Tourists pay 120 LTL (€34.75) each to step back into 1984 as a temporary USSR citizen for 2.5 hours. On entry, all belongings, including money, cameras and phones, are handed over and under the watchful eye of guards and alsatians, tourists change into threadbare Soviet coats and are herded through the bunker.
Experiences include watching TV programs from 1984, wearing gas masks, learning the Soviet anthem under duress, eating typical Soviet food (with genuine Soviet tableware) and even undergoing a concentration-camp-style interrogation and medical check.
Most of the ‘actors’ are ex-Soviet soldiers, although the bunker is designed for school groups so it’s not as bad as it could be. But still, would you pay for the experience?
The pay-as-you-go phones are popular with criminals and terrorists because their anonymity shields their activities from the authorities. But they are also used by thousands of law-abiding citizens who wish to communicate in private.
The move aims to close a loophole in plans being drawn up by GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre in Cheltenham, to create a huge database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain.
The “Big Brother” database would have limited value to police and MI5 if it did not store details of the ownership of more than half the mobile phones in the country.
I understand the concerns, I really do. However, I had to provide a copy of my passport when I went to buy a mobile in the UAE (and had to provide a copy or the original document for just about anything) and didn’t find it a big deal. I’m certainly someone who enjoys his privacy, so I guess I was just rolling with it. That said I’m fairly sure the UAE didn’t keep my details for use by the intelligence services.