Rapid changes in the history of the Soviet Union in the ’80s had a radical impact on the LOMO PLC factories in St Petersburg, and of course, with the production of the LOMO LC-A. The 27th Communist Party Congress which took place in Moscow may have been the last but it was made more memorable with the help of the LOMO LC-A camera.
A little later in 1985, after the introduction of the Lomo Kompakt Automat, Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union. Exactly like the LOMO LC-A the small man would accomplish a lot and heralded his reforms “Perestroika” (economic restructuring) and “Glasnost” (political openness) shortly after his promotion to Secretary General of the Communist Party.
As you can read in more detail in the chapter on the LOMO PLC factory (see page 511), this rapid change in the history of the Soviet Union had a radical impact on our St Petersburg factories and also on the production of the LOMO LC-A. Nevertheless, from the 25th of February to the 6th of March 1986 the 27th Communist Party Congress took place in Moscow. The chairman was of course Mikhail Gorbachev, who at that time still dreamed of his reforms and hadn’t yet communicated anything of his plans to the public. Thus it was to be the last Communist Party Congress to enjoy such strong solidarity and the cosy Soviet idyll – for the subsequent and last party round took place in 1990 as the union had already separated into individual States and the Berlin Wall had long since fallen.
In order to celebrate the occasion of the 27th Congress in a befitting manner the Moscow mandarins came up with something rather special: “This time we will really surprise our valued comrades and instead of serving Vodka and Borscht we will serve up the small LOMO LC-A camera.” said the senior delegate full of imagination. “Who knows how long our wonderful union has left? Better to give a camera to each of the 5,000 participants of the Congress so that the cultured and intelligent members can go back to their hometowns and speak profusely about it and replicate our native land in all its glory!” so sang – as at least it is to be imagined – the highest party organs in chorus. Immediately the order was sent to LOMO PLC. 5,000 cameras were to be quickly produced and be promptly delivered to Moscow. In addition, the party organs ordered 50 KAMAS trucks, to be presented to the Kremlin Wall and also sent an order to the “BEBELJA” leather factory. High quality zipped leather cases were to be specially manufactured for the delivered LOMO LC-A’s. In February, only a few days before the Congress, 5,000 Lomo Kompakt Automat cameras were placed in the finest leather. These were put out with a special inscription, a red sticker with the emblem “produced for the delegates of the 27th Party Congress” on the top right hand side of the camera. The Chairman of the Central Committee set about putting the leather case on one of them.
“Damn it, how does this thing come undone?” he asked just as the zip abruptly came undone and the pointed end brutally pricked his finger. “Ouch!” Furious, the proud delegate ordered LOMO PLC Director General Panfilov and the Director of BEBELJA to come to Moscow and to arrange that the defective zip be adapted that very night in order to protect the valued party members from similar attacks. Both directors initiated the necessary steps and the 27th Party Congress was successful with many thousands of snapshots most probably including some of the Congress chairman Mikhail Gorbachev himself.
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