LOOK AT IT THIS WAY: IF YOU HAVE TO SWEAT OUT A COUP ATTEMPT against your government for 72 hours, there are worse places to fret than an exquisite estate in the Black Sea resort of Foros. When Kremlin hard-liners tried to oust Mikhail Gorbachev from power last August, the Soviet leader was on vacation at his seaside dacha with wife Raisa, his daughter and son-in-law and granddaughter Anastasia. After cutting all phone links to the house, the conspirators put Gorbachev under armed guard, which included dispatching several warships to patrol the coast. For the next three days the helpless Gorbachev could only contemplate his fate amid the gloomy splendor.
Ah, but what splendor. In keeping with Gorbachev’s desire to administer a dose of capitalism to the Soviet economy, the compound would be the envy of any robber baron. For security reasons little has been disclosed about the precise physical details of the hideaway. But the estate, which is called Zarya (“Dawn”), is known to include a main house done in quasi-Scandinavian style—lots of wood and glass. There is also a guest house for visiting dignitaries and friends, plus a private screening room for movies. In some respects the estate resembles an exclusive spa. In addition to a large indoor pool, the Gorbachevs can go soak in a Jacuzzi. And if Mikhail and Raisa should ever invite George and Bar down for a weekend, they could play some comradely mixed doubles on the floodlit tennis courts. Zarya may be on the Black Sea, but it offers all the comforts of Kennebunk-port, and more.