"if a Tu-144 ever carried any 'Human Ballast' it wasn't on those 102 flights"
- I'm pretty sure, Tu144 never carried any 'poor sods told to hop aboard as human ballast'.
"Did Party bigwigs use it... ?"
- probably, only as regular passengers. It was never a Soviet "Air Force 1", like Il62 or, now, Il96. I've never heard it carried any official delegations either.
"On paper it had more range, capacity and speed than Concorde, not in real life though."
- well, it was designed to carry 146 passengers as it had 5 seats in a row (being only 40 cm wider than Concorde). The range was 5500-5700 km with 110-130 passengers - data for Tu144D version where "D" means the same as "ER" in English. Looks quite comparable to Concorde. Speed - M2.15 maximum, 2120 km/h cruising. This data are from Russian web site. Basic model - the non-"D" one - had maximum speed 2500 km/h, cruising speed 2200 km/h with range just 3080 km with full load (3600 km with half load). Nothing really better than Concorde even on paper, and, still, who cares about all these "bigger/faster" things if the aircraft never was a reliable flying machine, even if those numbers were achieved in some test flights (they say, the 2500 km/h speed was achieved on Sep 20th, 1972, during test flight from Moscow to Tashkent)...
"Those 102 flights were normal passenger-carrying airline flights"
, Ben, here we are (data from the Russian site mentioned above, http://airbase.ru/sb/russia/tupolev/144/s/index.phtml): 102 was the total
number of all flights, cargo and passenger ones (first cargo flight was on Dec, 26th, 1975). Only 55 flights were made with passengers, max number of passengers aboard never exceeded 80, total 3284 people carried. Only two aircraft were used for passenger flights, CCCP-77109 and -77110 (-77106 for cargo). All flights were from Moscow to Alma-Ata (range 3260 km, speed 2000 km/h - indeed, real flights data are far from those on paper, and absolutely nothing to say, "better than Concorde"), so no cargo/mail flights to far east - only test flights (to Khabarovsk).
Still, any chance one of these 3284 people (assuming all of them flew only once) - appears on this forum?