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'Girl in a red swimsuit': the story of a waitress who swam across the bay with sharks to escape from the USSR



40 years ago, all of Australia was discussing the fate of the waitress Liliana Gasinskaya, who escaped from a Soviet ship in Sydney Bay in only one red bikini. Despite the demands of the USSR embassy to extradite her citizen, the Australian authorities provided asylum to the fugitive. Gasinskaya told them that all her life she hated communism and could no longer tolerate queues and stew, says "".

Photo: Shutterstock

Young waitress on a large ship

In December 1979, the fate of a fugitive from the Soviet Union was being decided in Australia. 19-year-old Liliana Gasinskaya sailed to distant shores in a memorable swimsuit and begged for political asylum. The Soviet embassy, ​​in turn, demanded the immediate extradition of its citizen. The Australian authorities racked their brains over what to do - to deport the violator of the border or still save her from the "bloody regime".

The story of a native of Alchevsk is both comic and dramatic. Growing up in a normal Soviet family, she was obsessed with the dream of going abroad from childhood. Gasinskaya attended English lessons with only one purpose: once to apply it not in a school office, completing an assignment from a textbook, but in a conversation with a real foreigner. Today it would not be difficult for her to realize her venture. But in the USSR, distant countries remained a privilege for a narrow category of lucky people. The Ukrainian schoolgirl was not among them.

At some point, an escape plan came to her mind. Carrying it, Gasinskaya, after the eighth grade, left for Odessa, where she entered a vocational school as a junior specialist in the passenger fleet. A rather attractive appearance allowed her a little later to get a job as a waitress on the cruise liner "Leonid Sobinov". It was a huge motor ship, built in 1954 in the UK and originally operated transatlantic flights on the route Liverpool - Montreal.

For 19 years of operation, the vessel has worn out and is outdated according to British parameters.

In 1973, it was sold to the USSR, and already there it was renamed in honor of the great opera singer. The ship served until the mid-1990s. And in January 1979 he got into all the world's newspapers. It was from the deck of "Leonid Sobinov" that the waitress Gasinskaya, who became famous as a girl in a red bikini, began her swim in the capitalist paradise. In addition to this outfit, she did not take anything into a new life.

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In the footsteps of Chaliapin and Kurilov

Outstanding and not so people fled from the USSR throughout the entire period of the existence of this state. The 1920s were remembered as the era of the mastodons: opera singer Fyodor Chaliapin, chess player Alexander Alekhin and others became defectors. In the 1930s, it was mainly secret service workers who fled.

The 1970s from the 1980s were the era of ballet dancers, athletes and artists. Some were in real danger at home, while others were simply eager for a better lot. Oceanologist Stanislav Kurilov's 100-kilometer swim from a Soviet liner to the Philippine coast looked like a social protest. He was not allowed to travel abroad, but dreamed of exploring the depths of the oceans. Young Gasinskaya, of course, did not think about science, just as she was infinitely far from politics. She assured that she swam across the bay with sharks so that she would no longer see queues and stew. Although such a girl is hard to imagine plying grocery stores.

In early 1979, Gasinskaya traveled to a capitalist country for the first time in her life. Rather, it worked. Delivering food and drinks to tourists. The first attempt to escape was made while staying at Fremantle. At the last moment, the suspiciously fussing waitress was noticed by one of the security officers attached to the crew.

Gasinskaya had to hide in fear of being exposed.

One day, "Leonid Sobinov" embarked on the roadstead in the port of Sydney. Gasinskaya immediately realized that right now she had a chance to change her future. There was a lot of fun aboard, a common sight on such flights. Like Kurilov before her, Gasinskaya fled at night. Leaving the sideboard, she deftly climbed through the porthole and jumped into the water. A 40-minute swim along Sydney Bay to the satellite city of Pyrmont is, of course, incomparable with Kurilov's almost three-day marathon. However, for a fragile girl, he also meant mortal danger. Moreover, during the jump, she injured her ankle and swam her kilometer with something through severe pain.

"Only cocktails, beach and freedom"

Gasinskaya carried out her plans at the right time. Already at the end of the year, the Australian government banned Soviet vessels from approaching its shores in protest against the outbreak of the war in Afghanistan. The fugitive wandered for a long time along the deserted beach. Her heart was pounding, her leg ached, her teeth trembled from the cold. She didn't really understand what to do next. Fortunately for Gasinskaya, a local resident, Billy Green, soon showed up, walking the dog. As a respectable citizen, he hurried to the rescue of a chilled beauty in a red bikini. To his genuine surprise, the “vacationer” was not local. Her body was covered with bruises and bruises. Gasinskaya explained to Green in her mediocre English that she had escaped from a Soviet liner and wanted to seek political asylum.

"I need to go to the police, they are chasing me!" She said.

Pretty soon the waitress was courted by tabloid reporters. In exchange for an exclusive interview and a photo in a red bikini, she was warmed and fed. In the meantime, the employee of the buffet was missed at "Leonid Sobinov". The search began, the KGB officers on the ship found out about the state of emergency. When the truth was revealed, a big scandal erupted.

“I put on a red bikini and left a ring on my finger. I knew it was useless to take something with me, otherwise I would be caught. I climbed onto the bed, squeezed through the porthole and jumped into the water. I just mentally counted the meters covered and thought that soon the shore would start another life. No queues and canned meat, just cocktails, beach and freedom, ”said a Soviet citizen.

The next morning, the Daily Mirror tabloid came out with a screaming "hat": "Pretty woman runs from the" red "liner."

Subsequently, it was rumored that the girl probably swam in an ordinary swimsuit, and the red bikini was invented and untwisted by the feather sharks.

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An affair with a photographer as a guarantee of success

Gasinskaya admitted to reporters that she had been thinking about escaping since the age of 14, and chose Australia from the pictures in the magazine. In an interview, the refugee convincingly spoke about her hatred of communism, "built on lies and propaganda." It was necessary to swim across the Sydney Bay to become an actress and enter a model school - this is how Gasinskaya explained her motivation.

Soon, the sympathies of society, thanks to the newspapermen, were on her side. However, earning the trust of the authorities proved to be more difficult. The waitress was unable to explain the reasons for the "persecution" at home. In general, the legend of escaping because of politics has failed miserably. Nevertheless, it was decided to leave Gasinskaya in Australia.

Last but not least, the events in Afghanistan convinced the country's authorities of the need for such a decision.

In the very first weeks Gasinskaya started an affair with the Daily Mirror photographer Graham Fletcher, who hid her from Soviet diplomats in his house. For the sake of a young Ukrainian woman, a man left his wife and three children. They were married. With the help of a photographer, Gasinskaya got a job as a disco dancer. A cheerful life began, in which there was enough of everyone. To some extent, she fulfilled her dream by starring in TV series. However, the career of the actress did not work out. Instead, Gasinskaya was shot nude for glossy magazines for substantial fees. One of the photo sessions came out under the heading "Girl in a bikini without a bikini".

“In Russia, we don't do anything sexy,” Gasinskaya admitted in an interview, causing laughter and bewilderment.

The marriage with Fletcher broke up pretty soon. The cheerful guy was replaced by the multimillionaire Ian Hayson, whom Gasinskaya jumped out to marry in 1984. After about six years, they broke up. In the overseas epic of a refugee who turned into a respectable owner of an Australian passport, there were many more men. Now she is a mother of many children, lives in London and avoids publicity.

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