Bernie’s Mystery Soviet Tapes Revealed

Earlier this year, two minutes of the long-lost videos went viral when a staffer at Chittenden County’s Channel 17 posted a compilation of the station’s archival footage online. The clip featured a shirtless Sanders and other Americans singing “This Land Is Your Land” to their hosts after relaxing in a sauna. A few minutes later, Sanders doled out the gifts to his Russian friends with a towel wrapped around his waist. . .

But that’s only the beginning. The hours of footage include a scene of Sanders sitting with his delegation at a table under a portrait of Vladimir Lenin. Sanders can also be heard extolling the virtues of Soviet life and culture, even as he acknowledges some of their shortcomings. There are flashes of humor, too, such as his host warning the American guests not to cross the KGB, or else. . .

Over the course of 10 days, Sanders, who was then the mayor of Burlington, and his dozen-member delegation traveled to three cities: Moscow, Yaroslavl and Leningrad, now known as St. Petersburg. Their goal was to establish a “sister city” relationship with Yaroslavl, a community along the Volga River home to about 500,000 people. At the time, the Soviet Union was beginning to open itself to the world, if only slightly — and Sanders was a self-described socialist with an unusually large interest in foreign affairs for a mayor. . .

For now, many of the videos will remain available for viewing only in CCTV’s archives. POLITICO learned about the tapes after reporting on a TV show Sanders created while mayor called “Bernie Speaks With the Community.” The government-access channel is not planning to put the raw tapes documenting the Soviet Union trip online because they never aired, said executive director Lauren-Glenn Davitian. However, she does intend to post the lost episode of Sanders’ TV show online soon. (Read more from “Bernie’s Mystery Soviet Tapes Revealed” HERE)

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