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Putin advance team caught passing fake $100 bill

Confederate DollarSo, Putin’s coming to visit George W Bush in Kennebunkport this weekend, and his advance guard are in town, checking out the place.

Now, Kennebunkport isn’t the most exciting place to be if you’re a Russian Secret Service agent , and, well, you know how these Russians, they like their liquor:

A Russian man attempted to pass off a phony $100 bill at the New Hampshire State Liquor store shortly before 8 p.m. Thursday, according to the store manager, who said a cashier discovered the bill was bogus.

I’d have been more convinced by this story if the man was trying to buy vodka…


  • Let’s find out more about this.

    You could be given phony currency and not know it.

    How many out there want to embarras the Russians? On the other hand, human kind have been known to attempt some not so smart pursuits.

  • I agree that this seems a little suspicious due to the choice of alcohol. I have given up on bringing fine whiskeys and scotches to Russia as presents. Most Russians simply do not like them.

    I sometimes have found that nice bottles are often re-gifted due to their dollar value and not drinking value. But it is even worse if the recipient cracks open the scotch while you are present because you must endure an evening of complaints about how vodka is better. 😉

    Cognac seems to be the only exception to the vodka rule in Russia.

  • A lot of the younger Russians are drinking drk rum these days, or at least they are in Sakhalin. One of my employees drunk two bottles of the stuff on Friday night, and was too sick to come to my wife’s birthday party last night.

  • Scotch makes a fine gift if you know that the recipient likes it. The choice of malts in Russian stores is rather limited, so such a gift would be greatly appreciated by whisky afficionados. Of course, you have some choice in so-called ‘liquor boutiques’, but their prices are forbiddenly high.

    Besides, USA is probably the best place to buy Scotch, like Japan is the best place to buy Bourbon.

    As of claims that vodka is the best — such claims nonwithstanding, on many parties with the choice between whisky and vodka, whisky goes first, between talks about what a moonshine it is.

  • I was somewhat joking that the choice of alcohol makes the story suspect. Obviously it is possible, but that does not mean that person giving the potentially counterfeit bill knew about it. However, their behavior would indicate that they might have known.

    I tend to hang out with the 30+ crowd, so it is interesting to hear that younger Russian’s tastes in alcohol may be changing. Do they mix rum or do shots? I find that the reason why people don’t like Scotch is that they try to drink it in shots like vodka, which is not the best way to enjoy it.

  • Tastes are changing, and it’s likely that Putin’s advance team would have at least a few (if not mostly) people under the age of 30 – advance work is typically done by the young and energetic, at least in US politics. Regarding changing tastes, the beer boom of the last 15 years in Russia, and the advent of decent Russian beer, is one element of it, although some statistics frighteningly suggest that beer has just been added to the Russian diet rather than replacing the clear stuff. A couple of years ago, I had a Russian friend in his mid-20’s specifically request a bottle of Glenfiddich (he even knew which color or variety he wanted, though I’m Scotch-illiterate so it didn’t mean anything to me) when I was on a Moscow-London-Moscow trip. And at the various parties we threw in Moscow, rum (Bacardi 8 Anos or Gold and Havana Club) was by far the most popular liquor and the first to run out, seemingly no matter how many bottles we had on hand. It was enjoyed mixed with cola or as part of a mojito (they sell big 200g packages of mint at Auchan, I think). Bourbon (with cola or otherwise) was less popular, tequila shots enjoyed by some, and as for vodka, the younger generation (at least those city-dwellers who consider themselves middle-class and rising) will certainly drink it, but I don’t think they see it as a first-choice beverage. And Mike T. is right about whisky (Scotch or Bourbon) often prompting a comment about moonshine, which of course it is.

    This is kind of a funny story (“Approximately a dozen Russian men were congregated in front of the Holiday Inn shortly after the incident Thursday night” – made me chuckle), and I hope none of the guys involved got in trouble, since it’s hard to believe they would knowingly try to pass a fake bill while on official business. It’s most likely that they got the fake bill from a shady Moscow currency exchange, although (strictly in jest) I suppose we can’t exclude the possibility that they received North Korean “superbills” in exchange for helping to route Dear Leader’s money home from Macao, or that Ramzan has fired up the Chechen rebels’ printing presses again. Andy, I trust you’ll be following this story, and we can turn to Siberian Light for updates…

  • I shall keep my beady eye out for updates, although so far nothing new has hit the newswires.

    As it’s one man’s word, against the word of an unidentified man, I expect it will remain one of those delicious rumours.

    If it really did happen, the unfortunate Russian who tried (deliberately or inadvertantly – probably the latter) to pass off the fake bill is probably trying to keep his head down, in the hope that none of his colleagues find out.

  • I’m surprised to hear that people only have found vodka popular in Russia. Every trip I’ve ever made to Russia, friends and family made requests for various other liquors. Sometimes just to try (various whiskeys and tequilas), sometimes because it is cheaper in the States (Bailey’s Irish Cream), sometimes because they just like it (Hennessy). I’ve even carried 12-packs of Sam Adams beer to Russia (was a gift for Katja’s grandfather, who faithfully drinks 1 beer each day).

    Anyway, I drive by this liquor store every day, it’s on Interstate 95 in Hampton. I mean, very literally on the interstate … it’s part of a rest area. The state liquor stores in NH are very popular with all tourists, both foreign (typically from Quebec) and domestic. NH keeps the state liquor taxes low, to entice out-of-staters to buy. These stores are rather good sized and have a large selection.

    These Russian security guards were in Katja’s store in Portsmouth on Saturday as well. I guess they were quite ruggedly good-looking fellows, and a group of women were chatting about them. Katja sort of ignored the whole thing.

  • To be honest, I’m mostly surprised that they stayed at the Holiday Inn. There are several MUCH nicer hotels in downtown Portsmouth and the region.

  • One Russian I know likes Gunnness Stout because it (in his view) resembles kvas.

    I introduced him to the Black and Tan, which mixes Guinness Stout with a sweet ale. Typically either from Bass or Harp. He liked it.

  • Russophile, I’m 30+ myself (closer to 40), and most of my friends are in their 30s and 40s. I picked up my taste for whisky from my brother-in-law, who is over 50, and was in his late 30s back then. I’ve never really liked vodka, preferring fortified wine or Armenian brandy back in the Soviet times.

    Some liquors went through ‘in vogue’ stage. 10 years ago in was gin, 5 years ago it was tequila. The craziness about them is gone, now it’s the rum time, but they stay as a part of the choice.

    Whisky, cognac and good wine go a different way. The rise of their share is slow, but steady (with the exception of 1998, of course).

    I loved Guiness, Kilkenny and Harp back when this stuff was imported. Especially Guinness that was served in the British and Irish-themed pubs, such as Rosie O’Grady, John Bull’s, Sally O’Brian, although it was expensive. Nowadays Guinness sold in Russia is made in SPb, and gives me extra stout headaches. Molly Gwynn’s, which is my favorite now, since it’s the only pub in the walking distance to my home, has even stopped serving Guinness, switching to British ales and porters.

    On a fake bill — of course it means nothing. Russian banks have their anti-counterfeit machines, but they are different from those pens. Someone could produce a bill that passed Russian tests, but failed American ones.

    Had these guys been tourists, they wouldn’t have taken much cash with them — too much bother with the customs, credit cards are a way better and safer. But, being in the security, they obviously went through diplomatic gates, and for them it’s better to take cash than to expose their financial records to American (and, worse, Russian) authorities.

    So I think it was an honest error. I doubt anybody in the FSO can be so stupid as to try passing a fake bill knowingly.

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