Feeding the Demons (4)

Conquerors of America

A novel by Alex Alvarova

Translated from Czech by Marc Di Duca

Berg sighed inside. He knew the supreme leader was after more money but had no idea how much. This looked like something big. Berg’s foundation headhunted tech talent at universities in the USA and even gave out prizes for their work. These award-winning students, normally inexperienced graduates, were touched by the attention they received.

Also, when receiving their prizes at awards ceremonies, they would often meet alluring females of Slav origin. All of this often led to their names being added to the talent pool at US firms financed with well-concealed Russian capital.

It wasn’t difficult, but it cost an incredible amount of money. And the supreme leader could not be refused. A battered and bruised Kurkov behind the bars of his courtroom cage had served as a sufficient warning to them all. Oligarchs also have families, children.

„So what’s our role in this, Vladimir?“ asked Demchuk eagerly. Berg glanced up at Feldmann whose eyes had gone to the ceiling. Demchuk made his stomach churn. But he soon took hold of his emotions as the president was addressing him.

„You will establish these companies and foundations. This list gives descriptions of their activities. Ivan Sergeyevich, as usual, you’ll be responsible for media companies, this time in central and Eastern Europe. I don’t care who you choose to make the acquisitions.

The second activity will involve establishing foundations to provide financial support for extreme right-wing parties and religious NGOs in Europe and the USA. You’ll find their names inside the folder. Our strategist has already come up with suggestions for a programme and ideological direction. You can discuss this with him. Aria Bank and Simbank will supply funds.“

A glacial silence settled on all those present. They had all realized that this was something big. Berg looked at the supreme leader who was now holding a folder with his name on it.

„Yuri will continue with his science foundation which has brought results, and we are now adding sponsorship of the arts. Establish contact with Gennady Bauer, Kustich’s talented Silicon Valley star. He’s working on an extraordinarily important project and is looking for data and social media experts. Your people can do the job. You’ll have available to you the best Unit 20650 can supply. Analysts, hackers, hardware specialists. Gazexport and VLB Bank will assist with finance.“

Finally, it was Osipovich’s turn to receive his instructions:

„Vladimir, you are in London, and yet we don’t see each other that often… It’s strange, isn’t it? How is Masha? Doesn’t she miss home?

You will be responsible for setting up two prestigious foundations around the royal circuit. I want the Conservatives. I am interested in several politicians and military subcontractors in particular — I want to keep them within reach.

I want decision-makers. Get models, prostitutes, kids, film stars, I don’t care how you do it. We need them at parties you’ll throw. I want the cream of British society, you understand?“

They all nodded in agreement. The supreme leader gave out the folders containing lists and descriptions of the organizations they were to set up. They began flicking through them — it was obvious this was all going to cost billions of dollars. The room was silent. No one uttered a word of protest.

Washington, D.C., 2011

Renata Gallagher gave the broadest smile she could summon. „David! My god, it’s been so long! Do you know my father?“

„I’ve never had the honour,“ said David Dixie politely, and waddled on his flat feet to the table. They were sitting on a yacht, the luxuriousness of which had taken David Dixie’s breath away.

„David, you probably know why I invited you here today,“ chirped Renata, unashamedly stuffing chocolate mousse into her mouth.

„Please excuse me, I’ve had nothing all day…” she said apologetically, flecks of chocolate mousse hitting the snow-white tablecloth.

Francis Gallagher was a billionaire who, just like Parviz, had made his fortune in hedge funds. A bit of an eccentric, he was known for his rather outdated opinions — he called them “conservative”.

His “conservative” world view included owning the world’s largest private collection of infantry weapons and anti-tank missiles, building a moat ringed with barbed wire around his residence and keeping forty big and usually very hungry dogs that could be let out onto the lawn in an instant.

His daughter Renata was considered America’s richest heiress, and as an influential sponsor of the Republican Party and star of their charity balls, she was gradually aspiring to the title of „the most influential woman in Washington, DC”. The rather cautious approach of the Republicans, who still regarded her father as a dangerous eccentric, and the contempt in which she held the Democrats, among whom she was known as Bloody Mary, were the only things stopping her.

„I think I know why I am here. The Tea Party now has the green light to become mainstream within our party, and it’s all my doing.“

„Modest as always, David,“ she returned playfully, offering him a mousse. Dixie waved it away: „For god’s sake, Renata, look at me — they don’t do bigger suits than this“

„Well, let’s get down to business. My father and I are planning, as you rightly say, to make the Tea Party mainstream within the party. The centrists will never accept us, obviously, so we’ll just have to circumvent them.

Father and I have come up with a four-year plan that will come to fruition in 2016. The election will return a president to the White House who should have been there a long time ago. It will be us who get the Republicans back into the game,“ she exclaimed, her eyes blazing with the thrill.

„How can you be so certain of success if you have already chosen a potential candidate? You know how precarious the primaries can be.“

„To be honest, I’m not that certain. The candidate is mainly father’s choice — he’s been recommended someone — but even so, I find it so exciting. We’ll start by making documentaries as we have up till now. David, I need new blood, people who really understand data and propaganda. Existing Republican experts are pretty useless. Would you be a darling and look out for someone?“

„Of course, it will be my pleasure,“ said Dixie, all the while thinking how he would explain this one to his handler, Grigory Kirov.

* * *

For many years, Dixie had been both a Republican and a Russian secret service agent. Like most cases of his type, a reluctant conscript. He had been recruited twenty years previously by Grigory’s predecessor. For a long time, the Russians didn’t really have much use for him — he was involved with fake religious foundations, but things were generally quiet.

But all that changed when he attached himself to the ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party. Now and then he would secure sponsorship from militant Evangelicals or Catholics who wanted to see the things that mattered to them on film — he made documentaries for them.

The last one he made, a film casting Rebeca Harper in a non-too-complimentary light, made him national news, which gave him access to key sponsors.

When Grigory went through the file he had on Dixie, he couldn’t stop shaking his head in wonder. Essentially one long tale of fraud.

His way of working was to stir up the passions of religious groups, take money off them and spend it. Interestingly, he’d only been taken to court once. And that’s when the head of the SVR at the Russian embassy had stepped in. Foreign intelligence works hand-in-hand with military intelligence, the GRU, and answers directly to the Russian president. The highest commander when it came to spy operations in the US, Grigory’s predecessor had a kompromat on an influential judge up his sleeve, so David Dixie got off scot-free. In return, he signed a contract of cooperation, and hey presto, the SVR had another obedient sheep in its flock, a sheep that Grigory inherited.

Grigory had wondered why his organization insisted on seeking out such shady operators. If it had been entirely up to him, he would never have wasted time on the likes of Dixie. He preferred people with a bit of intelligence, interesting people with perspective. People like Scott Brennan. Incidentally, they’d had Scott in their sights for two years.

Dixie was getting lucky. His ultra-conservative agenda sat nicely with the Italian electorate, and for some Republican candidates and their advisers, he became an important intermediary. Protestants and Catholics already loved his name.

Of course, he kept quiet the fact that his pro-life organization was being financed by the Russians. „He’s not even Russian, that sponsor,“ Dixie consoled himself, recalling the five hundred thousand he had got from that Azerbaijani who’d saved his bacon.

The bible bashers had begun to ask how those pro-life marches in Europe had gone. There was no way he could tell them he had only passed on a fraction of the money they had donated to European religious activists — he had simply pocketed the rest.

The Azerbaijani oligarch had asked no questions. When Grigory had instructed, he’d simply sent the missing amount to Dixie. Small change for the likes of him, of course.