So what if they went without vodka and Russian folk dancing, Thursday marked an anniversary just the same for about 30 Soviet inspectors charged with keeping an eye on the Hercules aerospace plant.
"For us, the best way to celebrate the anniversary is just talking to our American friends," Vadim Nikitan told members of the Provo-Orem Chamber of Commerce gathered Thursday at Utah Valley Community College.Nikitan, joined by two colleagues, was referring to the year-old Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty. As part of the INF treaty, Americans are performing similar inspection duties in the Soviet Union city of Votkinsk.
Valentin Zabrovsky, speaking through an interpreter, called the INF treaty an important historical agreement not only for the United States and Soviet Union but the world as a whole. He said initial doubts about how well the treaty would be implemented vanished soon after inspection work began last summer.
To date, 30 percent of the missiles covered by the treaty have been destroyed - a total of 1,269.
Questioned about changes in Soviet society, Zabrovsky said most Soviets welcome changes that have occurred under Mikhail Gorbachev, although glasnost is not without its detractors.
"In the final analysis, those giving sharp criticisms will help find solutions . . . to the problems we still face in our country," he said.
Nikitan said the Soviet Union's "difficult economic and social situation" paved way for needed changes.
"The time was right," he said. "We were waiting for those reforms, I would say."
The Soviets, who were friendly and seemed to answer questions frankly, said they appreciate the warm welcome Utahns have given them. Though not going so far as to call Utah a pretty, great state, they said they enjoy the mountains and canyons they've been permitted to see.
A limited 50-kilometer travel radius allowed the inspectors as far as Orem on Thursday, but kept them out of Provo. Chamber President Steve Densley, nevertheless, presented them with a video on Provo and Cougar football T-shirts compliments of Coach Lavell Edwards.
"I can say I could easily do without this inspection. Nobody likes 25-mile zones," Nikitan said.
He said he hopes inspections won't be needed in the future and that some day he can return "as a tourist and as a friend."
Both Nikitan and Zabrovsky spoke against the Berlin Wall, agreeing with President Bush that the wall should come down.
"I personally don't like walls," Ni-kitan said. "I personally like his (Bush's) words about this Berlin Wall. I think we should destroy this wall as soon as possible."