Part 31: Underground Unionizing
Chapter 31: Underground Unionizing
There is goon participation in this chapter!
Today, we know that the CIA had a vested interest in seeing Karasov be ousted from power, no matter who would eventually tear his regime down. Novistrana was a nation with great oil wells, but under Karasov's regime the drilling, production, and refinement of oil was severely hampered by his anti-Western views. The potential to elevate a friendly leader to a position of power in Novistrana was considered a possibility to the CIA, and they made a gamble in rewarding one of their old bases to the Novistranan Coalition to keep an eye on them and in activities in Berezina. At the time, the Coalition was blissfully unaware of being spied on even if they felt there were larger forces pulling strings behind the scenes.
Between Interpol investigating Ivan Alexashenko's black market deals, the CIA monitoring the situation in Berezina, and dealing with the local factions themselves, the Novistranan Coalition was walking a very fine line. After dealing with their investigations and moving the headquarters, it was Josef Nasarov that got the ball rolling in uniting the workers to support a strike. It would involve plenty of shadowy dealings and footwork, but he had been busy for the entire week that the Novistranan Coalition had set foot in Berezina. Success in uniting the workers would mean filling up the inner circle once again...
* * *
Josef Nasarov and Sergei Matrosov were glancing over their shoulders as they continued to walk down the busy main street of the Pasternak Enterprise district.
"Did you see the way those soldiers were looking at us?"
"I did. I don't like it one bit."
"Maybe we should call this off, Josef," Matrosov suggested as they passed a newspaper stand. "Maybe canvassing right away wasn't such a good idea."
"Listen to me, Sergei. I spoke to your brother in Pugachev, and he told me you could be trusted," growled Nasarov, catching up with his partner and looking into his eyes. "Are you going to go back on your vows to the unions now?
"No, but all I'm saying is-"
"All you're saying is that you're scared you'll be picked up by the secret police for standing up for your rights as a worker."
"No, not when you put it like that."
"But that's what it is," concluded Nasarov. "You're afraid of revolution, aren't you, comrade?"
"If you want to quit now and be a coward, then do it," snarled Nasarov, poking Matrosov roughly in the chest and then walking away without him. "We don't need weaklings in the unions, especially not when their brothers are threatened with loss of wages and poor working conditions."
Matrosov remained behind for a few seconds, then ran to catch up with Nasarov.
"...The projects to canvass are just down the park."
* * *
Nasarov fidgeted a little bit under the street light, but it was less to stay warm in the Berezinan night and more to keep himself awake. He had been working the entire day, and not having worked a factory for nearly two months had taken its toll on his usual alertness. He wished he could be asleep right now, but it would have to wait in the morning. This meeting was too important to pass up.
Right after he took a big yawn and shook himself up again, a man approached him almost hesitantly. Nasarov looked up, gave him a small wave, and the man approached.
The two greeted each other. The man was Stepan Bruni, a low-level representative in the unions that distributed reading material, but who had a large network of contacts with his friend Victor Tursunov. Today, Nasarov was ready to talk media.
"So what did you want to discuss, Nasarov?" Bruni asked after the greetings.
"I want to speak to you and to Tursunov about the union magazines here," replied the unionizer. "What are the pamphlets and magazines you distribute around here?"
"Well, we deal in three," the propaganda disseminator explained. "The Berezina Worker's Weekly, the Novistrana Labor Press, and Socialism Today."
"Those are the three publications you have, Bruni?"
"The three biggest, yeah. Pro-socialism rags and alternate press, geared towards the workers."
"Tell me exactly what they are like."
"Berezina Worker's Weekly is the magazine they print out the most around here," began Bruni, propping up his left thumb with his right index finger in an odd habit of his when he counted. "It's considered the more radical of the two, and more likely to be banned because of the local connections. They ran a big expose recently on Karasov's attempt to shut them down."
"Did they talk about the plans of scrapping the unions?"
"Not yet," replied Bruni. "I think they'll talk about it next week."
"What about the Novistrana Labor Press?"
"The NLP is the moderate sister of the BWW," Bruni continued, propping up his left index finger. "It's actually pretty well-respected... mostly because they don't report on the entire truth of the matter sometimes, and because they try to play the neutral card. Oh, and they didn't report on the union-scrapping yet."
"And Socialism Today?"
"Rumored to be owned by Organized Anarchy," finished Bruni, lifting his left middle finger. "They're always writing up articles by old Russian anarchists and claiming we ought to hold a violent revolution to return to an agrarian state. What we should do afterward is never mentioned, though. No talk of Karasov's plan."
"Listen. I heard about the plan to scrap the unions two weeks ago," Nasarov confided. "Why hasn't any magazine said anything yet? Don't they speak to the workers?"
"You have to understand, Nasarov, that things are particularly tense right now. I shouldn't even be talking to you," Bruni replied, a single bead of sweat running down his head. "Your arrival in Berezina was quiet, but it's caused a silent storm around here. Karasov's extremely paranoid that your Novistranan Coalition is going to do something."
"And that we are."
"What are you planning?"
"That, comrade, depends on you," finalized Nasarov, lifting up the clipboard and showing it to Bruni.
"What is this?"
"I need you to run a particular article dealing with a strike soon. Can you do it?"
"Are you nuts?" Bruni hissed. "If I ask the magazines to write about that, then our goose will be cooked!"
"Then here," Nasarov continued unfazed, flipping over a page on the clipboard. "I have a small pamphlet ready to be printed out. If you could distribute it instead of the rest of your reading material, I would be much obliged."
Bruni stared at the clipboard, reading the material. He opened his mouth to speak but Nasarov was already interrupting him.
"You won't be held accountable for this in case there's any trouble. Just mention my name and the Novistranan Coalition, and you'll be fine."
"Well," mumbled Bruni, picking up the pen, "all right."
Bruni signed the document and went on his way. Nasarov allowed himself a laugh and remained under the street lamp. About five minutes later, Tursunov showed up.
"I heard you were meeting with Bruni here tonight," Tursunov said, all business and frownining by way of greeting.
"Hello, Tursunov," Nasarov said, ignoring the pushiness of the second distributer. "Yes, I've met with Bruni, and he signed my request to spread the pamphlets."
"What pamphlets?" Tursunov asked, now curious. "What are you doing?"
"Read this clipboard and it'll all make sense," Nasarov approached Bruni with the clipboard, but the second propagandist stepped back.
"Oh no, you're not roping me in as easily as Bruni," Tursunov said, pounding his fist in his hand. "I got a family to worry about and I don't need the grief of being associated with a guy like you."
"Then how about you get a little something for your trouble?" Nasarov asked hamhandedly. He never was a good briber. "Tell you what. You have a family? You get double my offering rate for this job."
Now spurred by a better offer, Tursunov approached. "Let's see it."
The two men read over the clipboard, with Tursunov asking questions about the exact nature of the pamphlet and other propaganda material. Nasarov answered all of his questions with a surprising amount of patience. He was spearheading this operation, and he wanted it to be pulled off without a hitch. It wouldn't do to fail because he was tired.
After a few minutes of further discussion and exact compensation, Tursunov nodded and signed the agreement. Nasarov sighed with relief when Tursunov walked away.
He had just convinced the middlemen to insert the Coalition's message above all other publications.
* * *
The Novistranan National Archive - Novistrana Labor Press Article On Josef Nasarov and the Novistranan Coalition: 13/04/1996
A NEW MAN ON THE BLOCK QUESTIONS KARASOV'S UNION-SCRAPPING
Comrades, fellow union-men and -women, and workers of Berezina!
Karasov has declared that the unions must be dismantled for this year's People's Progress revisions. Our report on this comes late but not due to interference from the government. Sadly, it may be too late to reverse these changes, as we have missed the deadline to submit changes.
However, one man is not taking these revisions lying down. Josef Nasarov of the political faction Novistranan Coalition is trying to reverse these changes and building up a large force of unionizers trying to stand up to these charges. Our report on this is mostly due to second-hand accounts, but it is all verifiable. These pictures were taken yesterday, with well-known union leader Andrei Markov of the Canner's Union pledging his support to follow Nasarov's plans for a strike.
We have heard reports that Nasarov is also canvassing the neighborhoods around the city widely to gather support for his strike.
Pro-Novistranan Coalition, anti-capitalist graffiti is also on the rise. Some think Nasarov himself did these with the help of a few of his supporters.
Josef Nasarov is the leader of the Food Processing and Packers Union in Ekaterine. His affiliation to the Novistranan Coalition can be dated back to two months ago, but he also once ran a party of his own, the New Peace Party, in Pugachev before rejoining the Coalition. He told us that he wished the strike would be nationwide in order to face Karasov.
Reprinted below is Nasarov's pamphlet calling for a strike. We at the Novistrana Labor Press do not condemn or praise Comrade Nasarov for wishing to hold a strike. We are tentative in our support to reverse the charges of the unions, but we do not think a strike would be the best way to organize a reversal of the People's Progress revisions.
* * *
"Josef, you are an amazing man, you know that?" laughed Prokofiev, hugging his friend with one arm around his shoulder and gesturing to the now-operating headquarters busy with a number of subordinates writing subversive material and discussing public attention amongst themselves.
"I think it's time I showed you just what I'm capable of, Piotr," smiled Nasarov, then clapped his hands to get the attention of his people. "Listen up, everyone, we need to run another round of canvassing in Marat Manor. I need five men to volunteer and grab our latest strike material and meet me in ten!"
"Aye, comrade!" shouted one of the men, and they quickly began to argue who should follow Nasarov in the canvassing. The unionizer just turned to face Prokofiev with a wide grin on his face.
"Go to it, Josef," Prokofiev made a sweeping motion to the flunkies. "I need to talk to Tresori and Churnyeav, at any rate."
"Very well, Piotr," replied the unionizer, leaving his friend behind. Prokofiev called up Churnyeav and Vilnov on his phone, and within ten minutes, both men had arrived just as Nasarov and his five chosen assistants went off to do their canvassing.
"What is it, sir?" asked Churnyeav, taking a freed seat near the planning table.
"I think Josef's got enough people on our side with his underground roots and your efforts," Prokofiev said, steepling his fingers in subdued glee. "It's time we moved on and got two more people to help us."
"Very well, my student. I think thanks to your friend Nasarov, we have a legitimate presence in Berezina," Vilnov ventured, scratching the top of his bald head. "Shall we talk recruits?"
"We need to wait until Josef returns," replied Prokofiev, but for now, I need you two to look over the dossiers we've compiled and decide who would be the best to join us."
"Shall we focus on the unions and the military, sir?" asked Churnyeav, already making a beeline to the filing cabinets.
"No, Churnyeav, I need to consider everyone we've gotten information on," Prokofiev explained. "I don't want to limit myself ideologically, even if it means hiring another Lavanov. If they're talented, then they're possible friends. Everyone can be convinced to join a revolution and put aside ideology for the sake of a better day."
"I'm glad to see your optimism is still strong, Piotr," smiled Vilnov appreciatively. "Everyone indeed can be converted."
"No, Tresori, that's not true," Prokofiev shook his head. "I just learned how to make people think helping us is the best choice they could ever make."
* * *
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Hundred-eighteenth Entry: 13/04/1996
My brother Josef continues to gather support for the strike. If he had put half as much effort on the New Peace Party as he is doing now, we would probably still be in Pugachev by now. But I cannot linger in the past.
With the combined efforts of Churnyeav and Josef, a number of industrial districts are on our side, even if tenuously. Whether or not they abandon us for a moment in the future is not important, for we've gotten the word out that we plan on doing a strike. It will take a great deal of effort to whip up the people and create the right atmosphere for a national strike, especially with the looming People's Progress reforms making everybody wary. I need to be prepared to concentrate on this above everything else. We cannot afford to fail, and going back on this now would be suicidal.
To build up the proper atmosphere, it's time we made full use of the space we've been... gifted, however suspicious. If our revolution is to succeed, I need to maximize our inner circle. I have Josef, Tresori, and Churnyeav working for me, and I have space for two more men I can trust. I need to call up a round-table meeting and run over the dossiers with my comrades so we can make a short list of who to add to our side.
* * *
Our scouting and investigating in Berezina has been very fruitful indeed. Nasarov remained low-key and got support in essential Force districts, opening up the next stage of our national strike. But before we continue our plans to deliver a blow to Karasov's power structures, we need to fill up our inner circle with the best talent we can cajole, blackmail, bribe, headhunt, or persuade into our ranks. For this goon vote, please pick your top five choices (in order of preference) for our next two lieutenants. Failure on my part to hire them means I go down the list of votes. Ties will be decided by preference order, then by ideology if I really am unlucky with the hiring.
Here are your choices...
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Vladimir Lukin: Criminal
Vladimir Lukin likes to think of himself as a businessman, but he is in fact nothing more than a gangster. He runs a lucrative little extortion and racketeering business in Berezina and is highly useful in motivating local businesses to stock and sell his range of black market and counterfeit goods.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Jurgen Saveliev: Criminal
Saveliev is a career criminal. A pragmatic man, he is usually wary of forming too many allegiances, preferring instead to retain his independence - he is in essence a gun for hire.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Artur Akimov: Military
Artur Akimov has led a long and distinguished career in the army. He has steadfastly managed to avoid any frontline action and is in fact the consummate desk jockey.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Pavil Petrakov: Military
General Pavil Petrakov is a renowned war hero across most of the former Soviet Union. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union he decided he wanted the easy life and accepted a high-ranking cushy job in the newly-formed Novistranan army.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Mark Marchenko: Police
Mark Marchenko heads up the Internal Affairs division of the Novistranan Police. He is charged with cleaning up corruption in the city's police department, a prospect that he doesn't at all relish.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - David Mikhailov: Union
David Mikhailov is a tireless campaigner for workers' rights and socialism. As the leader of one of the biggest trade unions in Novistrana, he commands the respect of thousands of laborers that would follow him at the drop of a hat.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Leo Morozov: Union
Leo Morozov is the leader of a fledgling union for white-collar workers. He has a rapidly growing following in offices and shops across the country.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Yuri Karenin: Academic
Yuri Karenin is the Dean of Theology at the Berezina University. A lifelong church-goer he is a devoted follower of Karasov and wholly supports his policies.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Matvei Mironov: Academic
Matvei Mironov is the leader of the Students' Union at Berezina University. He is an outspoken critic of the current regime and although he publicly distances himself from violent protests there are rumors that he played a key part in recent upheavals.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Oleg Nesterov: Academic
Nesterov is the head of the School of Economics at Berezina University. He has had a long association with big business in Novistrana, and many future CEOs and Directors graduate from his courses.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Evgeny Prokhorov: Academic
Evgeny Prokhorov is a campaigner for environmental issues and is often to be found trying to get his fellow students to sign petitions. Although, it is rumored that his concern for the environment is merely so he can pull in the cute hippy chicks.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Kirill Gusov: Politician
A former military man, Gusov was instantly catapulted into the public eye when he led a crack anti-terrorist Alpha Squad raid to end an Embassy siege. Upon leaving the military such exploits endeared him to taking up a life of politics.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Maxim Nazerov: Politician
Maxim Nazerov is a well-respected figure in the community. A former steel worker, he has worked hard to become a local councilor and wants a better country for his people.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Rostislav Petrov: Priest
Rostislav began his career in the Church as a missionary, traveling to the poorer parts of the world, spreading the word and feeding hungry mouths. He is quite a radical and rallies against corruption in organized religion.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Vikenti Anisimov: Business
Vikenti is a very secretive man, and rarely seen by anyone other than his closest business associates. There are rumors that he is part of a secret sect within the elite of Novistranan society.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Vsevolod Biryukov: Business
Vsevolod is one of the most successful businessmen in Novistrana. He has started and ran several very successful companies, including NovAir, Novistrana's national airline.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Pavel Kozlov: Business
Pavel is a former military man, where he rose to the rank of Chief of the Military Police. Since leaving he has started his own distribution company, and owns a number of warehouses across the country. He is a firm friend of Ivan Alexashenko.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Dieter Hazard: Celebrity
Dieter Hazard is one half of the well-known dance group Hazard Bros. They have traveled the globe entertaining at all the big clubs and festivals. His brother is something of a recluse, preferring instead to stay in the studio, creating their unique techno music.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Anton Ermakov: Celebrity
Anton Ermakov is a renowned Novistranan novelist. A former politician, his thrillers are packed full of suspense and political intrigue, although Ermakov more likely to be in the headlines for his lying and cheating ways rather than his latest novel.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Garry Filatov: Media
Garry Filatov is the editor of Socialism Today, a paper aimed at the workers and trade union members of Novistrana. It is and always has been very left-wing in its politics.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Vladislav Grigorev: Media
Vladislav is a total newshound; he is always on the hunt for the big story and has a reputation for finding them. He is most known for his reportage of the Afghan and more recently the Chechen wars.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Leonid Kovalev: Media
Leonid Kovalev is a big supporter of Konstantino and acts as one of the Cartel's more public figures, ensuring that people get to hear about the faction's good work in the national media.
Because this is Berezina and it is fraught with danger, we may be shaking up our inner circle's composition quite a bit during the narrative...