From Tim Powers’ Declare (p 236-7):
And for getting Russian documents translated he found himself having to consult the weird old women in the MI5 Soviet Transcription Centre. This was located in another St. Albans house, in a tiny room which these fugitive White Russians had converted into a little anachronistic corner of Tsarist St. Petersburg, with carved wooden saint-icons standing among the dictaphone cylinders and acetate gramophone disks on the shelves, and a perpetual perfume of tea from the steaming samovar in the corner. To these wizened babushkas the NKVD was still the Cheka or even the pre-revolutionary Okhrana, and they took a particular intense interest in Hale’s researches, often pausing to cross themselves as they translated some musty old report of a Russian expedition to Turkey, in 1883 or a description of burned grass around little coin-sized eruption holes in the grave plots of Moscow cemeteries. All of these old grand-mothers were of the Russian Orthodox faith, but Hale noticed — uneasily — that their use of the term guardian angel was hesitant and fearful, and always accompanied by them splashing their lumpy old fingers in the holy water font by the locked door.