Part 75: Best posts from the thread - Part 2Appendix - Best posts from the thread, part 2
On the hotel Severnaya Zvezda, Western decadence, the drug trade, and street names:
"Severnaya Zvezda" translates into "The Northern Star", which is exactly the sort of name a Soviet Hotel might have.
The bit about service personnel as said hotel being "consummate professionals" and the like might be a cheeky hint about something that the game doesn't have the time or need to delve into. You may have surmised that people working with tourists were generally informants for the KGB - what you might not have known is that a number of said older professional's behind the service counter or the bar were actually retired security personnel. A colonel or a general's pension means very little compared to the sort of foreign currency* you can earn by supplying tourists with... oh pretty much anything. Women, drugs,"niche films". For the longest time none of the above were available to the average USSR citizen - and had they known that such indulgences were there for tourists, it would have (theoretically) only reinforced their beliefs about decadent Western morals.
The drugs of choice in the USSR were Cocaine for the elite, and Heroin for the common folk - to begin with, mostly in the eastern areas of the USSR, next to Afghanistan. I don't think Crack was ever much of a thing - if the game wasn't made by a French team, I'd blame the hysterical reaction America had in the 90's. "Crack is 11 times more dangerous than Cocaine, according to this sheet of paper I found up my ass" and all that.
* Immensely valuable and hard to acquire in the Soviet Union.
What exactly are "niche films"? I'm guessing either pornography or popular Hollywood action films. And this "decadent Western morals" thing, was that a popular stereotype? Did the average Soviet citizen actually perceive the "West" as being more decadent than their own country, even taking into account things like the rate of alcohol abuse being much higher than just about anywhere in the "West" and average lifespans being significantly shorter (thus showing that the average health of the general population is worse) in the USSR?
And another thing: would a "chekist" actually need a warrant in order to search a property? The stereotype of non-democratic regimes is that the security services have the kind of wide-ranging powers that would allow them to barge in almost everywhere they want, but I am curious as to how this would work in real life.
You'd have a far easier time getting a warrant in a Totalitarian society than you would in a Liberal Democratic one, but you would absolutely always have one. Russia is (and always was) a highly bureaucratic society, where every legal action leaves a vast paper trail. As far as the Chekists or any other security service is concerned, this makes more sense than usual - you need to maintain a veneer of legitimacy on the one hand, and you want to make sure every action is held accountable before (ultimately) the party apparatus, so as to keep a tight check on any attempts to... well, do the sort of things we'll see latter on in the game.
It's porn. Sorry if I was a bit too subtle - I kinda assumed that associating the term with women and drugs would tip you off. Popular Hollywood films had (as I noted before) a thriving VHS market, complete with basement-dwelling translators, dubbers and distributors. The average citizen wouldn't require a lot of contacts to get his hands on a Hollywood movie (and a tourist would probably have better things to spend his time and money on).
It was a thing. It was a thing that everyone said. I'm not sure how much "belief" or "facts" factored into it. When Reagan termed the USSR "an Empire of Evil" did you hear a lot of people go "well, they're not the ones selling drugs to people who murder nuns"? Now imagine if every single one of Reagan's predecessors used the same terms going back to 1917.
If it helps, until... oh, the mid-80's, the average Russian had only seen a homeless person / prostitute / drug addict in one of the aforementioned Hollywood films. The idea that within a decade all of the above would become a common sight on Russian streets would seem like a fever dream.
Probably. I'm neither aware of nor interested in the exact travel route. Being allowed to travel abroad was one of the major perks of being a part of the elite, and being able to bring back things that you couldn't purchase in the Soviet Union (legal or otherwise) was the main benefit of traveling.
Ensign Expendable posted:
I should find "Guidelines for Visiting Bourgeois and Other Developing Countries" again. It had a lot of hilarious stuff like "Capitalists will attempt to bribe you. Do not accept cash bribes, and bring any culturally significant material goods you receive for placement in a museum."
Misha Glenny actually talks a lot about this in his writing on the subject (his most famous book is McMafia) and to expand upon this a little bit, the drugs's route usually arrived behind the Iron Curtain to Soviet republics with crappy customs enforcement, of which there were a lot. Georgia and Ukraine are two big ones. They'd come from pretty much anywhere that wasn't NATO affiliated, which sometimes required a change of plane and passport in Africa or something. It generally wasn't a big deal to forge throwaway identities for these criminal networks. From there you hopped a truck to the Russian border, where you used credentials that made the guards hesitant to search you too closely like Xander's talking about, and look at that, Bob's your uncle and you've got however many kg of drugs in the country.
People got caught of course, but people also got away with it enough for it to be economical.
Seems unlikely that tourists from "bourgeois" countries would bother with porn when they could easily get that stuff at home - if there was a market for them, it seems like it should be among Soviet citizens with better connections than most.
Something I just now noticed:
"Hammer and Sickle street" seems like a joke name (not to mention that they didn't translate other proper names), but it turn out there actually is one in Kharkov:
Soviet hotels didn't have pay-per-view.
Edit - Also, countries are not "bourgeois" any more than they are proletarian. That's not what those words mean.
There's also one in Casan' and a factory in Moscow. It's only a joke for people looking on (from the outside or backwards). The sort of name that actual Soviet people would find bathetic would be something along the lines of Oyushminald. (And if someone can place that reference, I will in absolute awe)
Mmm. That's if you're coming in from the West. Coming in from the East, you've got Afghanistan (and, for that matter, realtively nearby India, Pakistan, China), as mentioned above - a probable source of the first massive heroine shipments to Russia, as well as a small assortment of other drugs. Soldiers became addicts or started dealing during the war, and didn't have much trouble bringing large quantities back home. One popular myth claims that the reason that Kobzon performed so many concerts for the fighting troops was because he was carrying back a suitcase (or, according to the gossipers vulgar disposition, an assfull) of drugs back from every tour. A direct flight to Russia would barely be inspected - and if you're the sort who insists on reasonable risks, Tajikistan is right next door and is entirely incapable of handling border security (then or now).
Mmm. And while people made a big deal about changing Stalingrad or Leningrad's names, no one can (or should) be arsed to change every street and station. Some people may be mildly concerned about Moscow Metro stations that are still named after the Tzar's executioner in 2014, but it's not exactly the most pressing of issues.
I've seen the term used like that in some Soviet material: for example, I once consulted the 1973 edition of Ozhegov's "Slovar' russkogo yazyka". On the very first page the definition of "абсентеизм" included the phrase "в буржуазных странах" (in the 2005 edition in my possession the phrase is absent from the definition). Googling the phrase also turned up this and this. The point is, there was definitely a practice of labelling countries "bourgeois". My usage was intended as an ironic reference to this usage of the term.
Ensign Expendable posted:
I've seen "bourgeois" used to refer to countries to differentiate them from the same country as a part of the USSR. For example, pre-1940 Estonia would be called "bourgeois Estonia".
I won't touch on the "New Birth" thing, for obvious reasons so... how about that welcome we got when we came to Leningrad? I'm not entirely sure that's how an actual internal affairs investigator would have been greeted, but the rivalry between the cities - and representatives of the same organizations with those cities - is very much a thing. Kinda like a stereotypical movie sheriff would welcome an FBI agent moving onto his turf, only worse.
You probably know that Leningrad (or rather, Saint Petersburg) (Or rather, Petrograd) was Russia's capital up until 1917 (or up until a year or two after 1917, who cares). According to some people, that was the very moment that Soviet Russia started going downhill (because things were go ever so well until that point). Leningrad communists, while not belonging to the actual ruling elite which resided in Moscow, always took justifiable pride in being the spear-point of the revolution, and were independent to a fault. Stalin had to organize Kirov's assassination in order to break down and purge the Leningrad party. Despite everything that
LeningradSt Petersburg went through, it is still the only place in Russia, besides Moscow, to think of itself as "default city".
Here, have a bit of pretentious wankery on the subject. Despite all other indications, I assure you that it is quite entirely in earnest.
On the Russian language:
Ensign Expendable posted:
German is also capable of transforming words like that, but to a more limited degree. Russian has these things all over the place though, making a direct translation pretty difficult.
This was fairly hard to dig up, actually.
Here's the one big morphological breakdown I could find in Russian
A summary of the same In English
Mind you, when I think about Russian accents, the first thing that comes to mind is very much not the South/West/North distinction. Caucasian accents (racism warning), Odessa / Jewish accents, these are the first that come to mind. Someone else might mention the Moscow accent - drawn out ä sounds - but I have one of those, so I'm not particularly aware of it.
Some sample accents - the various leaders of the Soviet Union. Say what you will, but social mobility was high enough that anyone could become the
presidentLeader, no matter his accent / speech impediment.
Lenin had a speech impediment (also a rather good example of comic takes on USSR accents) that replaced his "r"s with "w"s (an uvular trill, I think?) which made him very easy to parody, even in English.
Stalin has a thick Gruzian accent, which combined with his steady, stoic delivery and repetition of favorite phrases, also made for fertile spoof material. An interesting tidbit: "Mikheil Gelovani greatly resembled Stalin physically, except in his stature: he was much taller than the latter. Reportedly, he was not the premier's favorite candidate for depicting himself on screen: since he was Georgian, he mimicked Stalin's accent "to perfection". Therefore, the leader personally preferred Aleksei Dikiy, who used classic Russian pronunciation."
Khrushchev apparently had a bit of a Ukranian accent, but I can't find a decent breakdown / parody (well, I can find parodies of the shoe scene, but they don't exactly focus on the accent).
Brezhnev had an extreme combo of an Ukranian accent, ill-fitting dentures, severe stroke-damage and possible other general issues that combined into a fantastic host of pronunciation issues that infamously turned "socialist countries" into "shitty sausages" (you'll note that Brezhnev is really hard to parody as any older or more incomprehensible that he was IRL).
Gorbachev has a Southern country bumpkin accent (which may explain his love of pizza). That and a whole host of parasite words and phrases he used constantly would form the basis for most of his parodies.
On Russian organized crime:
The Russian criminal brotherhood.
You may have heard of them "The Russian mafia". Which is a very rough simplification - the New Russians, roughly synonymous with modern Russian organized crime don't really uphold the old-timey codes and traditions, while the old-school gangsters can't really form proper organized crime gangs precisely because of these rules...
Ok, let's back this one up a bit. The old fashioned Russian criminals are unlike the Mafia in so far as they aren't organized in families or clans (ethnic criminal groups possibly excepted). They are alike in so far as they are all supposed to follow the criminal code. In fact, hierarchy is rather diffuse - but all too pervasive. You may not be member of a particular organization, you may not have a "rank", but whenever you arrive in a new town, you are expected to arrange a meeting with the locals, give them an idea as to what kind of "specialist" you are, and prove that you know and respect the unwritten rules - "the understandings" that were reached over the decades. There is a fairly large and inflexible code of thief conduct - but please abandon any ideas about noble or honorable thieves (even though that's one possible translation of what they call themselves). Like all criminal codes, it's mostly concerned with
butcheringshearing the sheep and keeping the peace amongst the wolves. A criminal who is never caught breaking the code, and puts in his time, may become a "Thief in Law" - often translated as a "Godfather" equivalent. But a "Vor v Zakone" may not lead a large gang or even have any "proper" subordinates (again, a different and more diffuse hierarchy) - he is merely a particularly respected member of the underworld community. You can even buy this rank, though such a title will only carry certain formal privileges, rather than proper authority.
If there is a certain positive side to the code, it is the prejudice against casual murder. A man who resorts to wet-work for no good reason may be feared, but not respected. It only takes so much mindless killing to be labelled as one "frozen solid" - an outlaw among outlaws, a man who respects neither the law of the state nor that of criminals. Immoral and depraved even by underworld standards, such a man is guided only be immediate greed, and may well be hunted down by his former comrades for their own safety. Kinda like The Beast in VTM, when you think about it.
Beyond the obvious and expected aspects of that code, the most striking aspect is probably the fact that an "honest" thief can't ever cooperate with The State. No, I said beyond the obvious. When interrogated by a representative of The State (whether a policeman, a psychiatrist or a social worker equivalent), he is obliged to declare himself a thief (a synecdochic signifier in criminal culture which encompasses any number of criminal paths), proclaim his indomitable hatred for The State, and refuse to answer further questions. He never registers with the state in any capacity, nor signs any documents - he cannot obtain a legal dwelling in his own name, get married or have a proper job, even as a cover. When in jail, he cannot be a part of the penal labor force, regardless of the repercussions (though in a "well run" jail, the "professional" criminals, as opposed to the civilians who went to jail for a single offense, will not be asked to work by the prison administration to begin with). An illustrative anecdote - if a previously "honest" thief is asked to ring a bell in order to announce that dinner is served, the moment his hand grasps the bell, he is a "bitch", a collaborator with the authorities, and his end will be swift and merciless.
WWIIThe Great Patriotic War, when it looked as though Russia may be overwhelmed and wiped out, a great thieves meeting was called, where many members argued for suspending their struggle against the state for the duration of the war. Though the assembly at large decided against it, many a professional criminal went out and signed up for the army - used to form the penal battalions which would "wipe away their shame with blood". Their own blood, for the most part, as the penal battalions would naturally be used to attack the most dangerous spots, and would be shot if they tried to run. Still, quite a few survived and even prospered - apparently some criminal skills and luck actually made them into exemplary fighting men. After the end of the war, these (often highly decorated) veterans weren't really trained in a proper profession (and of course, many of them had no desire to work for a living regardless), and soon wound up right back in jail. This marked the beginning of the "bitch" wars, where the "honest" thief population eventually exterminated the "traitors".
Guess what broke down in the 90's? If you've been following my posts, you'll know that the answer is "everything". The criminal code included. You can't have an organized crime... err... organization... if you're not cooperating with the state. You can't call yourself "a legitimate businessman" if you can't even pretend to be an honest worker. You can't maintain a disdain for murder when contract killings are the usual way of settling business disagreements. A great many of the New Russians who rose to short prominence were bright university kids who cooperated with or employed former military or security personnel (all anathema to the old-schoolers) and made cash hand over fist (for the short time they had at the top before a rival disposed of them). Being a "frozen" criminal who utterly disregarded the old ways and killed indiscriminately was the shortest path to success.
Though the wild days of the 90's are behind us, and most of the criminal class from that days are resting in their graves / parliament seats, I doubt that the code will ever be reestablished in a meaningful way. It's far too restrictive, even for the new authoritarian Russia.
Ensign Expendable posted:
All that, and not a single New Russian joke? I am disappointed.
The New Russians are stereotypically represented as people with more money than sense. They suddenly came into their fortunes, and have no idea what to do with them, so various anecdotes tend to be about them buying gold chains, garish clothes, cars (they favour the "Mercedes 600"), and various overpriced Western doodads. All in dollars, of course.
Now their children, these are the ones with business sense.
I remember that the Pavel Lungin film "Oligarkh" had one such joke. It went something like this:
One New Russian shows his new tie to another:
- See this tie? I paid 3000 dollars for it.
- You got scammed. I saw them offering an identical one for 5000.
On Russian movies:
Speaking of russian criminals and movies, has any of you seen Zhmurki? (Dead Man's Bluff in english)
It takes place in the russian underworld in the early nineties, after the fall of the Soviet union. I enjoyed it a lot, even though much of the references to russian 90's action movies as well as the apparent all-star cast is lost one me. I would love if someone could elaborate a bit on this. It's also by far the most brutal and gruesome movie I've ever seen listed as a "comedy" on IMBd.
Something you probably didn't know about the Soviet Union (part whatever): Subbotniks
The very first Subbotniks (Sabbath...niks.) took place when ideologically driven railway workers resolved to put in extra volunteer work on their day off, until the Civil War ends with the crushing victory of the Red Army. A number of equally committed workers in other vital industries have copied their example, and it wasn't long before Vladimir Ilyich was writing a passionate essay on "The Great Undertaking" as the precursor of true communism, and organizing Subbotniks to clear the rabble around the Kermlin (literal, not metaphorical, obviously).
(Grandpa Lenin helps the workers carry a log to/from the Kremlin. Ilyich would occasionally a carry a log all on his own - but according to knowing people, that was a special, inflatable log.)
With that fine example firmly in place, Subbotniks quickly became ubiquitous. Since the average citizen was, sadly, not quite as ideologically omitted and eager to volunteer his free time for the task of workplace / living quarters improvement as Lenin and his railroad crew (check out their upcoming album on Lighthouse radio), Subbotniks quickly became a stable of "involuntary volunteering" (volens nolens, for the academically minded among you).
I've been told that this concept - "добровольно принудительно" - is hard to explain to people who didn't grow up in Soviet Russia (or one of the neighboring countries that were kindly invited to participate in the grand experiment). Ostensibly voluntary, you would suffer all sorts of unofficial repercussions if you couldn't produce a convincing excuse for your lack of participation - at the end of the day, if the higher ups don't take any steps, the collective itself is not fond of individuals who think too highly of themselves. The Russian saying here is "do you think you're the smartest? That you deserve more than everyone else?" As you can see, Subbotniks were communist precursors to modern team building exercises.
So, what actually happens during a Subbotnik? General community improvement activities - clean, paint, mend, move, plant etc. You were only volunteered so often if you were a gainfully employed adult (and of course, the Soviet regime made great efforts to ensure that no one had a chance to laze around without working for a living). As a highschool / university student, you'd be encouraged to spend your free months helping with the harvest. As an elementary student, you'd be going door to door, soliciting paper recyclables (only 50 pounds of "makulatura" for a Jule Verne book)
I can't quite find a lovely satirical clip of a comedian troop trying to encourage Putin's supporters to organize a Subbotnik to clean up after their meeting / volunteer to help with the harvest, but I've been told that there's unofficial encouragement to restart the practice taking place as we speak - so as ever in Russian, satire can't compete with how absurd reality gets.
On the difficult gameplay of KGB:
I liked this game when I played it, even though I needed a walkthrough at a couple points. I think it shows a step on a path that adventure games didn't take; we can look back and see where Sierra, Lucas Arts, and all the rest went and eventually laid down to die and also the smaller studio games that branched off a bit with ideas that didn't take off then but seem a larger part of the resurgence of the adventure genre now.
To me it always seemed like the mainstream of adventure games all had the same gameplay - it didn't matter if you were King Graham or Guybrush Threepwood or Leisure Suit Larry, you'd always be scrounging for shit to grab and then waving it around until the game progresses. It's not automatically a bad way to go but it means that making the game a fun experience rests almost entirely on the atmosphere, the theme, the internal consistency of the game, and the writing. When those are lacking or the well just runs dry in a series, they all branched out into better graphics or voice acting, or being 'interactive movies' and eventually collapsed into a moribund joke of a genre.
And then there's games like this, and to a greater extent games like Quest for Glory and the like, where the role you're playing changes the gameplay around dramatically. The puzzle to solve is that you need to meet with Hollywood, and along the way you'll be scrounging up a clipboard to get into an apartment to go through dialogue puzzles, but then it's important to remember you're a KGB agent and that it's not just a matter of finding things to use or saying the right things; you'll have to kill thugs and keep your knowledge of the secret notes a secret and, above all, make it look good to your superiors. I think this game has a lot of problems from the bad old days of game design, and those pop up a lot thicker and faster later on, but it's still a neat game that did something very different from a lot of others in the same genre.
Ah, I love the feedback you get here about your suspect attitude.
WendyO: Again, sorry to sound like a broken record, but the deciding influence is from text adventures (or as they are called nowadays, interactive fiction), here. That path for adventure games that you are rightly lamenting they didn't take was actually explored quite a bit in the pre-graphical days. I can't remember any spy games right now, but there certainly were a lot of private investigation ones, where you had to have figured out what was going on and to be at the right place on the right time, or you were walking dead, a la KGB. So you could play some of the Infocom classics for more of this sort of thing!
Often IF players lament the move to point n' click graphics and call them 'pointless clickery' exactly because these latter games had puzzles you could brute force by clicking everything on everything until you found the one solution that worked. The one solution the development team could afford to create the assets for. Those IF players would have no such complaints about KGB, where (almost) everything the player does must be according to some preconceived plan and there's even variable, sub-optimal ways to achieve success.
I think the main reason we didn't see a lot of that in the graphical point n' clicker days of the genre was twofold. On one hand yes, they're very difficult and require the player to wrap their mind around a completely different way of playing than either the winning Sierra or LEC paradigm. On the other hand, it's a matter of creative/programming limitations. If you play KGB you'll notice there is little to no animation. Characters enter and exit rooms via a weird rectangular form that puts their picture in and out of the background. When you want to use the verb HIDE, you get that weird icon of yourself hiding, you don't actually get your sprite walking up there and hiding behind a door or anything. When you drag a body from one screen to the next, it's again highly abstracted, that sort of thing. Portraying highly variable and dynamic situations and play-spaces is obviously not the strong suit for a graphical adventure game, at least one not designed by a small team. But it's considerably easier to do with a pure text UI.
Graphical adventure games were the AAA titles of their time. They had gorgeous graphics and animations and stories and characters, that's how they got their audience, that's how they sold computers, VGA cards and soundblasters, not with clever puzzles and adult themes. It's no wonder the evolutionary branch of KGB became vestigial. Even in our modern times with the adventure game resurgence there's very few adult themes in the new crop of games and there's certainly no dynamic systems and ruthless walking deads like KGB's.
This is awesome, but also kind of thought-provoking that the game does very little hand-holding but demands near perfection. The only modern games I can think of that allow for that much foresight are the Hitman series but you can at least strongarm those when they go belly up. Games just don't offer this depth of failure anymore but what was dumbed down first, the games or us?
Repeated failure can be very disheartening - unless the developers really know what they're doing, it can swiftly leach all the fun out of the game. I think that's why I never got very far in this game when I had it as a kid; I couldn't see where I was going wrong and didn't have the patience for endless trial-and-error. That's why games like Monkey Island left behind the die-a-million-times philosophy of the old Sierra adventures, and I can only see that as an improvement to the fun of the game rather than a dumbing down.
Things have been dumbed down for the console generation, of course - or at least, very much streamlined. I think changing demographics are the reason for this - you have more adult gamers these days (those of us who were kids back in the 80s), who have much more disposable income than they used to but much less free time to really dig in to a deep, involved game.
Old Sierra-type adventure games were less about "what's my goal and how do I get to it" and more about "what exact sequence of actions does the developer want me to take?" Hitman as an example has several completely valid ways to do each level. You have to kill your target, but you can use poison (either direct injection or on something consumable), shoot your target with a sniper rifle from a distance, lure them into a room and strangle them, or just charge into the level and kill everyone to death with your guns. Adventure games, you get one path, and you will frequently find yourself in unwinnable situations with no indication that you've done anything wrong. That's just how games were back then. Budgets were a lot smaller and metrics of what would sell and what wouldn't were limited by the lack of data sets.
Despite that, older adventure games are awesome fun. The penalty for screwing up is that you have to do it again, but properly. You learn. Newer games, go from point A to point B to point C etc. etc. until the developer has told their story.
The best adventure game marriage I've seen of old-school punishment and new-school playability was The Last Express, which simulates real time as KGB/Conspiracy does, but let you rewind time to any point in the game's three-day timeframe. The player could proactively use it to try different approaches to puzzles, or buy more time to explore and check out all the flavor text - but in the event of a game over, it automatically rewound things to the last point where you could still change events for the better. Whether you bungled a quick time event or made the game unwinnable a day earlier there was no such thing as a doomed save.
Neat game altogether, heavy on period accuracy and political intrigue and Russian folklore and also LPed to completion very recently.
On French comics:
Those paintings reminded me of a comic book from roughly the same era as the game. The long-running French comic Spirou et Fantasio has an album first published in 1990 where the heroes become involved in intrigue in late Soviet Moscow.
Many of their comics do, for example Soda: it was written by the same guy who wrote the above (Tomé), but illustrated by different artists who still have a fairly similar style to Janry.
Another page, to illustrate the "creative" use of random Russian words:
Character chart (spoilers)
After marathoning this thread I decided to make a thing.
There didn't seem like much point putting the Chapter 4 characters in as we barely know anything about them yet and we're likely to know a lot more in a few updates time. I kind of got bored towards the end and it shows a bit, but still someone was requesting a character chart.
Oh and the 'Retro' look is not because I'm an idiot who has no sense of style, but because I'm evoking the era of the game. Or at least that's what I tell myself.
End-game chat (spoilers, obviously)
Bobbin Threadbare posted:
They brought Protopopov into the Rogov Institute simply to check on his programming, but then the nurse alerted the Pamyat, the neo-czarist fascist group that owns the gallery, and they stole the fake Gorbachev for their own use. Apparently Rukov's handler was a member of the fascists, but Volvov, the other guy who confronts you, was a double agent and a hard-line communist.
From what I can tell, the reason everything gets confusing is because there are no fewer than four factions involved: there's the moderate government represented by Rukov and his uncle, the left-wing communists who brainwashed Protopopov as part of their coup attempt on the government, the right-wing Pamyat whose KGB contacts alerted them to Protopopov and had him kidnapped, and the gangsters who were set by Pamyat to act as a distraction. However, once Protopopov is kidnapped, the communists decide to go ahead without him, leaving Volvov to eliminate the fake Gorbachev and anyone who knows about him.
You really should have, though. Why else would I ask something as leading as "how many updates do you think are left"?
Huh. A bit of googling tells me that the artwork for this run of the comic was done by someone who hasn't really worked on anything else. I guess that's just the popular comic style in France and there's where I remember the art style from?
I'll save most of my explanations for the update, but Pamyat aren't actually monarchist. No one really is/was, it's just that whitewashing that piece of shit was an unfortunately major part of the anti-communist backlash. Volvov is in fact a triple agent.
"left wing communists"
You don't say
I know you probably know this, Xander, but just in case there's someone reading who isn't into soviet history, it's not as nonsensical as it seems at first glance. Even during Stalin there were factions. In one famous example, I believe from the first purge, he had those who opposed Lenin's New Economic Policy or NEP shot (that would be the "left wing" of the regime, those in favour of total centralization and no free market at all) and then he had those who favored NEP shot (that would be the "right wing" of the regime, ie. those who were for a very modest economic liberalization).
In this case, "left wing communists", even if it's a term I wouldn't use, refers to those who opposed perestroika. I'd have said hard-line communist. But the effect is the same.
Once again, thanks to everyone who contributed. These are far from the only interesting posts from the thread, so read it if you can.
Special thanks to Ensign Expendable, Kopijeger, and especially Xander77, for their in-depth knowledge of Russia, and the Soviet Union in general. Thanks to Elite for the cool character chart. Finally, another big thanks to Xander77 for stepping in and finishing the LP after a long hiatus.