I won't do this story justice -- he tells it so much better -- but a friend of mine went to Russia in 1995ish. He was there for six weeks with another guy from his journalism class (IIRC). Friend of friend was legit crazy, probably an addict, and the source of many good stories.
They're in one of the "former" cities -- Volgograd maybe. Friend of friend arranges an interview with a local bigwig and asks my friend to go with him. Sure, why not.
So that evening they're wandering through town following a street map (pre-cell) and gradually travel out of the commercial district into an industrial/warehousey area. My friend starts to get a bad feeling about it and wants to turn back, but friend of friend insists they're almost there and doesn't want to lose the interview. So on they go.
Finally they arrive at the place. It's a solid brick building, no windows. Friend is convinced they're not even in the right place, but friend of friend knocks on the door and a little window in the door slides back. Dude on the other side is very much "WTF" when he sees these two. Friend of friend explains why they're there and they're ushered in. Basically an empty building.
Some context here... even today my friend, a successful professional and happily married father of two, could pass for a homeless person if he skipped a shower for a few days. Ratty shoes, holey jeans, tatty t-shirts, stubble. Appearance just isn't his jam. Back then? You could see through some of his shirts they were so worn. These guys are not exactly representing.
Anyhow, after a wait while their story is checked out, they get led through some similarly empty rooms, up some stairs, etc -- deep into the building. My friend is already convinced they've made a big mistake when the guy leading them comes to the door of a floor-to-ceiling industrial-quality safe embedded in the wall and... knocks.
The safe door swings open and reveals a fully furnished series of rooms -- there's an entire area walled off from the rest of the building and accessible only through the safe door. Which closes behind them as they're led through.
So now these two 20-something Americans who look like they stepped out of the set of "Clerks" on a ten-day bender are led into a second room where the the city's leading mafioso greets them. They're literally locked in a safe inside a building in the middle of an industrial park thousands of miles from home with a Russian crime boss. My friend is convinced that, if they're lucky, they're about to be kidnapped.
Details on exactly how friend of friend got set up with this guy in the first place, and what he actually knew about the him beforehand, are murky, but he plows forward -- playing it straight -- and goes through the motions of conducting the interview he'd asked for. Obviously not asking anything sensitive now. During the entire thing my friend has the sense they're being sized up and is basically trying not to puke.
In the end though they're turned loose. Given what was going on in Russia at the time, immediately after the Soviet breakup, my friend remains convinced to this day that the only thing that saved them was the fact that they both looked so completely broke and bum-like that no one would believe it was worth the time or trouble to shake them down or try to ransom them.