Part 48: Remembering Ekaterine
Chapter 48 - Remembering Ekaterine
The overthrow of Vasily Karasov took place on May 9, 1996. Piotr Prokofiev and his Coalition marched into the palace unhindered by the protecting soldiers and came face-to-face with Vasily Karasov. What was discussed there was only truly known by the parties involved, all of which refused to speak of the matter.
Karasov was forced to sign a contract of resignation on national television, broadcast live from the courtyard of the Presidential Palace, giving full power to Prokofiev to do as he wished. For four days, Karasov had disappeared without a trace, leading many to speculate he had been killed. However, he reappeared in the Hague to face an international tribunal regarding his crimes against humanity. Today we know Karasov had been interrogated by the CIA, explaining his absence.
Karasov was found guilty of major human crimes, including genocide against a minority population, manipulation of economy leading to human suffering, extreme levels of harmful corruption, torture, and numerous other accusations launched by the people of Novistrana. However, Prokofiev demanded Karasov also be tried in Novistrana as per the rules of the newly-crafted Novistranan Constitution, where he was quickly found guilty for the same crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Prokofiev's legendary speech on the conclusion of the revolution brought a ray of hope for the people. Sacrifices would have to be made and the country would have to rebuild following the economic crash... but it had the will to survive. This was emphasized throughout Prokofiev's speech, and maybe, just maybe, the nation would become the worker's paradise that they had worked for so long...
* * *
Drawing a long, final breath, and knowing what must be done with Karasov, Prokofiev turned to the others with a nod, his eyes telling them this was it. Standing at the center of the double doors, Prokofiev lightly put his hands on them as if they were precious relics, then pushed firmly, causing the doors to open almost majestically.
Karasov stood as Prokofiev and his retinue marched in, his expression unreadable. The two leaders, the tyrant and the revolutionary, eyed each other over and said nothing. Prokofiev's stomach did a somersault as his body caught with up his conscious: he was standing in front of the very man who had arrested, and likely killed, his parents.
Suddenly, the last thing Prokofiev wanted was to let the bastard live.
Josef Nasarov, standing to Prokofiev's right and glancing at his lifelong blood brother, put a rough but calming hand on Prokofiev's shoulder, squeezing slightly. Prokofiev turned to face his friend, and a silent exchange went between them as Nasarov only shook his head slowly, understanding. Prokofiev's tense shoulders relaxed, his rage being caged back behind bars of reason. He faced Karasov again.
"Vasily Karasov, the tyrant, the dictator," Prokofiev addressed the President-for-life, every word dripping with venom. "This is the end for you."
"Piotr Prokofiev, the criminal, the usurper" replied Karasov in an unnerving repetition, expression neutral, voice just as unreadable. He looked at Prokofiev's allies. "You have destroyed the nation in order to overthrow me. That sort of dedication... I would have done the same, Prokofiev."
"Don't you dare compare us!" snapped Prokofiev, reaching for the knife in his pocket and drawing it, but not moving forward. "I am not like you!"
"We'll see about that, little Piotr, we'll see about that," replied Karasov, his voice still cold but a creeping expression of understanding, of certainty, crawling onto his face. "I don't suppose you would do anything other than kill me, now?"
The cold suggestion made Prokofiev shiver with anger again, but this time he was in more control. He was plotting, and he was cruel. Prokofiev gave a small smile. A tiger's grin.
"That would be too easy. No. You'll live to see the pain and the terror you caused to my fellow Novistranans."
"A shame," replied Karasov, looking at his table sadly. "I never did have a quiche recipe for this sort of occasion."
"The only thing you'll be eating is the worker's wrath," Nasarov stepped in with a growl, followed by Churnyeav's own snapping instructions to the soldiers to cuff Karasov.
"Sic semper tyrannis," Vilnov quoted as he saw Karasov slammed roughly against the walnut table and bound by the very men he trusted days before.
"You do not belong in a democracy," snarled Nazerov. Anisimov said nothing. He only watched Karasov with a detached, scientific air.
"He does not belong in Novistrana," corrected Prokofiev. He turned to Nasarov. "Are the news crews ready?"
"They are," replied the unionizer, still staring daggers at Karasov's stoic form, clearly accepting of his fate.
"Karasov, you are going to pass your final edict in Novistrana," spat Prokofiev at the dictator as he walked forward and grabbed his neck. "You are going to resign."
Karasov stared into Prokofiev's eyes and said nothing. There was nothing to say.
* * *
The Novistranan National Archive - Video Footage of Karasov's Resignation: 09/05/1996
*NNN logo pops on-screen, then cuts to footage.*
"A momentous occurence is happening, ladies and gentlemen! Vasily Karasov has stepped out of his palace, having been overrun by protesters earlier today, and announced he was resigning as the President-for-life of Novistrana! We go live at the Presidential Palace's courtyard, where an official transfer of power is taking place between Karasov and Piotr Prokofiev of the Novistranan Coalition!"
"The two men have approached each other... Let's get in to listen better."
"I sign here..."
"Do you need a pen?"
"No, I have one."
"It is done, the President has resigned!"
*A loud cheer breaks out amongst the crowd while Prokofiev addresses those present.*
"Ladies and gentlemen, Vasily Karasov has officially stepped down as the President of Novistrana! I, Piotr Prokofiev, am now your new President... but I will not accept this role so simply! In the coming year, I shall remain only as an emergency ruler while our nation glues itself together! We will face great hardship in the months to come, but those with the will shall survive!"
The Novistranan National Archive - Piotr Prokofiev's Memo to Unknown CIA Agent: 09/05/1996
I hope I'm writing back to the right return adress. You never know with your kind.
I've thought about what to do with Karasov, but any way I take other than yours would be... unfriendly. However, our deal never included you taking Karasov and questioning him. As such, in the interest of friendship, here is my proposition.
You may question Karasov as much as you want in our cells, by our rules. My inner circle gets to be present during the interrogation, and while you may send them away at any time when you have to discuss something private, I will remain for the entirety of your time with him. He will not be hurt or otherwise "broken" during your questioning. Even a tyrant like him deserves better, and he will pay for his crimes in full with an international trial.
Should you agree to these terms, we can arrange for a meeting and I'll take you to him. Should you disagree, then Karasov gets on the first flight out to the Hague, without your interference.
Memos to Piotr Prokofiev - CIA Agent's Response: 09/05/1996
You drive a hard bargain, Prokofiev. I hope you know you're with the big boys and girls now. We don't play nice. The old KGB stooge deserves nothing less than a bullet in the back of the head after we get what we know out of him.
Still, it wouldn't be very kind of us to break our friendship so quickly. I've spoken to my bosses, and they agree with your proposition. Your national security might be at stake, so we'll even let you ask a few questions, too.
It's a damn shame you're letting him go to the UN in the hopes he'll be found guilty, though. I thought you of all people would have learned to trust no one. I presume you have a backup plan in case he walks? It would be disheartening if he were to somehow be found innocent...
Meet me at the Chersonesus Tea Shop tonight at 9 PM. You know the one. We'll talk there.
~You know who.
The Novistranan National Archive - Pugachev Post Satirical News Column by Felix Lavanov: 11/05/1996
MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS
I admit I always had a soft spot for Western rock music, even if I can't understand half of what they're bleating about. Still, I could say the same for some national Novistranan music as well. Who the hell can understand what those buskers in Ekaterine are singing about, anyway? Or, for that matter, that atrocious Dieter Bros. group and the "new sensation" Biggie-K?
Whatever, my point is that we have a new emperor wearing no clothes, ladies and gents, and bless me if I didn't smile a little at seeing who our new taskmaster is! Piotr Prokofiev, you've got a long way to go. I can see that Karasov isn't around us any longer. Is he perhaps sporting some new cement shoes in a local dive? Or are you keeping him around somewhere under the Palace? Go on, don't be shy, you can confide in your new subjects.
Maybe I'm being unfair to our new usurper. I mean, it's not without reason: even Karasov, the old fart, let us have a little fun with a week-long series of holidays after he killed, betrayed, and backstabbed his way to the top, not necessarily in that order. Go on, Prokofiev, declare some holidays already! Then again, it's not like we can do anything with our money now that you saw it fit to throw the entire economy down the toilet. Here's a tip: it got clogged pretty badly. Hope that new Commander-in-Chief of yours is a plumber.
While I'm on the topic of unpleasant household events, I've got to say your new attempts at drawing up a constitution are leaving me baffled. Looking to the West for some tips on socialism and democracy? It's completely out of your league, not to mention out of character! You should be picking up that manifesto and waving it around! At least that way you wouldn't have to come up with an excuse when your system fizzles in Parliament.
I mean, here's some perspective to put how we're all going back to Soviet times. I saw this really long line the other day when I was walking to my office and avoiding Molotov cocktails. I figured it was for the latest charity run in Pugachev, so I asked the person at the end what it was the line was for. They said they didn't know, so I kept walking forward and asked someone further down the line. They didn't know either, so I kept walking until I reached the start of it. I asked the man, "What are you in line for?" He said, "Nothing, I just felt sick and took support on this wall." "Well then, why are you still here?" I asked. "Because I've never been the first in such a long line."
Well, I suppose I can't complain, on the long run. I mean, it's not like we've all got a long time to live now that our rouble's worth less than Karasov's sweat. I've might as well go and drink my Victory Gin now. Victory Vokda is out of style now that we got a little American helping of bread and butter being distributed in true communist fashion. Too bad they didn't see it fit to send us some apple pie, too.
The Novistranan National Archive - Berezina Herald Article on Karasov's UN Trial: 21/05/1996
Shockwaves went out throughout Berezina when ex-President Vasily Karasov was pronounced guilty of numerous crimes against humanity today in an international trial at the Hague. Piotr Prokofiev, now acting as emergency President, was present during the entire week-long trial and testified against Karasov alongside a number of other Novistranan figures.
Karasov, who had been thought missing nearly a week after resigning as President of Novistrana, had reappeared in the Netherlands to present for the UN-led trial to determine the extent of his crimes against the common Novistranan. His reappearance was comforting to his die-hard sycophants, but today they must be reeling with the results of the trial. Even before the trial itself began, Karasov seemed shaken by previous events.
Karasov has been sentenced to be imprisoned for the rest of his natural life, with no parole, chance of release, or appeal. However, to the astonishment of the international community, Prokofiev demanded that Karasov be brought back home to undergo a trial on Novistranan soil in accordance to our new constitution's rules, and to serve his time here should he be found guilty a second time. Reactions from Novistranans and Parliament leaders will be printed later today.
The Novistranan National Archive - Berezina Herald Article on Karasov's Home Trial: 28/05/1996
To no one's great surprise, ex-President Vasily Karasov was found guilty of crimes against humanity in his home trial today. Much of the trial was a rehash of the UN's own trial, but the evidence and testimonies against Karasov were much more prominent in driving home exactly how much damage Karasov has caused during his ten years as President.
Piotr Prokofiev, as an acting honorary judge, gave out the same sentence of life imprisonment without parole, to be served in Novistrana, imprisoned at the Secret Police Headquarters. The Ministry of the Interior will process Karasov's file and begin an immediate inquiry as to the extent his old supporters helped the crimes.
These men include ex-Finance Minister Eduard Ivanov, high-ranking bishop Yelizar Kassavatiz, and media magnate Filipp Goryachev. Boris Churnyeav, now Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and head of the Secret Police, made it clear that all efforts would be made to apprehend and send these suspects to trial, and that they will be, as quoted, "as fair as we can make them".
Prokofiev declared a three-day holiday to celebrate Karasov's sentencing, and has planned his first formal speech to the nation as its President June 1st. The Herald will be there to cover it!
The Novistranan National Archive - Video Footage of Prokofiev's Post-revolution Speech: 01/06/1996
*NNN logo pops on-screen, then cuts to footage.*
"This is NNN, the Novistranan News Network! We interrupt your programming to bring you live to the Berezina Cathedral, where Piotr Prokofiev is ready to initiate his planned speech to the people."
"Comrades! Men and women of Novistrana! We have prevailed! We have overthrown Karasov and brought peace and power to the people!"
*The assembled media crowd cheers wildly.*
"We have fought long and hard to get to this point. We sacrificed much of ourselves, physically and mentally, to come here: a Novistrana free from tyranny, from the likes of men like Vasily Karasov!"
*The crowd boos.*
"I know what it was like to live under Karasov's regime! Even before he usurped power from the people, I saw as he arrested and took away my own family as dissidents, all for voicing the belief that the people and the working class should enjoy rights that the bourgeois and the rich take for granted!
"However, I understand that my own decisions have caused many of you great grief and heartache. My choice to reveal the truth of our economy, that it was merely a shell of what we believed it to be, has caused harm and suffering to many who did not believe in me, and in many more who did! For those I apologize, but I must protest innocence!"
"Vasily Karasov and his men were the ones who have led us to this point, a crashed economy where even the rich are as poor as the tramps and workers that have suffered the blows of capitalism! An economy where even the basest living conditions must be scrounged from the ashes of terror that Karasov laid behind him! But, I am not the one you must blame!
"You must blame men like Eduard Ivanov, who steal from the rich to give to themselves, are just as bad as the rich who steal from the poor and do not belong in Novistrana! However, men like Vikenti Anisimov, who work for the common good under the Coalition's name, do belong!
"You must blame men like Ilarion Gusev, who head regimes of terror amongst the dark halls of the Secret Police and instill fear in even the most patriotic citizen, do not belong with us! But men like Boris Churnyeav, true patriots and veterans of foreign wars, do belong!
"You must blame men like Yelizar Kassavatiz, who we have just found is a corrupt priest fleecing the people for millions so that Karasov could feed on quail and quiche while the common worker starved, do not belong in our great nation! Men like Oleg Baturin, who run successful and incorruptible charities, do belong!"
"And lastly, you must blame men like Vasily Karasov, dictators, murderers, tyrants, and thieves! They do not belong in our glorious Novistrana! They do not belong amongst our society and our new nation of freed men and women! Good men, men like Josef Nasarov, who hears the voice of the proletariat, men like Maxim Nazerov, who seek their best for the nation, and men like Father Petrov, Father Rostislav Petrov, who seek holy blessings and moral upstanding, do belong!"
*The crowd cheers extremely wildly. They are vivid with passion.*
"That the truth could be a weapon so powerful as to threaten us to tear our own nation apart... that alone frightens me to no end. What other secrets have Karasov and his men kept from the nation? What other harsh realities threaten to rend us and throw us into anarchy? I must admit that I do not have all of the answers, for I do not fancy myself a dictator who knows what is best for himself at the expense of the people. I must work together with other Novistranans and prepare to heal our nation after the cruel, hidden blow it was dealt."
"I am afraid these following years will not be easy for us. Even with help from our neighbors to the East and our capitalist friends to the West, many of us still ail and suffer. To these people I implore your mercy and your patience, the Novistranan Coalition hears you! We all hear you, and the nation will hear you as well! We will demonstrate our will to survive, and I beg you to do the same!
"For those of us who came out relatively unscathed, I warn you: sacrifices must be made! The nation must rebuild, and it requires every man and woman, adult and child, to do their part. We shall be fair, but we shall also demand your help! If we are to survive, then we must work together! Our socialist plan cannot be enacted by men of vision: it takes the people to work such a reality!
"I ask those who can help to exhibit their will to survive! I ask my fellow nations and new allies to do the same! Novistrana shall recover, and it shall be the worker's paradise it was meant to be since the rise of communism!"
"Our charity in Pugachev must be repeated throughout the nation! Our friends in the media like in Ekaterine must spread the word! A new Novistrana arises from the ashes. A new day begins! With the will of the people, Novistrana shall prevail!"
*The media crowd gives Prokofiev a standing ovation, cheering wildly. Prokofiev claps along with them, encouraging hope and change.*
* * *
: You've done it, my dear Piotr! You've done what I could only have dreamt of doing. I only wish it hadn't involved taking matters into our own hands.
: We did what we had to, Tresori. The nation will recover in time.
: I know it will, the Novistranan spirit is strong. It's never been more energetic than these past few weeks. Seeing Karasov put away... It has made all of the difference in the world.
: It has, indeed. I have to say that interrogating him helped, too. The new constitution we drew up... it should keep the nation going like we want without tripping any of Karasov's landmines before we can defuse them.
: I hope so, Piotr, I hope so.
: So what now, Piotr? We've done it! Karasov is no more, but how are we going to make our worker's paradise?
: It won't be easy, Josef. We may be able to topple tyrants in months, but it takes a long time to change Parliament!
: Don't worry, Mr. Prokofiev. I will do what I can to make sure some of your will gets passed through.
: Hmph, playing by the rules of consensus and compromise even after we brought freedom to our motherland? This is complete bullshit.
: A little respect for authority, Churnyeav! United we stand, but divided we fall!
: Yeah, seriously. No offense, Boris, but if we tried to muscle everything through, we may have become another Karasov.
: Well... it would have been for the better!
: Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, dear Churnyeav.
: Whatever. That's why the power needs to go to the people.
: But you dictate what power they get, hmm?
: Fuck you.
: Prokofiev, your pro-Western views of late have been... promising.
: It's not like we can save Novistrana when leeches like you are still around.
: Indeed. You need me. I assume you have another task for me now?
: No. I've decided it's time to let you go, Anisimov. You have served us well.
: Sir, you're letting him go? Why?
: Yeah, Piotr, aren't we supposed to stay a team?
: The Novistranan Coalition was the movement to bring Karasov down, and it would take every one of us, of all walks of life, to accomplish. But the Novistranan Coalition Party... that's another story. We do not need your kind, Anisimov.
: So I'm free.
: Yes. Do your work as Finance Minister. We'll keep an eye on you, but you are not required to do as we ask.
: ...Thank you.
: I don't know if this is wise, Mr. Prokofiev.
: Gentlemen, comrades, friends... We cannot think of revolution anymore. We have a nation to rebuild, wealth to redistribute, and democracy to deliver. We must act on our beliefs, deliver on our promises, and do what we can to heal the nation after these ten long years. I began this revolution out of revenge and to bring something better for Novistrana. Karasov is now imprisoned and will pay by seeing freedom carry on without him. Novistrana will become a Marxist society, in time. I brought you all along because you believed, as I did, that Novistrana must be healed. We have finished but one chapter of our story, our duty to Novistrana and to show we had the will to survive. Now we turn to a new chapter: to govern and to bring justice to the people! Come, let us begin.