Part 21: Class Struggle
Chapter 21: Class Struggle
The inner rift in the Novistranan Coalition kept growing, and a tremendously tense period passed during the time that Prokofiev and the Coalition hid all three accused celebrities from the media. Prokofiev had decided to trick all three of them, determined to solidify the charity and ensure that it was completely foolproof. Nasarov, his right-hand man and lifelong comrade, saw this path as leading to destroying the movement's original vision once compounded with the casino ploy and maintaining men like Churbanov and Lavanov in positions of power.
Nasarov disappeared for five entire days, unable to be reached by Prokofiev or his other three men. Churnyeav was suspected of aiding Nasarov in his hiding, but he remained at Prokofiev's side regardless of the unionizer's absence. During these five days, Prokofiev, Lavanov, and Baturin focused on keeping the celebrity safe houses hidden and misdirecting the media so they would not find the celebrities. They also took the time to renegotiate the contract with Anton Kamensky and set up the proper venue for the endorsement celebrations.
The celebrities eventually emerged unscathed, and all three were eager to repay the favor. Prokofiev obtained their endorsements in a grand gala at the Grand Hotel in Laika Common, and Baturin's charity trust was finally finished, winning the hearts and minds of many Pugachev citizens. However, the cost of such charity would be very high...
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Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Seventy-ninth Entry: 24/03/1996
I have always believed that we should fight for the impossible so that the possible is more than we demanded. Lavanov's suggestion for taking all three celebrities under our wing sounds difficult, but we are prepared for it. I had set up three safe houses for the sake of convenience depending on who we chose, but now I see that we can make our dreams for the charity a reality. I will take the risk and blackmail all three of them.
Not that they don't deserve it, considering who they are. They're merely a means to an end, and I can live with their dirty pasts so long they keep a clean face for the charity. I will need to spend today hiding all three of them, and it'll likely take all day to make sure they're well-hidden and camouflaged. I already let Lavanov alert his friends in the papers and the television stations to the latest gossip, so we'll need to be subtle, quick, and precise.
But it's still not enough. Normally, a safe house alone would be sufficient, but considering the nature of the celebrities and their secrets, there's the risk of a random passer-by spotting the safe house by chance and sending the media crashing down on the three men. I need to enforce a code of silence, have Lavanov pay off the right people to keep silent, and have Father Baturin cover up any physical evidence of our presence. If everything works out as planned, I'll have Bogdanov, Volkov, and Hazard eating out of my hands.
Josef did not return last night. Churnyeav also stayed away, even though he did talk to me over the phone about Bogdanov. Once everything is in place and we're good to go, I'll need to speak to both of them.
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The Novistranan National Archive - Pugachev Post Article on Celebrity Rumors and Whereabouts: 25/03/1996
CELEBRITY VANISHING ACT: STARS DISAPPEAR AMIDST DEFAMING RUMORS
In a bizarre coincidence, the Novistranan superstars Dieter Hazard, Danilov Bogdanov, and Stepan Volkov have all disappeared from the public eye in Pugachev yesterday. Following rumors and anonymous tips that we received on each celebrity, the Pugachev Post attempted to reach each the three stars for comment, but all were unavailable.
Danilov Bogdanov was the first to drop off the radar. Missing his daily training with the Pugachev Dynamos, he was last seen entering a black limousine. It is unknown where he was dropped off or what his destination was, but the rumor that caused him to drop out of sight was that his relationship with Anna Bogdanov, his wife, was strained and bitter rather than what we hear. We do not care about such base tabloid fodder, however. We only seek the truth.
The next celebrity to take off was Stepan Volkov, the famed singer of Novistrana. Dubbed the "voice of gold" by Eastern European record execs, Volkov was nowhere to be found when a vicious accusation arose stating that his golden voice was, in fact, gilded. If this is true, then it's likely that he will drop out of fame and be seen as a charlatan who has been pulling the wool over the eyes of thousands of fans.
Lastly, Dieter Hazard, the younger brother of the Hazard Bros. dance group, was accused of continuing to be the party boy he has been condemned of before. Young Dieter had claimed to have sobered up following the incident in Gorkiprov where he caused over NR50000 in property damage during a particularly wild party in which high-stakes gambling occurred, but according to what we've heard, he still has a few issues to work out. His image could suffer should these rumors be true. Like the others, he too disappeared and could not be reached for comment.
While the three stars' handlers assured us that everything is all right, we must ask: Why did each celebrity run off? How did these rumors and evidence surface? Is there a connection between the three celebrities disappearing in one day, one after another? We ask the questions, and we seek the answers. We will diligently follow this story so that we can report the truth!
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Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Eighty-fifth Entry: 28/03/1996
We have kept the three celebrities out of sight for four days now and kept up the misinformation to confuse the press. It would have been safe to let them out and hold the gala yesterday or today, but Anton Kamensky decided to renegotiate our contract and check up on things.
I spoke with him at length tonight, talking about our plans for the charity and how the endorsements would mean that he wouldn't have to support our entire charity as its sole patron. He took this well, and asked if he could be included in the gala's ceremonies as an absent guest of honor. Apparently he has no time or inclination to step out of his mansion any time soon.
I told him that everything was in place, and that if he so wished he could definitely have an honorable mention and indication of sponsorship in the gala itself. During dessert I tried to convince him to lend us more money for the charity, but he refused, claiming that he wished to see how the endorsements turned out before putting larger donations for the charity. That's fair enough, I suppose.
Josef is still missing. I haven't heard a single thing about him. It seems he either doesn't want to be found, or he wishes to think things through without being interrupted by anyone from the Coalition. Everyone met me with a stony face and silent lips whenever I went around asking about him. I think he's also running his own code of silence with his union friends. Churnyeav has also been absent, meeting us only twice these last four days. He's still been doing as we asked, but he seems distant, thoughtful.
I am holding the celebrity endorsement party tomorrow. With any luck, I'll hear about Josef there.
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The Novistranan National Archive - Pugachev Post Article on Celebrity Endorsement for Charity Trust: 29/03/1996
NOVISTRANAN SUPERSTARS SHINE THEIR LIGHT ON UNDERGROUND FACTION'S CHARITY TRUST
In a grand gala this morning at the Grand Hotel in Laika Common, three Novistranan superstars have reappeared and declared their support and endorsements of the Novistranan Coalition's charity trust. Danilov Bogdanov, the football star, Dieter Hazard, techno musician, and Stepan Volkov, Novistrana's swooning singer, have all graced the gala with their presence.
The whereabouts of the three celebrities up until the gala have been unknown. They decided to visit Pugachev to party, celebrate, and perform, but following rumors and murmurs of dirty deeds, the three celebrities had apparently gone into hiding. After spending a few days searching, the Pugachev Post is proud to set the record straight. The three celebrities in mention have no secrets they wish hidden other than their private lives, and according to the three celebrities' representatives, they have not gone "into hiding", but rather retreated to plan for their future appearances and rest.
Bogdanov, the football darling of Novistrana, was the first guest to arrive at the party. His wife Anna could sadly not be in attendance, and when asked about his whereabouts during the past few days where he missed his training sessions with the Pugachev Dynamos, he stated, "I hurt my knee the other day during my personal practice, y'know. I had to sit back, take a break, and rest up." Bogdanov was gracious with the press, showed off his moves, and was the first of the three stars to sign the charity endorsement, claiming that "this one is for the kids who dream".
Dieter Hazard, younger brother of the Hazard Bros., arrived thirty minutes later, accompanied only by his fair date, Marfa Limonova. Hazard was in great spirits, declaring that shortly after arriving in Pugachev, inspiration for a new song had struck him and he retreated to work alongside his brother on a new hit single, "Kickback Charity Five". This would certainly explain his absence from the tour scene, and Hazard told his fans to "wait and see our awesome new groove that's, like, totally social-minded and all".
The last guest to grace the charity was Stepan Volkov. The suave crooner, still popular with the middle-aged of Novistrana and single moms everywhere, was ashamed that he had to cancel so many of his live performances at the Grand Theater. "I know how many people look up to me and were waiting to hear me sing my heart out, but I got caught up with a mixture of acid reflux injuries and a family emergency." Volkov promised that he would return to Pugachev at the end of his tour and sing once more for free, but that for now he could make up for his canceled tour by donating 75% of all future tour proceeds to the Coalition's charity.
Piotr Prokofiev, the popular leader of the Novistranan Coalition, attended the charity event with Father Baturin, the lead supervisor and head of the charity trust. The two men were gracious and greeted every celebrity and guest to the gala in person. Baturin expressed great thanks for all of the endorsements, claiming that the money would be used for good causes and that he would not tarnish the reputation of any donors involved. Prokofiev decided to make a statement for the press shortly before the event kicked off.
"Pugachev has a reputation for being a city of corruption, crime, and strife, and I think that is unfair," Prokofiev stated firmly. "I believe that the people of Pugachev have a great compassion to them, more than they realize, for allowing us and even supporting us to hold such a large charity for the poor. The current government has done little to help its people, and I think Novistranans everywhere should take matters into their own hands and help their neighbors where the government does not. The people of Pugachev will lead by example, and today, people of great importance have agreed that Pugachev is, as Mr. Dieter Hazard put it earlier, 'where it's at'."
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This must be it, Prokofiev thought, tapping the phone keys on his cell phone according to the number on his notepad. He hoped the information he had been given in the gala was right, and he was excited to finally share the news.
"Josef? Josef, is that you?" Prokofiev asked when a deep, gruff voice picked up the call.
"Oh, Piotr, it's you!" Nasarov said with a tone of surprise. "What can I do for you?"
"Aw, come on, is that all you have to say to your old friend after being gone for five days?" Prokofiev laughed, happy to hear his friend's voice. "I was so damned worried about you, comrade! You weren't easy to track down, I'm telling you!"
"Maybe that's because I didn't want to be found," Nasarov replied coldly.
"I've done it, Josef," Prokofiev said proudly, not even hearing Josef's answer. "I got all three celebrities to sign the dotted line. Hazard, Bogdanov, and even Volkov all joined us."
"You... went after all three of them?" Nasarov asked incredulously.
"Yes, I made sure that all of them donate for the charity," Prokofiev said. "They have all agreed to endorse us. We've succeeded! It's over, the charity trust is complete!"
"You... You capitalist!" the deep growl of Nasarov's voice erupted like gravel being crushed. "How can you sit there and tell me with a straight face that it's for the charity?"
"One would have probably been enough and two would definitely be pushing it, but all three?" Nasarov interrupted, shouting now. "You make me sick!"
"I'm not keeping the money, with all three we can-"
"No! No! I refuse to listen to you any longer! I was right," hissed Nasarov angrily. "It's clear to me that you let your greed take over what you believe. You sold out and became what we hated. Not only did you do that, you also tried to rope in some of Karasov's men to your side!"
"What are you talking about?" Prokofiev demanded, his mind racing to wrap around what Nasarov was saying and accusing him of. "Josef, listen to me!"
"Do you know what I've been doing these past few days?" continued Nasarov, his rage and anger replaced with a deep sorrow. "While you've been so busy keeping those vultures in the radio towers and press hats running in circles so your precious celebrity roubles were safe and sound, I've been rallying the people to realize who really matters: them. Piotr, I have formed a party of my own, and I've taken the people that still believe in our goal of a worker's paradise."
"Josef...! What have you done?" Prokofiev despaired, clutching the phone with both hands.
"I'm sorry, Piotr. The New Peace Party is my home now, and Boris agrees with me," Nasarov answered, his voice carrying a tired, fatigued sadness. "We will carry the revolution our own way. Keep your celebrities, your charity, and your plotting with Lavanov and Father Oleg. We, the people, do not need you any longer. I'm sorry. You were a loyal friend, but this is goodbye."
And with that, Josef Nasarov of the New Peace Party hung up. A horrified Prokofiev was left staring at the receiver and mouthing only one word: "No."
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