The CIA Even Classifies Jokes - Here Are Some That Have Been Declassified


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer


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Some declassified CIA jokes about the Soviet Union having been doing the rounds recently and they’re, uh, great? I guess.

They were highlighted by University of California Berkeley historian Dr Gene Zubovich on Twitter earlier this week. His tweet was picked up by the National Post, among other places.


The 11 jokes are, uh, perhaps a bit dated by modern standards. Here’s the first one:

“A worker standing in a liquor line says, ‘I have had enough, save my place, I am going to shoot Gorbachev.’ Two hours later he returns to claim his place in line. His friends ask, ‘Did you get him?’ No, the line there was even longer than the line here.’

Haha. Here’s another.

“What’s the difference between Gorbachev and Dubcek? Nothing, but Gorbachev doesn’t know it yet.”


Classic Gorbachev.

As Quartz noted last year, the jokes were part of a 13-million-page release of declassified CIA documents released online. Speaking to the website, Peter Clement, deputy assistant director of CIA for Europe and Eurasia, said the jokes were popular in CIA offices at the time.

“The US Embassy in Moscow would send in a ‘jokes cable,’ usually annually, listing some of the better jokes that they had picked up,” he said. “At the end of year, they would do kind of an annual round-up, kind of a holiday gift if you will.”

The jokes apparently also made their way into the homes of regular people in the Soviet Union. The CIA waited 25 years to declassify documents, which means this one – dated for release in 2013 – was probably created in 1988.


Here’s another. I actually quite like this one:

“A man goes into a shop and asks ‘You don’t have any meat?’ ‘No replies the sales lady, ‘We don’t have any fish. It’s the store across the street that doesn’t have any meat.’”

So there you have it. I guess the best way to get through one of the most troubled times in modern history, with nukes aimed at one another, was to make light of the situation whenever possible. And hey, who can blame them with zingers like this:

“Ivanov: Give me a medical example of perstroyka.
Sidorov: (Thinks) How about menopause?”


You can read the rest of them right here, if you can bear the hilarity.


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  • Soviet Union,

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  • CIA,

  • Jokes