Robert Amsterdam’s story of escaping Russia under duress with the help of his travel agent is featured in the latest edition of Travel Weekly. Excerpt below:
Anticipating a high threat level while I was working in Russia on the Khodorkovsky case, Beagelman had arranged a number of key local security contacts to provide advance intelligence on any direct threats. One of these contacts delivered a coded message to him, even before the hearing concluded, indicating he had good intelligence that it was no longer safe for me to remain in Moscow. He immediately relayed the information to me.
As I left the hearing, I flagged a taxi to take me to the Domodedovo Airport, intent on getting out immediately. But within five minutes, I realized I couldn’t leave Russia, given the heroism Khodorkovsky had shown. It would be turned into propaganda that I was running out on him. I knew I had to stay. I directed the driver to turn around and return to the courtroom, not knowing what fate awaited me.
I did not have to wait very long for the inevitable. At about 2 a.m. on Sept. 24, 2005, Beagelman called to let me know that a team of 12 Russian Federal Security Service officers were on their way to my hotel room to arrest me. He advised me to throw on a bathrobe and claim I was just getting out of the shower in order to buy time.
I kept the line open with him and managed to make three critically important calls before the pounding on my door began. After delaying as long as I could, I opened the door and allowed the officers into the room. The delay clearly displeased them.