The Soviets stationed in Utah are waiting for an old man and a beautiful snow princess.
The 30 inspectors who are on permanent duty monitoring shipments from Hercules Aerospace in West Valley City this week are looking forward to a visit from Ded Moroz, or Father Frost, and Snegurochka, a beautiful snow maiden.The Soviets honor the Russian Orthodox calendar, which celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7.
The Soviets have celebrated Christmas for 1,000 years, and many of the faithful flock to the Russian Orthodox churches for Masses. But after the 1917 revolution, the primary celebration switched from Christmas to New Year's.
Jan. 1 marks the beginning of a 10-day winter celebration, including parties, presents and other festivities. It is a family holiday, although as in other countries, the young celebrate it away from home.
The yule tree, usually a fir, comes out and Ded Moroz brings presents for the children.
"We consider it like a family holiday, and all members of the family dine together at the table and wish each other everything good, everything successful in the coming year," said Vacheslav Evdokimov, chief of the Soviet inspection team stationed at Hercules Aerospace.
"It has become a tradition that the president of the Soviet states addresses the nation on the eve of the new year, about 10 minutes to midnight," he said.
"Normally we gather together at 10 p.m. and there's food and dancing and music up to the next year. And in my opinion, it's the most gay holiday of the year. It's the most anticipated holiday by the children who will receive gifts and presents from their parents."
But the New Year's festivities for the Soviets in Salt Lake likely will be much more subdued than the celebrations back home. "Work is No. 1," he said.
The inspectors spent Christmas Eve at the Cathedral of the Madeleine for the midnight Mass. No specific activities were planned for the new year, although the inspectors were working on the logistics of buying a yule tree.
The inspectors plan only to buy one tree, since it would be too expensive to supply each apartment with trees. The tree will go in the office area the Soviets have situated in the Sun Arbor apartment complex on 17th West and North Temple.
"Generally speaking, we are eager to go and meet with any American family and spend Christmas," said Evdokimov.
"Ninety percent of all the invitations which were sent to us we try to cope with them and satisfy them, and we try to attend all the invitations. But physically it's impossible to attend all of them."
In the spirit of the season, the inspectors presented Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis with a plaque of peace. And the Women Concerned about Nuclear War met the Soviets in the clubhouse of the apartment complex in which the technicians are living.
Wherever the inspectors go, they are accompanied by members of the On-Site Inspection Agency. The OSIA runs interference for the Soviets, helps arrange tours and operates on the theory of reciprocity - what the American inspectors are allowed to do in and around Votkinsk, USSR, the Soviets may do in Salt Lake City.
Yet the inspectors realize they have a broader role than just ensuring production of Pershing 2 missile motors has ceased at Hercules, in accordance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty.
"Our activity is focused on non-production of the treaty-limited items here at Hercules. But at the same time we are involved in more wide kind of things, not only the narrow control on non-production," said Evdokimov, who is making his first trip to the United States.
"We here in Utah see ourselves as ambassadors of goodwill."
During each team's three-month stay, the inspectors will meet with state and local officials, religious leaders and just plain folk to show Salt Lakers what Soviet citizens are like.
"In my point of view it is most essential that all the inspectors who will leave this country will take along with them a piece of the hospitality, attention and kindness which was shown them during our stay here and they will leave a piece of their heart here in Utah and this country and they will remember forever these people here.
"I would like to say that we want to leave good opinion about ourselves first of all, about our people, about our country and we would like to leave fruitful results of our activity here," said Evdokimov.