Ambushed, handcuffed and interrogated by the KGB: Welcome to the terrifying tourist attraction that transports you back to the USSR (but you’ll have to sign a waiver first)
Being ambushed, blindfolded and interrogated isn’t exactly a normal tourist experience, but in Lithuania it is a hit with visitors.
The Eastern European country offers a chance for holidaymakers to experience what life was like under the control of the USSR – using real dogs, former KGB officers and taking place in a former Soviet bunker.
The terrifying experience starts with visitors being ‘ambushed’ by the Red Army in the middle of the forest, 25km from the capital Vilnius, before being transported down into the bunker for a three-hour Soviet experience.
Seeing red: The ‘captives’ are lined up before they are marched underground to take part in manual labour and be interrogated
Before taking part in the experience, which is called 1984: The Survival Drama, holidaymakers are asked to sign a waiver, which includes a clause stating: ‘In case of disobedience participants may receive psychological or physical punishments.’
Theatre producer Ruta Vanagaite, the woman behind the unusual tourist attraction, warns that people often faint during the interrogation and confessed she had even had to fire some of the actors – who work alongside the former KGB officers at the site – for getting too carried away with their roles.
Informed by the knowledge of former KGB officials the bunker experience recreates what it was like to be arrested by the Red Army and interrogated for information.
Giggles are not permitted and are likely to single out that person for additionally harsh treatment Over the course of three hours – which costs around £15 – the captives taken to the bunker 19ft below ground, marched through underground tunnels past barking dogs straining at their leads and forced to do manual labour. There is also a chance they will be questioned, intimidated and forced to salute the Soviet flag.
While the ‘production’ begins with captives being given a cup of ersatz coffee, popular in Soviet times and made with barley and no caffeine, they are then given a fufaika, the quilted cotton jacket worn by prisoners in the Soviet gulag.
The experience ends with the captives being told to face the wall in a cell before one is picked out for interrogation about a petty crime and promptly taken off to be ‘shot’. For those whose nerves are left shredded by the experience, tinned beef and a shot of vodka are served up after the three hours. But Ruta argues the terrifying tour is necessary. ‘My husband hates the show. He doesn’t understand why people would pay to be tortured. ‘It’s not for everyone. But these days children must learn that it’s not a laughing matter. Many do not understand what it was like.
‘By the end visitors should feel how, under a totalitarian regime, they are nothing. They should realise how much progress there’s been over the past 17 years.’