Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean

Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean

Oceanographer very much wanted to leave the USSR. So much so that neither the Iron Curtain, the status of the restricted, the night, nor the unfamiliar seas did not stop him.

In December 1974, sensational news hits the tapes of news agencies around the world: “Escape from the USSR. Soviet citizen rushed into the Pacific from aboard airliner". Among the details, it is indicated that the man traveled about hundreds of kilometers by swimming without food, water, or rest, and reached the Philippines. How is this possible?

Great dreamer

Stanislav Kurilov was born in Vladikavkaz (Ordzhonikidze) in 1936, spent his childhood in Semipalatinsk (Kazakhstan). Despite the fact that he spent his childhood in the mountains and steppes, he dreamed of the sea. In ten years, Stanislav swam Irtysh. After school, he tried to get a job in the Baltic Fleet by cabin boy. He wanted to become a navigator, but did not pass the medical examination - his vision let him down. After graduating from the Leningrad Meteorological Institute with a degree in oceanography, he worked at the Institute of Oceanology of the USSR Academy of Sciences in Leningrad,participated in the creation of the underwater research laboratory "Chernomor", worked as an instructor at the Institute of Marine Biology in Vladivostok.

Since his student days, Stanislav Kurilov began to actively practice yoga. He taught himself to asceticism, was engaged in a special breathing practice. Kurilov regularly slept on nails, staged himself 40-day hunger strikes, meditated. It was yoga, as Kurilov himself later told, that helped him to overcome almost 100 kilometers in the open sea.

Kurilov dreamed of working with Jacques Cousteau, the glory of which had stepped over the borders of the Iron Curtain. His activities were well known in the Union, and the Kurilov, like many Soviet scientists, admired the great French explorer of the sea.

In his field, Kurilov was a famous and prominent specialist. Working as an oceanographer, Kurilov was included in the so-called list of "restricted to leave", although he was eager to go abroad, and on occasion to stay there forever. The authorities did not release him abroad also because the sister of the scientist, Angela, married an Indian, moved to permanent residence in Canada.

In the autumn of 1974, Kurilov bought a tour of the Soviet Union motor ship.He made the cruise “From Winter to Summer”, about which Kurilov learned from the Leningrad newspaper, bought somehow on his way to work at the institute. The cruise took place on the Pacific Ocean from Vladivostok without calling at foreign ports. All 20 days of travel, Soviet tourists were aboard the ship. Thus, the tour participants did not need visas either, since, according to international rules, they did not leave the territory of their state. Therefore, Kurilov was released on a voyage, which turned into an adventurous escape from the country of the most developed socialism.

Leap into history

On December 8, 1974, the ship “Soviet Union” left the port of Vladivostok and set off to the south through the Sea of ​​Japan. It is noteworthy that Kurilov jumped overboard the vessel, which was least adapted to this. On both sides there were special tanks for leveling the ship during pitching. In addition, under the waterline of the vessel were hydrofoils one and a half meters wide. To leave the ship, just jumping from the board, it was impossible. The only option was to try to jump from the stern directly into the breaker, which leaves the propeller in the water. That is what the Kurilov did.With him he had a mask, snorkel, flippers and gloves with membranes of his own design.

Passing somehow past the captain’s cabin, Kurilov saw that the door to it was open, but there was no one inside. On the table, he noticed a map of the liner’s path with dates and coordinates. Escape plan matured instantly. He decided that it was necessary to run at that moment when the “Soviet Union” would pass by the Philippine island of Siargao and it would be 10 nautical miles from the coast (about 18.5 kilometers).

On the night of December 13th there was a small storm, but Kurilov decided: either now or never. He waited until the public dispersed to the cabins, and hid at the stern of the ship. In conditions of bad weather and rain, no one of the crew members on duty watched the surge behind the stern of the vessel.

The danger of the jump, which made Kurilov, was that it could easily tighten under the screw and in the literal sense of the word cut into pieces. But he was lucky. Emerging to the surface, he saw the receding stern lights of the “Soviet Union”. Having determined the stars of the world, he unhurried but sure strokes swam towards the Philippines.

Stanislav Kurilov:

- Just one jump separated me from this endearing beauty and freedom.But there was nothing to think about to leave the ship in front of hundreds of eyes in broad daylight — the boat would be launched instantly. Night is the time of the fugitives! At night, escapes from prisons.

His main task was to save energy and not to die from dehydration. Here Kurilov was lucky again - he did not get into a strong storm that raged several dozen kilometers from his route. Sharks, which are found in those places in a fair amount, are also not interested in the lonely Soviet oceanographer, swimming in the open sea.

Stanislav Kurilov:

- Ocean breathed like a living, dear, kind creature. It was necessary to bow his head to the water, and the view opened a fantastic phosphorescent world.

Nevertheless, in the way he was greatly carried by the current to the south, so Kurilov had to overcome a much greater distance than he had expected.

Stanislav Kurilov:

- Feet stopped obeying. The sun-burned face, neck, and chest burned hard. I was in a fever and more and more sleepy. At times I lost consciousness for a long time.

A hundred kilometers to Siargao, he sailed in less than three days. On December 15, Kurilov was picked up by local fishermen who reported him to the authorities.Kurilov was arrested on charges of illegally crossing the border. He spent almost a year in the local prison, but in a special position. Unlike other prisoners, the prison director let him go for a walk around the city, and sometimes he invited him to one of the nearby bars. About the escape reported the radio station "Voice of America". So the whole world learned about Kurilov, except for his homeland.

Traitor or lone hero?

The Soviet Union demanded that the Philippines extradite the fugitive, but the authorities of the Asian state refused to do so. During this period there was no official diplomatic relations between the countries, which were established only two years later. Despite the fact that the authoritarian Filipino leader Ferdinand Marcos was loyal to the Communist Party and the Soviet Union, at that time he was too busy fighting with oppositionists inside the country, therefore, relations with Moscow were not very disturbing, as was his anger for some fugitive oceanographer.

In the USSR, meanwhile, in respect of Stanislav Kurilov, a correspondence trial was organized, according to the results of which the most humane court in the world sentenced him to 10 years in prison for treason against his motherland.But Kurilov did not care.

Sister Kurilova, who lived in Canada, hired good lawyers for her brother who helped him obtain official refugee status. Almost immediately after this, Kurilov left the Philippines and left for Canada. There he first worked in a pizzeria, and then in organizations engaged in marine research. He searched for minerals from Hawaii, worked in the Arctic, studied the ocean at the equator. For the rest of his life, he made several expeditions, published a number of scientific studies on the oceans.

During one of the business trips to the USA, Stanislav Kurilov met with Israeli writers Alexander and Nina Voronel. They invited him to Israel, and there he met the writer Elena Genedeleva. In 1986, they were married, and Kurilov moved to Israel, where he joined the Haifa Oceanographic Institute. In the same year, the Israeli story “Escape” by Kurilov was completely published in the Israeli magazine “22”. Excerpts from the story were published in 1991 in the magazine Ogonyok and brought the author the title of laureate of the magazine's award.

Stanislav Kurilov died on January 29, 1998 while diving to the bottom of Lake Tiverdiad inIsrael Freeing together with his partner from the fishing nets the equipment installed at the bottom, Kurilov got entangled in the nets. According to different versions, he suffocated after he used all the air in the cylinders, or his heart simply could not stand it. Kurilov was buried in a small cemetery on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

In 2004, the heirs re-published the book Kurilov entitled "One in the ocean."

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  • Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean

    Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean

    Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean

    Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean

    Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean

    Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean

    Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean

    Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean

    Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean

    Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean

    Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean Stanislav Kurilov, 1980s, Mediterranean