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By Brian Freemantle
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1988 Brian Freemantle
All rights reserved.
Victor Kazin had been stunned after the interview with the KGB chairman in Dzerzhinsky Square, initially unable properly to think. Even before he had been unsettled, hardly able to believe that the Gorbachov changes would reach into the KGB. The rest of Soviet society and life maybe – what the hell did they matter! – but not actually into the Committee for State Security. They were sacrosanct, beyond any interference: an elite society within a society whose recognized and acknowledged position was – or should have been – uninterfered and unquestioned. Always had been: always should be. Didn't they – but more importantly, didn't Gorbachov – realize that without the KGB and its controls and its surveillance and its loyalty to the leadership there wouldn't be a Union of Socialist Soviet Republics! A Politburo, even! All the others had. No matter what the outside upheavals, the KGB had until this aberration remained untouchable. The chairmen had been shuffled and purged, certainly: that was understandable. Expectable. Yagoda and Yezhov under Stalin. Beria, under Krushchev. But nothing more than that; nothing more than changes at the absolute top where changes had cosmetically to be made. Who would have imagined – ever conceived – provincial KGB officers actually being brought to trial and openly criticized in newspapers for minor infractions of laws that did not apply to them anyway!
And now this, the most shattering of all. Not just a humiliating diminution of his authority. But for it to be him! It was beyond surprise: beyond belief. It was as if someone had found out – that there were long-ago records – but Kazin knew that couldn't be because one of his first actions upon being appointed initially sole head of the KGB's First Chief Directorate had been to check the archives to guarantee there were no such reports that might one day be resurrected and used against him. Despite which Kazin thought it impossible for Vasili Malik's appointment to now share the rôle of joint controller of the Chief Directorate to be a coincidence. Malik, of all people! The man he hated and despised more than he'd ever hated and despised anyone: someone he would do anything to destroy.
And he would destroy the man, Kazin vowed. Malik had stolen from him once. Robbed him of something more precious than he had ever known, before or since. The bastard would not steal anything from him again: certainly not the First Chief Directorate, the control of which had been Kazin's ambition from the moment of joining the Soviet intelligence service in the distant days of Stalin's reign, before it was even known as the KGB.
Alone in his expansive office in the Chief Directorate headquarters overlooking Moscow's peripheral road, Kazin actually sniggered to himself, the earlier burning, impotent fury diminishing. Malik had been forever and permanently safe from the longed-for vengeance within the KGB's Second Chief Directorate, too independently powerful. It was the very fact of the man being untouchable that led Kazin to target the son, determined to hurt by proxy if that were the only way. But it wasn't now: not any longer. Now he would be able to destroy them both, father and son.
He would have to be careful, though. At the moment Kazin objectively accepted his was the weaker position, someone suspect because of initial and admittedly mistaken opposition to Gorbachov, a stance he'd taken because he had been sure the Kremlin establishment would neuter the man. He'd had no alternative anyway: he was provably on record as declaring for Brezhnev and then Andropov. And by so doing branding himself an Old Order traditionalist.
So it was essential to get his survival priorities right. Which meant first proving himself to Gorbachov and his new broom acolytes, with some spectacular intelligence coup. Kazin smiled to himself again. The American operation could not have matured at a more fortuitous time.
The appointments buzzer sounded on his desk and Kazin responded at once, the dossier already open before him.
Vladislav Andreevich Belov was the director of the department within the First Chief Directorate responsible for espionage within the United States and Canada. He was a stick-dry, unemotional man who had linked himself to Kazin's support of the old, out-of-date regimes and now, too late, accepted the mistake. The American proposal would provide the essential recovery, he knew: the uncertainty was presenting it through Kazin. The appointment of a new man to share overall control of the Directorate had to indicate that Kazin was in decline. It was too late now to switch the operation to the supervision of Vasili Malik, who was anyway someone with whom so far he had had no contact. Belov felt trapped; trapped and helpless.
'We are finally ready!' greeted Kazin. He was a small, fleshy man who perspired easily. He was sweating now, partially from an habitual nervousness which kept his leg pumping unseen beneath the desk, partially from the anticipation of how he could use the other man's idea to his own benefit.
'Almost,' said Belov guardedly.
'How long have we had John Willick as a CIA source?' asked Kazin.
'It was getting close,' said Belov. 'He's being transferred. We don't know yet to what department.'
Why did Kazin need to query what was already in the report in front of him? Belov said: 'He doesn't think so. There is some personality clash with a new department head.'
'That was the intention, from the beginning,' reminded Belov.
'Who is the conduit to be to the CIA?'
'Kapalet,' said Belov. 'He's been operating out of our embassy in Paris. We're sure Washington is convinced he's genuine.'
Kazin nodded, coming to the most important person in a deception that had taken years to evolve. 'And Levin is ready?' he demanded.
'We've simulated every imaginable possibility,' assured Belov. 'He's never failed.' Yevgennie Pavlovich Levin was going to be a Hero of the Soviet Union but never acknowledged as such, Belov thought. He supposed the award could be given in absentia.
'The CIA will be thrown into turmoil,' said Kazin distantly. 'Absolute and utter turmoil.' And I will be protected and saved from whatever changes are being considered, he thought.
'Turmoil is not the intended purpose of the operation at all,' said Belov in further reminder.
Belatedly Kazin realized the other man's need. 'It has been brilliantly conceived,' he said in delayed praise. 'Absolutely brilliant.'
'Thank you, Comrade First Deputy,' said Belov. Who else would ever learn it was his idea, he wondered. The answer was quick in coming.
Kazin gazed directly across the desk and said: 'I intend taking full control of this operation.'
The whore's ass was going to steal the credit! Belov, who was adept at remaining dry-footed in the political swamp of Moscow, betrayed no facial reaction. He said: 'I understand.'
'You will be acknowledged the architect,' promised Kazin.
Liar, thought Belov. He said: 'You are very generous, Comrade First Deputy.'
Kazin realized allies were going to be important in the coming months. He said: 'You have my personal assurance on that.'
There was a legend, Belov remembered, that Stalin had been fond of assuring his victims of personal support just before sending them before the firing squads in Lubyanka. He said: 'Shall I issue the orders?'
'No!' refused Kazin, almost too quickly. More slowly he added: 'I will decide the timing.'
Whore's ass, thought Belov again.
Alone once more in his office, Kazin stared unseeingly down at his desk, continuing in his determined order. The son first, he decided. That had always been the intention: why he'd manipulated the brat into the Directorate he governed, enjoying the thought of Malik's helplessness. The man had been politically astute in not trying to interfere over the Afghan posting of his son, although isolated as he had been in another Chief Directorate there would have been little he could have done anyway. But Malik had not been able to hold back after the slaughter of the military following the GRU fiasco. That's when the opportunity had come.
Kazin focused upon the memorandum to which Malik had identifiably assigned his name, one of the man's first actions upon his transfer. Not obviously self-destructive, acknowledged Kazin. Nor could it be construed to be nepotistic. It just had to be made to seem that way. And it would be. Gorbachov might be causing tidal waves within the KGB but Victor Ivanovich Kazin didn't intend being washed away by them. It was others who were going to be engulfed.
So far the scarcity of sex hadn't made the sheep look any more attractive but Yuri Vasilivich Malik wondered, in private amusement because there were so few other sorts of joke in a place like Afghanistan, just how long it would take for them to seem beautiful. There were only two unattached women – a secretary and a translator – with both of whom Yuri was sleeping and with both of whom he was bored. The wife of the Third Secretary was clearly available and he was sure the wife of the Third Secretary was also interested.
But so far Yuri had held back, unwilling to take any careless risks with his first embassy appointment. He only wanted to be fucked in the literal sense of the word. He already considered himself fucked every other way.
Yuri, a slight but compact man, fair-haired and blue-eyed and permanently diet-careful against becoming heavy, which he knew he could easily do, was unable to forgive his father's refusal to intervene to prevent his posting to this stinking sewer of a place. Talk of inseparable divisions between Chief Directorates was so much bullshit: just like the lecture about the necessity of avoiding political infighting within the organization was so much bullshit. Yuri was ... was what? Surprised wasn't strong enough. Bewildered was better: bewildered because his father had never before refused him, in anything he had asked. Until now, when he'd made the most important request of all.
One realization brought another: that from now on Yuri Vasilivich Malik was the only person likely to help Yuri Vasilivich Malik.
Even his Kabul sex life was linked to that philosophy.
Both the secretary and the translator sensed his indifference and both tried with the desperation of single women in an environment of attached men to keep him in their beds, willing to share him unprotestingly and to innovate any sort of sexual experimentation he cared to suggest.
Yuri suggested a lot. And not all of it sexual. Yuri was circumspect, never appearing obviously to question but simply to listen sympathetically as they pillow-gossiped their day-to-day activities. It gave him access to the innermost secrets of the Kabul embassy; secrets, he was sure, unknown even to the official KGB security officer who was supposed to be informed of everything.
'There's a lot of Eyes-Only traffic being directed to the rezident from Moscow,' disclosed the secretary, whose name was Ilena and who worked exclusively for the Kabul KGB controller, Georgi Petrovich Solov.
'What about?' said Yuri, the casualness successfully concealing his immediate interest.
They had just finished one of his favourite ways of making love and she still lay with her mouth wetly against his thigh. She said: 'I've not seen it all: it looks as if a major operation is being planned.'
'A lot of extra work for you, then?' he lured.
'I could find out more,' she offered at once, anxious to please him in everything.
'It's inevitable I shall be involved, eventually,' Yuri encouraged. 'You wouldn't be doing anything wrong in letting me know early.'CHAPTER 2
Vasili Dmitrevich Malik was a huge man, barrel-chested, bulge-bellied and well over six feet, maybe as tall as six and a half feet. And the disfigurement appeared strangely to accord him even greater height, from how he held himself because of it. The injury occurred during the Stalingrad siege, long before General Zhukov's relief forces had encircled von Paulus' attackers. No one had ever been able to establish how it had happened – certainly not Malik, who'd mercifully been rendered immediately unconscious – but the consensus was a shrapnel ricochet from an incoming Soviet shell. It would have had to have been a very large and very sharp piece of metal. Malik's left arm had been instantly severed high at the shoulder, which had further been crushed by the impact. It was still only October, 1942 – almost three months before the lifting of the Nazi assault – but even by then only the most basic medical treatment had been possible. The doctors had been able to save his life by sealing the obvious wound, although they'd had little anaesthetic left either, but there were no facilities in the holed and cratered makeshift field hospital to rebuild the shattered shoulder. It had set pressed high, almost in a hump. Malik had completely adjusted to the loss of his arm, not needing any assistance after the first six months, but the right side of his body remained lower than the left and as he had grown older he had developed the tendency to walk with something resembling a limp. In the last five years it had been necessary to have his right shoe reinforced, to compensate for the constant pressure.
What other – and different – types of pressure was he going to encounter because of the transfer of Chief Directorates, Malik wondered. A lot, he guessed: some that were impossible, at this early stage, even to anticipate. It was inevitable that Victor Kazin, a man he had once considered his closest friend, would regard the split directorship as a reduction of his authority. Logically it had to be so despite the insistence of KGB chairman Victor Chebrikov at the appointment interview that it was merely a provisional division of the largest and most important Chief Directorate within the organization. How long had it been, since his last proper encounter with Kazin? It would have to be almost forty years, he supposed: the three of them at the Gertsena apartment, Olga sobbing emptily and he and Kazin holding back when each had wanted physically to tear at the other: kill each other. Certainly that's what he'd wanted to do. Kazin would have won if it had come to that, Malik conceded, because he'd hardly healed by then. He remembered realizing that at the time but he'd still wanted to try because the hatred was so strong. So what about now? Was there any hate left? No, Malik decided at once. It was all too long ago; too distant. There was no hatred, no disappointment, no urge to cause hurt. He'd actually found it possible to love again, Malik remembered; love again completely. He wondered if he would have difficulty in recognizing the other man.
And he was going to have to recognize him. Recognize him and work with him. An experiment, the KGB chairman had called the decision to divide the Directorate control: an experiment from which greater efficiency was expected. If only the chairman had known what real sort of experiment he was creating!
Malik sighed, staring around the still-new office, momentarily unwilling to confront the necessary decision. It had been naive expecting the approach to come from Kazin; preposterous, even if he had just been the newcomer into the other man's domain. And he was anything but that. His had to be the offer, not the other way around.
Kazin's agreement to Malik's request for a meeting took three days, which Malik considered pointedly too long, almost childishly petulant; he, not Kazin, had been the victim, after all! Kazin's memorandum stipulated the encounter should be in his office – making Malik go to him – rather than somewhere neutral like the Dzerzhinsky Square headquarters. Passingly Malik thought of suggesting an alternative but just as quickly dismissed the idea: it would have been matching petulance with petulance. He did not want any longer to fight.
Kazin's office was at the front of the Directorate headquarters and obviously better established than that of Malik. The furnishings were predominantly Scandinavian, all light wood except for a conference area to one side where there were dark leather chairs and a couch and a long, chair-bordered table around which at least a dozen people could have assembled. Kazin's desk, which was quite bare, even the blotter unmarked, was directly in front of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the traffic-clogged ring road. There was complete double glazing, creating a disorienting effect of scurrying vehicles devoid of noise, television picture with the sound turned down.
Excerpted from The Bearpit by Brian Freemantle. Copyright © 1988 Brian Freemantle. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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