In the summer of 1986, I spent a month working very successfully in the archives of the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Istoriko-diplomaticheskoe upravlenie, Ministerstvo inostrannykh del), and both the relative rarity of the experience and the significance of the materials preserved there warrant a brief report. Arkhiv vneshnei politiki Rossii (AVPR) is administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, unlike the records of all other prcrevolutionary ministries, which are held by state archives under Glavnoe arkhivnoe upravlenie pri Sovctc ministrov SSSR.
I was doing research on the Greek project of Catherine II, the notorious scheme whereby she planned to share with Joseph II the partition of the Ottoman Empire and perhaps to reestablish the old Greek or East Roman Empire under her grandson Constantine. The materials I read consisted primarily of St. Petersburg's diplomatic correspondence with Paris, Vienna, and Constantinople during the 1780s. I had prepared for the research in Moscow by working in the analogous correspondence of the Archives du Ministére des Affaires étrangéres (Quai d'Orsay) in Paris and the Haus-, Hof-, und Staatsarchiv in Vienna during preceding summers. In Moscow, I was given a generous abundance of material to read, including twenty-nine volumes of the correspondence with Paris, thirty-three volumes of correspondence with Vienna, and eight volumes of correspondence with Constantinople. Much of the material was invaluable, and some of it was entirely new to historical research. The quality of the information, however, was far from uniformly distributed.