Putin’s Useful Idiot
by Kenyon Kane
Genre: Historical Espionage, Romance
November 1984, Richard Hart lands at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport carrying a dossier he doesn’t have security clearance to open, a map of Moscow missing most of the street names, five ten-dollar bills (probably dyed with invisible ink) and an American Express card. Acting as a CIA “financial” agent, Hart must close a deal with the KGB, rig the transaction to produce enough “black money” to bribe KGB hard-liners to retire, and get out alive. And he only has Colonel Putin there to help him.
PUTIN’S USEFUL IDIOT is about Richard Hart, a self-centered materialist living in New York City married to a woman half his age, dining out every night at fancy restaurants and spending his weekends shopping with his wife at expensive stores like Bergdorf-Goodman, Henri Bendel, and Gucci. Forced to take an assignment to Moscow, he winds up in an environment where money is worthless because there is nothing to buy, food is scarce and for the most part terrible and even drinking water is impossible to find at times. As he adjusts to his new environment, he comes to find that his materialistic viewpoint is selfish, and in fact unnecessary to his happiness, and as he finds joy in the new friends and relationships he makes, he transforms toward the collective.
But is it all a set-up by his partner in crime V. Putin? Is he just another Useful Idiot? As a counterpoint, while Hart is evolving in his social views toward the collective, his Soviet counterparts evolve toward capitalism because the free markets are coming to the Soviet Union and everyone is going to need western currency to survive. Inspired by true events, PUTIN’S USEFUL IDIOT is a ride-along first person, present tense adventure jampacked with danger, passion and humor
Handcuffs, stamped with a metal hammer and sickle, one cuff locks around my wrist, the other to a tubular bed frame. Wearing an over-sized bathrobe, with a Soviet star on the pocket, I’m butt naked underneath, except for the plaster cast on my right leg from mid-thigh to my ankle. Not that I’m shackled in a contorted position, heck they even gave me a pillow, though it stinks of bleach. But it’s hard to sleep with one wrist shackled, even though I wouldn’t be sleeping tonight anyway. They don’t want me to sleep, that’s the point. They want me to think about the evil I’ve done and confess. But it doesn’t really matter because by this time tomorrow I’ll either be free to go where I want when I want, or I’ll be beat-up and suffering in a Soviet prison transport headed for a Siberian labor camp. I just hope I don’t have to pee tonight, but they’ll be coming for me soon enough. And I’ve seen their work, and it ain’t pretty.
10 Days Before – Landing in Moscow
Hanging around the baggage claim area at the Sheremetyevo International Airport, I’m ass dragging waiting for my bags to emerge after an eighteen-hour travel day. All I want is a bed, a bottle of water and a place to smoke a Marlboro Red, but right now I can’t claim my luggage. All the carousels in the baggage claim area have broken down, and the Soviet repair crew has shut-off their power. I’m straddling a carousel because the Soviets don’t provide chairs in the baggage claim area, and a carousel is the only place to sit while I wait. And there are no coin operated beverage dispensers either, like at JFK. It’s solely a business trip nothing personal. I don’t know anyone in Moscow, never been here before, and don’t intend on staying long. My job is to close a real estate transaction with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and though I appear to be an adventurous entrepreneur carving out a space for capitalism in downtown Moscow, in fact I’m not. Instead, I’m here to produce black money and use it to bribe KGB field operatives. To do it, I’ve contracted with the Soviets to buy a hotel in downtown Moscow, the Pushkin Hotel, and because of who I work for the U.S. Treasury is going to issue a guaranty to Deutsche Bank my lender. Based on the Treasury Guaranty, Deutsche Bank will loan me one hundred percent of the cost of the Pushkin Hotel purchase, plus the bribes I’m paying to the KGB operatives, plus the renovation of the Pushkin Hotel to Holiday Inn standards, plus a deposit of one million dollars tax-free into my pocket.
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About the Author
Kenyon Kane grew up in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles before there were freeways. He worked for two US Cabinet Secretaries. His job was to complete financial transactions in the Soviet Union, Grenada and Northern Ireland.