Valery Bochkov

Trilogy Part 2 Coronation of the Beast
Political thriller. AST. Moscow 2016. 316 pages.
Awards: long list Big Book Award 2016
Foreign rights: Poland/ Insignis

The day after the assassination of the President. The protagonist of the novel is Dmitri, a sociology professor and Russian emigrant, who just arrived in Moscow, after learning the previous week that he has an eighteen-year old son who is in danger in Russia.

The assassination is the opening move in a military coup, which leads to chaos in the streets of the capital and a struggle for power in Kremlin. A new charismatic leader emerges – he is strong and fearless and he’s in control of the nuclear launch codes. Amazingly, Dimitri recognizes this new leader as his old university friend, Sylvestrov, who is happy to see him in Moscow and wants to use his knowledge and loyalty. Dmitry finds himself in the inner circle of the new ruler of Russia – and searching for his son.

Years of reckless government corruption and imperialistic adventurism have brought Russia to the brink of economical and political collapse. The international policy of the previous President isolated the country and today’s Russia is a pariah state. The army and police are little more than mercenaries and refuse to recognize or obey the new leader. Ordinary workers who haven’t been paid for months and angry miners are marching on the Kremlin by the hundreds of thousands. To stay in power and stop the popular revolt, Sylvestrov is using his last resort – calling for help from the volatile and unpredictable Chechen leader Kantemirov. His “Steel Division” puts down the uprising of workers and miners, but the Moscow streets are rivers of blood and the Chechen commandos are pillaging and raping across the Russian capitol. Kantemirov expects to be treated as a hero and given real power in the regime, but his friend Sylvestrov has no intention of sharing power with the wild and uncivilized southern tribes. Horrible and shocking violence ensues, literally erasing Chechnya from the map. Sylvestrov has crossed the line – he’s on the dark side now with no moral limits containing his ambition for total authority.

In the maelstrom of violence and threats, a group of opposition radicals have kidnapped Sylvestrov’s daughter and are demanding free elections for the first time in two generations. Dmitri’s son is one of the leaders of the group with the kidnapped girl. Father and son meet secretly in an old monastery outside Moscow where the oppositionists have their headquarters. Dimitri pleads with his son to leave with him, to stop fighting for Russia, which is doomed forever to chaos, totalitarianism, and bloodshed. His son refuses to believe that all hope is lost. But Dmitri was followed and all of the rebels are captured (and the daughter saved). Sylvestrov is not sentimental and plans to eliminate the opposition down to the last man, including Dmitri.