British troops given guide to Estonian strip clubs

By George Greenwood
BBC Freedom of Information researcher

image captionThe troops were taking part in a training operation in Tallinn

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) provided British soldiers with a guide to strip clubs in the Estonian capital, a freedom of information request to the department has revealed.

The advice featured in a booklet titled "Tallinn guide for friendly forces", given to troops taking part in a Nato Steadfast Javelin training operation.

The operation took place in May 2015.

The MoD would not comment on the guide but said advice on "staying safe" was routinely given to troops while abroad.

The BBC requested copies of various documents concerning the operation, also known as Exercise Hedgehog.

In its response, the department provided the guide, which includes a section detailing three strip clubs in Tallinn.

Lasso Baar was said to be a "big strip bar with one of the prettiest dancers" and Soho was identified as the "biggest strip club in Estonia". X Club was billed as "the most professional strip club with various elements".

The guide also gave British troops further advice on what to expect at Estonian strip clubs.

image copyrightThinkstock
image captionThose visiting strip clubs were advised to "use cash"

Troops were informed that "all strip clubs offer private rooms for individual dances", and that "the average level of rolling tips to girls is 5 to 20 euros". They were also advised "to use cash in such places".

Asked if it was appropriate for the government to provide such material, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said: "As you would expect, we routinely provide guidance to our people about staying safe while on deployment."

The department would not comment on who had produced the guide, how it had been distributed to troops, or whether it would be issued to troops serving in Estonia in future.

The guide included other nightlife tips, such as pubs Mad Murphy's and Hell Hunt, or visiting the city's historic Old Town for a dash of Baltic culture.

It also offered a warning on public drinking, saying that to avoid a police fine, "when you want to drink spirits in the street it is wise to cover the bottles".

And it includes gift ideas for British troops. It suggests a visit to a shop called Bonbon Lingerie as a good place to pick up something special for wives and girlfriends. In terms of a bottle of something to bring home, it suggests Vana Tallinn or Old Tallinn liquor, of which the guide says, "Finns just love it and some of them use it as a sleeping pill."

A spokesperson for the Estonian embassy in London said the Estonian government had not produced the guide.

"According to the information received from the Estonian Defence Forces this is not an official document produced by or for the Government of Estonia."

Operation Steadfast Javelin was a major Nato training exercise, in which 13,000 troops and reserves defended positions against a simulated attack by land and air.

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