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Squealing Tires, No Comments and a Flattened Zhiguli With AM-Germany-Honecker

July 29, 1992

MOSCOW (AP) _ Journalists who waited months for former East German leader Erich Honecker to flee his Russian refuge finally got their moment Wednesday - a manic, tire- squealing, car-crashing moment.

Within minutes of hearing that Honecker would leave the Chilean Embassy in Moscow, dozens of photographers and correspondents descended on the modern brick building in northeastern Moscow.

They jostled each other for the best camera shot, then climbed over each other to photograph Honecker’s car as it left the compound.

As Honecker’s blue Volvo sedan raced away, foreign journalists - mostly TV photographers - gave chase. They careened through Moscow’s potholed streets trying to catch up with the convoy and photograph its prized cargo.

Three Moscow police cars flanked the Chilean-flagged car carrying Honecker, and at least three other unmarked cars ran interference to keep the journalists away.

In northern Moscow, one unmarked escort - a Soviet-made Zhiguli - veered too sharply and flipped over, said Jens Niehuss, an editor with Germany’s SAT- 1 television.

Niehuss said he stopped and helped pull three security men from the Zhiguli, which was leaking gasoline. The men were not seriously hurt, and the journalists resumed the chase, Niehuss said.

Minutes later, the convoy raced to the entrance to Vnukovo-2 diplomatic airport and, barely slowing, sped through a high-security fence, which immediately closed behind them.

Less than a minute later, a half-dozen cars loaded with journalists screeched to a halt at the same fence and photographers piled out, cameras at the ready.

They were too late.

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