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The Police Chief of Moscow (not one smart question).

In early June of 1992, six months after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, I traveled to Moscow to help a friend open a business college there.

Along with a handful of other businessmen, I spoke to a group of about 200 Russian entrepreneurs that had gathered to participate in the inauguration of the college.

That’s probably about all the entrepreneurs there were in Russia in June of 1992.

I spoke on the importance of market research and surveys as the foundation of effective marketing and PR campaigns and how to do them. This was pretty wild stuff to people who had lived under Communism all their lives where the state owned everything. And these guys were trying to understand the concept of “free enterprise” and the long held heretical concept of making a profit.

After the seminar speeches, I was in the lobby talking with attendees and some of the presenters. A man with a Stalinesque mustache approached me. He was in civilian clothes, but it turns out he was a Lt. Colonel in the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs – the MIA.

In structure, the MIA is similar to our Department of Justice, with emphasis on the FBI (and no Bill of Rights).

The man’s name was Ivanov. He said that he had enjoyed my talk on survey techniques and thought his superior at the Ministry would find the information of interest – would I be interested in meeting his boss to discuss the market research procedures that I had talked about.

Would I be willing to meet with his boss?

I looked at my wife, who was with me on the trip. She smiled and the next morning we were standing in front of a building whose very address had struck fear in the hearts of Russians for decades – the headquarters of the often dreaded

 Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.