The Let's Play Archive

KGB aka Conspiracy

by red mammoth, Xander77

Part 73: Final Bonus and Plot Explanations

Final Bonus Update and Plot Explanations

The final update naturally has quite a few

but they are mostly quite similar. I will omit the same "you ran out of time and leads" and "Savinkov and Volvov discover you" that merely take place in different rooms.

Waiting around before going to Gorki Street:

Waiting around on Gorki Street:

Your instinct tells you that the minutes are running out... A familiar face comes out of Yakuchev's apartment.

You've no leads to follow, Rukov. Something tells you that Greenberg has the answer, even if he doesn't realize it.

Less than ten minutes later:

You wait for the militia investigator. What happens thereafter is of little interest; you arrived too late at Yakuchev's. Your mission failed.

Oddly enough, you can hang around Yakuchev's place for longer than ten minutes without being arrested, once you've spoken to Greenberg.

You can ask Greenberg about Motherland and "Memory's Bible" in either order:

Remember how Greenberg asked us not to follow him? If you do (or if you merely leave the apartment immediately after him, instead of searching the place):

: You goons never learn, do you?

The game also warned us against going anywhere besides Great Patriotic War street right afterwards:

In spite of your gut feeling, you decide to give Great Patriotic War street a miss.

If you leave the gallery:

There's only one branch of dialog with the manageress we failed to explore - telling her we're just really into religious art:

If we linger within the gallery - in fact, if we even pause to examine the closet before hiding in it - we are shown out.

We can follow the tourist, for no real reason:

As they climb aboard the tour bus, you realize you have run out of leads to follow. Your initiative came to nothing.

Alternately, following the manageress makes a bit more sense:

The driver conscientiously tails the other cab, which drives around for about 45 minutes, ending up back on Great Patriotic War street.

Someone comes out of the gallery.

: You appreciate of course that your complete insubordination and wild individualistic initiatives will inevitably result in disciplinary measures of the severest kind! Consider yourself under arrest!

You clearly failed to act quickly enough!

The gallery is probably the most time-sensitive moment in the game. Dawdle for just a few minutes, and:

Before you can do anything...

(Yes, you don't even get the option to jump into Protopopov's cell)

The exact same spiel. Volvov contributes nothing, and Savinkov isn't too concerned to find you right outside the open door that leads to Protopopov.

Should we kill Protopopov (any action besides fighting him will cause Volvov to repeat his instructions until Vanya arrives):

: Excellent work, Rukov.

The fewer people know of this affair, the better.

Volvov's bullet splatters your brain on the wall behind you.

Your final possible death is rather obvious, and utterly free of fanfare:


Unanswered questions.

With that taken care of, let's delve right into the game's plot, parts of which may remain unclear even after you've finished the game (or read the LP).

As you can see, the list of characters and their relation to each other is rather easy to understand (my thanks to forums user Elite for this contribution):

Right. Perhaps a chart is not quite the best way to make sense of all this. What about a huge text dump, courtesy of the one and only KGB fansite?

Plot Summary posted:

1983 : By making their car explode, Maksim Rukov's parents are assassinated in Afghanistan by Verto and Yakuchev, on the orders of Viktor Galushkin. Rukov's father was a KGB member in active duty there, as well as his brother (Uncle Vanya) who was with him but survived the exposion, although he was confined to a wheelchair afterwards. The reasons for this assassination are unexplained, but because it took place several years before the game's events, it can be assumed they are otherwise unrelated and simply involve some previous internal KGB shenanigans.

1985 : Mikhail Gorbachev becomes the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR (effectively making him leader of the Soviet Union) and launches in the subsequent years an ambitious program of reforms, notably with the concepts of Perestroika and Glasnost.

1990 : Gorbachev becomes President of the USSR, a newly created office. He repeals an article in the Constitution that gave the Communist Party supremacy over all other institutions in society, considerably hindering the Party's power.

1991 : This is when the game begins. The USSR is in a severe economic and political crisis, which some blame on President Gorbachev's reforms, and the power of the Communist Party is dwindling.

A group of hardliner communists are planning a coup to overthrow Gorbachev, whom they reckon is ruining the power of the Party, and replace him with one of their own people. They plan to kidnap Gorbachev and have an impersonator announce his resignation on TV, in favour of a hardliner communist. This group, who gives this project the codename "New Birth", is notably composed of KGB members Viktor Galushkin, Radomir Savinkov, Grigori Agabekov and major Vovlov, as well as Alfred Obukov. They are also helped by a corrupt CIA agent, Carla Wallace.

Their plan is almost ready. An unwitting comatose man named Protopopov has had his face remodelled to look exactly like Gorbachev, and has gone through a groundbreaking "personality restructuring" process in order to erase his real personality and make him recite a specific speech (the resignation speech) when triggered by a code word.

Colonel Kusnetsov, a corrupt power-hungry KGB official, is in their way. In order to distract him and eventually have him arrested and executed, they create an elaborate bait in the form of a snuff video tapes / crack trade. Knowing his corrupt instincts and his taste for money, they arrange for him to notice the trade and get involved in it, so that they can collect proof of his involvement and eventually expose him.

Meanwhile, Uncle Vanya, still working for the KGB undercover, has been investigating all along the murder of his brother. He was eventually led to Galushkin and picked up on the New Birth conspiracy. He asks major Vovlov, who secretly still works for him, to infiltrate the New Birth group. But Vovlov (who either was already part of the group, or joined them afterwards) is in favour of the coup and thus plays the role of a triple agent.

Uncle Vanya is old and confined to a wheelchair, preventing him to do any field work. Vovlov's position doesn't allow for much field work either. So Vanya pulls strings to have his nephew Maksim Rukov transferred to Department P, so he can continue the investigation.

Private detective and ex-KGB member Pyotr Golitsin is hired (unbeknownst to him, by the KGB) to investigate on the snuff tapes business. He eventually becomes aware that his mysterious employer, using the codename Jealous Husband, must be a KGB member, and he then attempts to identify him. This attempt results in his death. Whether convenient or planned all along, his death gives Vovlov an excuse to send Rukov to take over his investigation.

While he is told by his superiors that he is investigating the snuff tapes trade, Rukov's ultimate role in this plan is to find proof of Kusnetsov's involvement so that the New Birth conspirators can dispose of him. Savinkov meets with Rukov and encourages him to focus on Kusnetsov and ignore the other clues (which would point to their real project). But an anonymous informer, Cut-throat, sets Rukov on the right track by telling him Kusnetsov is unimportant and he should focus on Agabekov and his contacts instead. He also mentions New Birth to him for the first time. While Vovlov later claims to have sent Cut-throat, he was in fact probably sent by Uncle Vanya.

Eventually, Rukov finds sufficient reasons to be wary of his employers, and ends up spying on the New Birth conspirators instead.

Just as New Birth is about to come to fruition, members of Pamyat, a xenophobic and anti-communist radical group, kidnap Protopopov.

Thanks to Agabekov's interrogation of the nurse who helped her Pamyat friends with the kidnapping, the New Birth conspirators manage to find out where Protopopov is being kept and come to the rescue. But, meanwhile, Rukov's actions have panicked Savinkov into coming to Vovlov. Understanding that there have been major leaks and that the plan with Protopopov is now likely to fail, the ambitious and self-preserving Vovlov wants to make the most of the situation and attempts to switch sides. He kills Galushkin and Savinkov, who have become a liability to him as they know of his involvement. In order to destroy all evidence and also perhaps so he can claim he prevented the conspiracy and receive considerable honours, he attempts to kill Rukov and Vanya, but ends up getting killed by Rukov in self-defence.

FAQ posted:

Q: Whose side is major Vovlov really on? What does he want?
A: Vovlov supports the coup against Gorbachev, as evidenced by his dying words. For once his words can be trusted here, since he would have no reason to lie about this when he's about to die in a matter of seconds. Vovlov was involved in New Birth and played the role of a triple agent: an agent who pretends to be a double agent having infiltrated an organisation (New Birth) for the benefit of another organisation (Uncle Vanya), while he is in fact on the side of the first organisation (New Birth) all along. But Vovlov is above all an ambitious and self-serving man. When Protopopov is kidnapped and Rukov's actions prompt Savinkov to come to him, he understands there have been major leaks and the plan is likely compromised. He thus attempts to switch sides before it's too late. Galushkin and Savinkov have become a liability to him as they know of his involvement, so he kills them. In an attempt to destroy all evidence and also perhaps so he can claim he prevented the conspiracy and receive considerable honours, he attempts to "clean up" by trying to kill Rukov and Vanya.

Q: Who sends Cut-throat?
A: Uncle Vanya. During the game's last sequence, Vovlov is still trying to convince Rukov that he means him well, and pretends he's the one who sent Cut-throat. If true, this would mean Vovlov is working against New Birth, but from the answer to the previous question we know that's not the case. Vovlov's statements at this point clearly can't be taken seriously, since he also claims Galushkin committed suicide, when it is later revealed he actually killed him. The one person who has been pulling strings and secretly helping Rukov get on the right track is Uncle Vanya, who is thus very likely the person who sent Cut-throat.

Q: Who assassinated Rukov's parents?
A: Verto and Yakuchev, on the orders of Galushkin. The photo of the exploding car was taken both as a proof that the job was done, and as a safety measure so that by tearing it up and keeping one half each, Verto and Yakuchev got to keep incrimating evidence against each other, preventing them from turning on each other. The first half of the photo is found in Verto's apartment, and the second half (showing Galushkin secretly observing the explosion) is found in Yakuchev's apartment.

Q: Why is there a photo of Rukov's parents' assassination in the flats of Verto and Yakuchev?
A: Because they were the assassins (on the orders of Galushkin), see above.

Q: Why were Rukov's parents assassinated?
A: This is never explained, but because it took place eight years before the game's events, it can be assumed the reasons are otherwise unrelated and simply involve some previous internal KGB shenanigans. It is indeed completely unlikely that New Birth existed when Gorbachev wasn't even in power, and similarly unlikely that the snuff tapes / crack trade existed either, since it was a diversion created by the New Birth conspirators.

Q: How did Rukov end up investigating the same people who killed his parents?
A: Since Uncle Vanya orchestrated Rukov's transfer to Department P, he was definitely behind it. It is probable that his own investigation on the murder of Rukov's parents eventually led him to Galushkin, and that he picked up on the New Birth conspiracy while investigating him.

Q: Who bugged Golitsin's phone and searched his office?
A: Greenberg. He spies on Golitsin as he is investigating the snuff tapes business. The bug is of western origin, and Greenberg can be seen watching the place the first time Rukov looks out the window.

Q: Who killed Golitsin?
A: Jealous Husband, or someone working for him. Jealous Husband is undoubtedly a KGB member, possibly Vovlov or Galushkin, as evidenced by Golitsin's speech on the audio tape. Golitsin was killed as he was attempting to discover his identity, so either he discovered too much and had to be disposed of, or he was going to get killed either way so that Rukov could take over his investigation. We know from Verto's comments on Golitsin that his gang didn't do it, so the only other possible answer is Jealous Husband.

Q: Who sends the two killers to Rukov's hotel room, and why?
A: Agabekov did it, knowing it would incriminate Kusnetsov and Chapkin. Chapkin admits it wasn't him while under the influence of the truth serum, so that definitely rules him out. Kusnetsov could have done it out of fear that Rukov would expose his illegal activities, but then: 1) Wouldn't Chapkin know about it since they closely work together? and 2) Why couldn't Kusnetsov simply ask Chapkin to send Viktor Sliunkov, who already openly handles Chapkin's dirty work, instead of hiring him while hiding his identity behind a light? Agabekov, on the other hand, has good reason to hide his identity, and he also fits the "dark haired" description that Burlatski gives. Savinkov is meant to dispose of the killers (isn't it a strange coincidence that the killers show up at the same time as he does?), and coerce one of them into telling Rukov about the deal they made in room 304, eventually pointing to the involvement of Kusnetsov and Chapkin, who control the hotel and let one of their prostitutes use this room. Savinkov instructs Rukov to find out who sent the killers, which is of little relevance to the investigation of the snuff tapes / crack trade, but which is interesting in regards to his real agenda, i.e. finding evidence against Kusnetsov. Agabekov got the copy of Rukov's photo from his ID card when his belongings were taken away in Department 7.

Q: Who is driving the car Agabekov climbed in after his meeting with Obukov?
A: It could be Savinkov, or it could be an unimportant chauffeur.

Q: Who is this "Renko" character Savinkov talks about?
A: There is no Renko, it's a password so that Savinkov can prove his identity to Rukov, since they had never met in person before. The game did not tell you about it, but it can be assumed Rukov was instructed about it orally. It is made clear that Savinkov does not actually expect you to be a "Renko": if you waited for him in your room, he will knock, say "You're not Renko, are you?" and, without waiting for an answer, he calls you Rukov and tells you he's coming in. If you waited for him outside of your room, he will see you face to face and again say "You're not Renko, are you?" before introducing himself and proceeding to your room without waiting for an answer, obviously fully aware of who you really are.

Q: Why does Rukov disobey Savinkov's instructions at the end of Chapter 2?
A: If you've been carefully following the story, it makes perfect sense. But the game just assumes you understand what's happening, even if you don't, so perhaps you were left wondering why the game automatically made you disobey your controller. For starters, Cut-throat and Savinkov are telling you entirely different things: one advises you to focus on Agabekov and ignore Kusnetsov / Chapkin, while the other one advises the exact opposite, so one of them is clearly leading you on. But which one? The first hint of Savinkov's untrustworthiness comes when Greenberg tells you about his habit of giving Cuban cigars to people he is close to. So, thanks to the remains of the Cuban cigar you found (or caught a glimpse of) in Agabekov's office, you know Savinkov recently visited Agabekov. Strange, since he seems so convinced of Agabekov's integrity but pretends they are not in touch. The second and biggest hint comes when you tell him of your important discoveries regarding when, where and how the snuff tapes will be exchanged with the crack. He seems completely uninterested, yet he becomes excited when you give him dirt on Kusnetsov, telling you this is the kind of information he is looking for. Wait a minute, aren't you supposed to be investigating the snuff tapes / crack trade, or is there a hidden agenda here? The final hint comes when Savinkov finally instructs you to do nothing and simply take a well deserved rest in your hotel room, even though this will make you unable to observe the snuff tapes / crack exchange. Greenberg told you that when Savinkov begins to act friendly and humane with you, this is when he's sharpening a knife for your back, which is indeed what he's doing by then. All these hints combined are logically enough to make you conclude you shouldn't trust Savinkov.

Q: Why does Savinkov want to swindle the Leningrad gang by giving them sea salt instead of the crack they are supposed to get?
A: He presumably does this to cause problems within the gang, pushing them to act recklessly and make it easier to attract attention on Kusnetsov's involvement.

Q: What is Carla Wallace after?
A: Her disloyalty to the CIA is made clear early on when she claims that she speaks on Greenberg's behalf and that they are working together, only to have both claims refuted by Greenberg minutes later. According to Greenberg she preferred things how they used to be in the USSR, and thus has an interest in the coup the “New Birth” conspirators are preparing, though her exact motives remain unexplained. She could also have an interest in the crack shipments or an interest in the snuff tapes trade in the USA.

Q: Who burgles Rukov's hotel room in Chapter 4?
A: Whoever did it is a friend of Rukov, since the only thing that disappears is Chapkin's body, and the authorities aren't alerted. The point of the burglary was thus to discreetly get rid of the body so that Rukov doesn't get in trouble. It was probably the work of Cut-throat or one of his men.

Q: Why does Cut-throat deny that the down-and-out with the newspaper in the alley works for him?
A: He is presumably annoyed by the stupid question and does not dignify it with a real answer. It is obvious that they really are working together, not only from the code in the newspaper he gives you but also from when he gives you Yakuchev's address on Cut-throat's behalf.

Q: How come Protopopov was functional even though he was kidnapped before Tsibulenko could work on him?
A: Protopopov was already programmed by someone else before he arrived in Leningrad. Tsibulenko says so himself when you question him, he says his job was merely to "check the stability" and "reinforce the programming" of Protopopov.

Q: Why do the Pamyat members need Protopopov in good shape, since they are anti-communist and obviously against the coup planned by the New Birth conspirators?
A: This is never explained, though it's easy to think of potential reasons. They may want to reprogram him to make him give a different speech and use him for their own goals, or they may want to trade him to the New Birth conspirators in exchange for something else, or they may not know what to do with him yet but want him in good shape because they reckon he'll be useful, etc.

Q: Why is no one from Pamyat guarding Protopopov?
A: This is never explained, but since Rukov gets there only hours after the kidnapping took place, it is entirely possible that they intended on quickly coming back to guard him, but were short of available members given the emergency. It is also possible that Yakuchev was supposed to guard him, but he obviously couldn't get there as he had just been killed.

The one presumption I disagree with is about Uncle Vanya sending Cut-Throat. For one thing, if that was the case, I would hope that Cut-Throat wouldn't be quite so quick to dispose of Maks every time Maks misses one of his little pop-quizzes. For another, Vanya rather clearly states the he wasn't being kept in the loop re: New Birth's plan and Maks' safety until he came to Leningrad in person. Cut-Throat is either sent by some of the other people on Vanya's side, or is actually Volvov's stooge - Drobnitsa or some unknown minor Department 7 officer - there to make sure Volvov has all his bases covered regardless of which faction ends up triumphant.


Historical background.

I've made a number of posts in the thread dealing with the context and historical background of Soviet miscellanea. As I am a terribly lazy person, having taken over the LP I only have the energy for a wikipedia link and a brief summary. In order of importance:

The August Putsch. Those of you intimately familiar with Russian history may have noticed something interesting about the date the game takes place on right away (the intro sequence featuring pictures from news footage of the events may have helped). Everyone else were probably quite surprised about the direction the ending took.

On August the 18th-21st, the "reactionary" wing of the communist party conspired to depose Gorbachev. When the putsch is discussed, the reasons for it are generally framed in somewhat vague terms - "opposing Gorbachev's policies". However, it had an extremely concrete goal - preventing the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Though the game has Protopopov spout rhetoric about "death to antisocial elements and enemies of the state", the coup actually failed because Yanaev and his shaky hands band didn't (couldn't, both for ethical reasons and because the army wouldn't obey such a command) spill blood in sufficient quantities to kill Yeltsin and cow his supporters. And that was the end of the grand Soviet experiment.

Political Psychiatry in the Soviet Union. Not much to tell - Sluggish Schizophrenia was a diagnosis reserved for "antisocial elements", and as Tsibulenko demonstrated, pretty much any sort of behavior could be classified as a symptom that would lead to a long and uncomfortable stay in a Soviet psychiatric hospital for people who were (ironically) crazy enough to openly protest against the Soviet regime.

Pamyat. Those antisemitic fascist bastards (in Greenberg's words). Not actually monarchist - unfortunately, whitewashing Nikki 2 was (and still is) a major part of the anticommunist backlash. For a while, people had major concerns about Pamyat and neo-nazi presence in Russia - the cliche was "would the country that defeated fascism end up swallowed by the brown plague?" Well, turns out it wasn't. Yes, demonstrations with "kill the Jews, save Russia" slogans were a part of the times. Yes, quite a few Russian Jews (including my own family) decided to follow the kindly offered advice of "go back to your Israel". But, instead of translating their populist appeal into any sort of success in the elections / inciting actual violent action against Jewish targets, they have split up in a struggle for dominance over and over - each faction leader charging the others with being secret Jews - and quietly faded into irrelevance.


So, that was KGB. One of the more unique adventure games out there, as well as one of Cryo Entertainment's two decent games. I had fun finishing this LP, and I hope you had fun reading it. We laughed, we cried, and maybe - just maybe - learned a little something about the Soviet Union as well as ourselves.