Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 04:03:26
23 September 2018

  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.

The Garage

Author: Anastasia Osipova
Translation: Paul E. Richardson
Illustrations/Images by Evgeny Sinitsyn

Nov/Dec 2016
Page 28   (10 pages)

Summary: For Soviet Man, the garage was a special place. Guys gathered here after work to discuss their most pressing problems, and maybe played a bit of chess or had a few drinks. But this is not that sort of garage. Not at all.


For Soviet Man, the garage was a special place.

Guys gathered here after work to discuss their most pressing problems and maybe play a bit of chess. Sometimes, it was also a place to tie one on.

In the Soviet era, having a personal car was a widely held dream, and a garage even more so. Those who possessed the latter were known as “the lucky ones.”

But there was one Soviet garage no ordinary citizen dared dream of visiting. It was the country’s top garage: The Kremlin’s Garage of Special Purpose (????? ??????? ??????????), abbreviated as GON. For over 95 years, GON has served the country’s leaders. If these cars could talk, what secrets they would reveal, what trips they would describe!


Red carpets, a stream of journalists, and a Kremlin orchestra. This is the 95th anniversary celebration of the Garage of Special Purpose. Its cars are far more than simple artifacts of their era. They are symbols of the pinnacles of Soviet power, embodying the finest engineering achievements of their age. For almost a century, these Pobedas, ZILs, ZISes, and Chaykas were witnesses to the most important international events, keeping those who decided the fate of the nation safe.

GON automobiles served Stalin, Molotov, and Voroshilov at the 1943 Tehran Conference, and then, in 1945, they carried Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt and Molotov around Yalta. They even saw service at the last meeting of the Big Three – Stalin, Churchill, and Truman – in Potsdam.

GON is a closed facility and the oldest division of the Federal Service for the Protection of the Russian Federation. A simple state worker cannot gain entry here, much less your average citizen. According to the May 27, 1996, Law 57-FZ, “On the State Protective Service,” GON personnel are responsible for the safe automotive transport of the Russian Federation’s President, Prime Minister, the heads of both houses of the Federation Council, and other persons requiring protection, including heads of state traveling to Russia on official and working visits. Russian heads of state also use the services of GON when traveling abroad.


One twentieth-century guest at the anniversary celebration was the Delaunay-Belleville Belvalette 24HP motorcar, taking visitors back to where it all began. GON owes its founding to the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II, who became interested in “motors” (as he called them).

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