Part 17: Charitable Publicity
Chapter 17: Charitable Publicity
The rally for the Antonov's mayoral election, alongside the simultaneous exposures of Karyakin and Stepanov, ensured he would be elected. With politics taken care of for the moment, Prokofiev had time to finally complete what he had set out to do since he arrived in Pugachev: begin their massive charity trust.
Oleg Baturin found that Pugachev's Grand Theater owner, Yuri Kempinov, was willing to use his venue to hold a fundraising dinner. After all, the Coalition would need to pull in socialites, men of wealth with a cause, and more media exposure, so an influential theater would serve wonders for publicity. Prokofiev liaisoned with Kempinov and then held the planned fundraiser there. The reclusive millionaire Anton Kamensky, famous for his blends of pickled fish, decided to loan his backing. Balancing politics, charity, and inter-faction fighting would be a challenge for Prokofiev, especially when his inner circle's rifts began to widen...
* * *
: I'll be damned, Piotr, you know how to deliver a good speech!
: I must admit you do have a way with words, Mr. Prokofiev.
: Ah, thanks guys. It's not so hard when you just speak your mind.
: And hide the displeasing facts, right?
: Shut up, Lavanov.
: Although, Mr. Prokofiev, are you sure it's wise to step out like this?
: What do you mean?
: Remember what happened to Artem Churbanov, or even Robert Tarasov, back in Ekaterine? Those poor men were thrown in jail for a lot less than what you did.
: Hey, Oleg, don't go getting morbid, now.
: I'm just voicing the possibility, Mr. Nasarov. I don't understand why Karasov's men or anyone else hasn't bothered to make a move on us yet, especially on you, Mr. Prokofiev.
: I don't know myself, Father. I'll admit that sometimes I wonder if I'm being scoped out by a sniper, but so far, the only form of interference we've had was police trouble early on.
: Sir, if I may?
: What is it, Churnyeav?
: I heard some special news of what happened in Ekaterine. The Democracy Now Party was also pretty popular here in Pugachev, a lot of moreso than Organized Anarchy.
: What happened, jarhead?
: Listen, pipsqueak, and you might learn something. Karasov sent in Alpha Squads all over the nation to utterly crush the DNP. I think, though, that the move left him really weakened back in Berezina.
: So what are you saying?
: What I'm saying, Nasarov, is that Karasov overreached. He spent a lot of money and pulled a lot of strings to green light that operation. He's not going to be able to do anything like that again for at least another couple of months.
: Isn't it just easier to send in a hitman and do the dirty work?
: Yes, but it would involve finding the people to kill in the first place. Which is where YOU come in, you hack.
: Ah, what is it now, briefs?
: You know where we live. You're a damned liability.
: Hey now, that hurts my feelings, camo-boy. I always look out for number one, but I don't go selling out a life.
: Sometimes I wonder about that.
: Oh, union-man, please.
: Sir, I propose a little rearrangement. Kick out this scumbag.
: What? Hey!
: Nothing personal, maggot, we're just not too trusting of you right now.
: Actually, Piotr, that may not be a bad idea.
: Union-man, I know I deserve the commissar's hate, but yours? You're breaking my heart.
: Truth be told, I don't have that much of a problem with Mr. Lavanov...
: Father, your problem is that you're just too forgiving.
: C'mon, sir, get this asshole out of our collective sight! He's dangerous and he's just plain annoying!
: That's enough! Lavanov is not going anywhere.
: Well, I never expected YOU to come to my rescue, taskmaster.
: I'll say this only once. I do not agree with what Lavanov says, but he's useful to our movement... even if he is an idiot.
: Why, thank you for the refreshing honesty! It's like a minty breath of fresh air in the mountains of-
: Can it, Lavanov. I am not your friend, and I'm not doing this because I like you. I'm doing this because you've proven you can do what I expected you were able to do.
: Piotr, I can understand Churbanov, but this man? What are you thinking?
: I'm thinking about our continued survival. Now let's drop this. Lavanov stays with us until I say otherwise, got it?
: You're making a big mistake, Prokofiev.
: That's my call to make, Churnyeav. Enough. Father Baturin, it's about time we began the charity trust.
: Ah, yes! Well, what we need to do is get in touch with Yuri Kempinov.
: Who is that?
: Mr. Kempinov is the owner of the Grand Theater here in Pugachev. Can you imagine it, Mr. Prokofiev? Holding a fundraising dinner to get our big charity underway... it'll be like my work has grown exponentially!
: Now now, robes, don't get excited about all of this altruism. It's making me queasy.
: Mr. Lavanov, it's men like you that give Novistranans a bad name. I suggest you don't try my patience further. Now, Mr. Prokofiev, you need to get in contact with Mr. Kempinov. Convince him to let us hold the dinner there, and we'll be set!
: Hmm... Very well. I'll speak to him tonight.
: First the casino, then getting this Lavanov on board, and now sucking up to the rich. I don't like where this is going...
: You and me both, Nasarov. You and me both.
* * *
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Yuri Kempinov: Celebrity
Yuri Kempinov is a theater entrepreneur. He kick-started his career through owning an upmarket dancing club and progressed to a theater running follies. Now he has hit the big time with the celebrated Grand Theatre in Pugachev, which showcases Shakespeare, Mozard operas, modern dance and ballet.
* * *
The Novistranan National Archive - Pugachev Post Article on Charity Trust Fundraising Dinner: 21/03/1996
GRAND THEATER HOSTS FUNDRAISING DINNER FOR NOVISTRANAN COALITION CHARITY TRUST
In a great gala that rocked the socialite world of Pugachev, Yuri Kempinov hosted the fundraising dinner for the Novistranan Coalition's charity trust in his Grand Theater last night. The entrepreneur Kempinov, known for his love of the arts and of social causes, had met with the Coalition's leader, Piotr Prokofiev, two days ago to discuss the details of the fundraiser.
"Mr. Prokofiev is a man of vision, and a man who truly cares for the impoverished of Pugachev," Kempinov told our Post representative last night amidst the festivities. "He convinced me that the less fortunate amongst us deserve dignity and basic creature comforts that most of us take for granted."
Present in the fundraising dinner was Father Oleg Baturin, a priest from Ekaterine that spearheaded the charity trust's details and set up smaller charity works around the city in the past weeks in preparation.
"The poor of Pugachev are Novistrana's forgotten people and God's lost children," Father Baturin told us. "I've spent my life in Ekaterine performing charity works in my local neighborhood, and I always wished to expand my operations to help more people in need. Mr. Prokofiev and the Novistranan Coalition have allowed my dreams to come true. Now, my wish is to carry this trust throughout all of Novistrana!"
Grigorii Antonov, the newly-elected Mayor of Pugachev, was also present in the fundraising dinner. One of the early arrivals to the gala, he made a great show of support for Prokofiev, who earlier this week had held a massive rally outside City Hall to express his support for the retired policeman's candidacy.
We asked Prokofiev for his thoughts on the fundraising dinner and the charity trust he had begun for the people of Pugachev.
"Mr. Kempinov understands what everyone in Novistrana should someday hope to learn," the revolutionary, flanked by a large union leader and retired army soldier, explained when the party was in full swing. "The poor and the working class of this great nation are its strength. The way a people treat their poor shows their character, and I believe that those who work the hardest deserve the most attention. I am glad that so many men and women of leisure understand this as well."
The fundraising dinner was a great success. Prokofiev spent much of his time welcoming guests, including Vladmir Lukyanov and Vasily Sonich, two influential investors who have recently made their fortunes in the oil refineries in Pugachev, Kazalinsk, and newly-drilled oil wells in the south of Novistrana.
Plates in the fundraising dinner were priced as high as NR2000, but Prokofiev assured us that it was "all for a good cause". Despite the hefty price tags, many of the visitors paid for a handsome meal and even ordered seconds. To quote Oleg Rublevsky, a board member of NoviBank, "This is probably the most meaningful thing I've done in the past five years."
* * *
Memos to Piotr Prokofiev: Anton Kamensky's Request: 21/03/1996
To Piotr Prokofiev of the Novistranan Coalition,
You may not know of me, but I know of you, Mr. Prokofiev. I have followed your recent activities after your rally supporting Mr. Antonov, and this fundraising dinner has truly put you in the spotlight.
Your recent charitable works have come to my attention. I would like to become the patron of your worthy charity and help you set up a charitable trust. Please arrange a meeting with me in Pugachev Fields so that we can sort out the details.
Also, please send my well-wishes for Father Oleg Baturin. Men like those warm my heart and make me believe that the truly saintly are amongst us.
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Seventieth Entry: 21/03/1996
The fundraising dinner was a true success, and Father Baturin's charity plan is working without a hitch. Perhaps the choice I made to follow the path of charity represents the kind of change this nation needs, a revolution of kind words with the muscle of the working class? I don't doubt the effectiveness of playing to the public's sentiment for kindness, but perhaps this is a one-off... I will have to keep my options open.
This Anton Kamensky may be useful for us. My preliminary investigations show he is a rich man who has made his fortune in foods, but is he worth my time? No matter. He says he wants to be a patron to our cause, so I must meet him anyway. Having a non-faction backer will mean legitimacy and no risk to the charity being shut down by that pig Karasov.
* * *
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Anton Kamensky: Business
Anton Kamensky made his fortune buying the cheapest fish, mincing it up and pickling it in his own unique blend of vinegar and spices. The 'Kamensky Chopped Fish' and 'Kamensky Pickled Fish' ranges made him very rich indeed. Now he rarely leaves his mansion and devotes his time to helping those less fortunate than himself.
* * *
The clean and swept streets of Pugachev Fields reflected the sunlight back into Prokofiev's eyes relaxingly. Glancing at the roads made them appear as if they had small studded diamonds in the concrete, such was their shine. This thought remained oddly fixated in Prokofiev's mind as he approached Anton Kamensky, the reclusive millionaire.
The investigations showed that Kamensky was really what he appeared to be: a wealthy man that donated vast sums of money to the poor. All of the charities and causes he supported had no ulterior motive, so at least the man researched the history of who was getting his money.
When he approached Kamensky, Prokofiev smiled and gave the gentleman a small wave, which was reciprocated. They took a seat at the nearby bench, exchanging pleasantries. Kamensky put down a small picnic basket he was carrying on the ground.
"Mr. Prokofiev," the millionaire's eyes glinted like the street's diamonds, "I'm glad you were able to meet me so rapidly. I sent out that memo not two hours ago."
"The importance of the charity is of great concern to me, Mr. Kamensky," Prokofiev nodded. "Your memo and your kind words only sped the process."
"It makes me happy to hear that. Patronage of such charities are more than a hobby to me," Kamensky smiled.
"If that's the case, we may be able to talk charity business," Prokofiev said. "The fundraiser was great for getting the money started, but without constant support and a nice face to put on things, I'm afraid our charity won't survive long in Pugachev."
"Because of your desire to overthrow Karasov?" asked Kamensky calmly.
Prokofiev froze. He didn't expect Kamensky to throw it out there so... overtly.
"Well... yes," he admitted after a few moments. "I hope that what we're doing doesn't throw you off?"
"Mr. Prokofiev, I'm not a fool," Kamensky chided lightheartedly. For a recluse, he sure had a calming presence to him. "Your rallies, your goals, your movements on the streets... It's clear to anyone that you seek power, but for a good cause."
"Do you support us?" asked Prokofiev, deciding to be open.
"To be frank, your platform worries me," Kamensky admitted. "I don't like hearing about how the 'bourgeois elite' is going to meet a grim end in Novistrana's new worker's paradise. I am, after all, part of that group."
"In revolutions, there are always exceptions," Prokofiev said diplomatically. "I head the Novistranan Coalition, not the Novistranan Marxist Party."
"All that talk of bloody revolution and harassing the rich aside, though, I must admit your heart's in the right place," Kamensky said, patting his stomach and looking at the street thoughtfully. He remained silently for a time, then continued. "I've made my wealth through my own talents. I do not owe Karasov or his friends any favors, and I certainly did not need anyone else looking out for me.
"That said," Kamensky continued, facing Prokofiev again, "I believe that I am the luckiest man in Novistrana for being in the right place at the right time. I don't believe for a second that I got here by right. If I was anyone else, chances are I'd be in the streets right now, begging for alms."
"Is that why you donate your money?" Prokofiev probed.
"That's right," nodded the recluse. "There are many unfortunate Novistranans out there who do not know the comfort of a warm bed or a hot meal. I provide what I can. I would have wished someone to do the same if it were me."
"You've got a good heart in you," Prokofiev said honestly. "It's rare to see a man of your status actually worry about those beneath them."
"I could say the same of you, Mr. Prokofiev," Kamensky smiled again, his eyes searching, yet oddly distant. "Pugachev is a dirty city, but you decided to win their hearts rather than conquer them through fear. It says a lot about you and what you stand for."
"Thank you, Mr. Kamensky," the revolutionary said, reciprocating the smile. "I believe I can accept you as our charity's main patron."
Kamensky picked up and patted the small picnic basket he had come with, and then uncovered the blanket. Inside were three jars of his signature pickled and chopped fish.
"These made my fortune, and I wish it to make other people's fortune as well," Kamensky said, handing the basket to Prokofiev. "Take them as a token of my appreciation... as well as the check beneath them."
"Thank you again," Prokofiev said, getting up with the millionaire. "We will discuss further details over the next few days."
The two men exchanged a hug. "I will be donating what I can as long as I can," Kamensky said as they broke apart, "but I want to have regular meetings with you to discuss my contributions and how the money should be spent. Is that fair?"
"It is, comrade," Prokofiev said, shaking Kamensky's hand. "I will see you soon."
The two men then parted ways.
* * *
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Seventy-first Entry: 21/03/1996
Anton Kamensky has proven to be a rare example of a good wealthy bourgeois. He has made his fortune without requiring the oppression of the people, and instead of using his vast wealth to increase it tenfold, he returns part of it to the people. Despite his desire to remain wealthy and hidden in his home, I can respect the man for his beliefs in charitable causes. I will make an effort to maintain him in touch.
Antovon's election is a good sign, and his promises to support us are being met so far. He wrote to tell me that he has something of interest for us to take care of, and that it is directly related to our struggle. He will give me the details tomorrow. Hopefully it will be a way to wipe out the Red Mafiya and the other factions off the political map.
Josef is starting to worry me. He has been voicing displeasure at keeping Lavanov around, and while I can't blame him, he is also taking issue with how quickly I'm willing to fall in with any wealthy Novistranan wanting to help us. I've tried to explain that we must use whatever edge we can over our competition, but he claims that I may be distancing myself from what the workers stand for. Considering the casino's operations in Ekaterine and now our massive charity trust funded by the monied elite, he may have a point, but we've come too far to stop now.