Pyotr Patrushev: The Man Who Swam From the USSR

I recently became aware of a man named Pyotr Patrushev . His claim to fame is that he was one of the first and only people to escape the Soviet Union by swimming to freedom across the Black Sea. He was a competitive swimmer in the Soviet Union at the time. Due to what became unbearable circumstances with his situation due to choosing a different swim coach he decided he must escape. That sounds kind of petty as put like that. The problem was he switched swim coaches which pissed off his original swim coach. That coach happened to be a former associate of the infamous Lavrentiy Beria . In retribution the KGB forced him into the military and a relentless process of hazing and mistreatment began. Pyotr escaped the military and traveled down to the city of Batumi in the Republic of Georgia. That process had its own harrowing tale in a country where you needed papers to travel everywhere, especially to a big city near a border town. From there on a night with just the right sea state and weather he began a multi-day 35 km (22 mile) swim to Turkey. Instead of freedom he got arrested as a suspected KGB agent. For that he spent a couple years in Turkish prisons being interrogated. Eventually though he proved his innocence of that belief, was granted asylum in Greece, and then ultimately settled into a new life in Australia. In Australia he became a translator, author, journalist, and broadcaster which he did until his death in 2016 at the age of 73.

Four clips of interviews that were conducted with him are below. In it he discusses his entire life sin the Soviet Union, his escape, and his post-escape treatment. It is a very inspiring tale.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4