaya Beriozkas sold good Western clothes, household appliances and even cars against the valuta cheques. That is, if one had been working in Nigeria or Cuba as a Soviet advisor earning, say, 2,000 US dollars a month, he paid 50% to the state and back in the Soviet Union received 50% of his former salary in cheques for which he could buy Western goods or sell them at whatever rate he could. That is, for 100 cheques one could get from 100 to 500 Soviet roubles.

Thus, our UN guys decided to follow the Soviet example and established a kind of a Beriozka shop for a limited number of the UN officials where they can buy a Mercedes for 3,000 instead of 30,000, a bottle of Remy Martin XO for 10 instead of 100, and Smirnoff Red Label 1 Litre bottle for 3.00. For what they do (or do not do) every day this is probably the only consolation. And, of course, brothels. But that costs...

JE comments:  Jeez, who knew about these places? How on earth are they justified, given the healthy compensation UN officials already receive?

Does the UN need to be bankrolling diplomatic booze and smokes? I guess the answer is yes.

Oh Lord, won't you subsidize me a Mursaydeez-Benz?


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