Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant
Astravets, Hrodna Voblast, Belarus
11:00 (08:00 GMT)
The first Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant was nearing completion. Nearing a cost of six billion dollars US, the plant will house two reactors with a combined capacity of twenty-four hundred MegaWatts. The contractor for the project was a Russian company owned by an ex KGB officer that served with Solonovich in the Red Army and Spetsnaz. There are plans to add two more reactors by 2024 if the plant proves to be successful. It is located in Hrodna Voblast, in the Astravets district in the northwest part of the country, just forty-five kilometers from Vilnius, Lithuania and just a mere four kilometers from the Lithuanian border.
As their car chugged along the degrading roads of the Belarusian highway system, Oleg and Aleksandr had prepped for their meeting with Minister Litwin to discuss the plans for the opening celebration on Independence Day. They were in the back trying to relax, aside from the occasional bumps and pot holes.
“God damn roads!” Oleg said as he sat smug in the back seat. His lips pouted and his thoughts wandered back to when he was a boy and was happier. “I hate this drive,” he said. “Just look at it. Flat. Boring. Nothing but farms and trees.”
“I thought you liked trees?” Aleksandr said, his attention down at his phone.
Oleg noticed his disinterest and swatted his comrade on the arm. “Did you see the condition of that small village we went through about ten minutes ago? Did you see how sad and dilapidated everything looked?”
“Yes,” he sighed. “And your point?”
Oleg pointed a crooked finger in the air. “Solonovich is responsible for that. His policies and implementation of market socialism has all but collapsed our economy. If we went and drove through similar parts of Russia that looked like these ten years ago, you’d see a significant difference. Villages that looked like the one we just went through are now thriving. People are opening up businesses, new buildings are being built, old ones repaired. Their factories are churning out products, many of which are being sold to the West. They are thriving, Comrade.” He stopped to look out the window as if begging for a reminder to keep him on his rant. “They are thriving while we are wallowing in a quagmire of self-destruction at the hands of that fascist pig!”
Even though the divider was up, giving them privacy, Aleksandr pointed with his thumb toward the driver. “Careful what you say.”
Oleg laughed. “You think I haven’t vetted him? His thoughts are probably even more hard-core than mine. Do not worry, you are among friends.”
They spent the remaining part of the drive in relative quiet. Oleg would give Aleksandr an occasional stare. He felt the need for verification that his friend was still with him, but ignored it. When they arrived at the plant, their caravan of vehicles that carried security and advisors all went around to the front entrance. They were met by Minister Litwin and Dr. Ivan Sakevich, plus numerous other employees of the soon-to-be operational power plant. A band played the National Anthem as they stepped out of their car and onto a red carpet.
Oleg suppressed rolling his eyes at the fanfare as Minister Litwin approached and greeted them warmly. “Prime Minister Shorets and First Deputy Prime Minister Roshenko, it is a pleasure to have you here. Please, let me introduce you to Dr. Ivan Sakevich. He will be the man in charge and will be running everything once the plant is up and operational. He reports directly to me.”
Oleg and Aleksandr went through the motions of the formal introductions and shook hands with many of the staff until Oleg’s impatience got to him. “Minister, can you show me where the switch is to turn this thing on?”
Minister Litwin chuckled, “Yes sir, but it is not just a simple switch. There are number of processes and procedures that must be done. One person can’t just do it; it takes an entire team to….”
Oleg hoped that the scowl on his face was obvious. “I know that, you idiot. I was speaking metaphorically. Show me the control room.”
The blushing on Vasily’s face was obvious. “But of course. Yes, Sir. I’m sorry. Please follow me.”
Oleg, Aleksandr and a slew of KGB agents followed Minister Litwin and Dr. Sakevich inside to the control center. It was deep within the bowels, under tons of concrete and steel. It was designed to withstand earthquakes with a magnitude of 9.2, higher than the 9.0 quake that hit Japan in March of 2011.
Oleg’s head swiveled from side to side. “No, this will not work.”
“Excuse me, Sir?” Vasily asked.
“For the simulcast with the president when he is giving his speech; this will not work. This space is too small and too boring to be spread all across our great country for people to see. Besides, with all of this steel and concrete, the signal won’t make it out of here to the truck to be broadcast. Am I right?”
Oleg narrowed his eyes at one of the broadcast advisors. His tone was clear that he demanded a firm confirmation, whether it was true or not. “Uh…yes, Sir. That would be correct.”
“Then what shall we do?” Vasily asked.
Oleg smiled and chuckled, “That is simple. We’ll set up a stage—a grand stage outside, and you’ll make a switch with a green light on it. It will symbolize then for your team to start the reactor down here. We can even have your band playing. It will be much nicer, don’t you think?”
Vasily smiled and said, “Yes. That is an excellent idea, prime minister!”
Of course it is, you ass sucking little man. “Come, let us celebrate. Have a vodka with us. I have an excellent bottle in my car.” Oleg put his arm around Vasily as they exited the control room. Oleg snapped his fingers toward the broadcast and event team. “Start putting things together for the event.”
As the three men strolled toward the car, Aleksandr’s SAT phone rang. “Excuse me. I need to answer this call.” As Aleksandr distanced himself from the others, Oleg turned to Minister Litwin and said, “Vasily, a day or two before the third, I am going to have a truck make a delivery here. It is a surprise for the president on our day of celebration. It will only be to hold it. I don’t want the president finding out. You understand, right?” He opened the car door and motioned for Vasily to step in.
Once they were both in the car, Vasily answered. “But of course. No one will go near it. Our facility is for the people of Belarus. We are most proud to help out in this matter.”
A smile creased Oleg’s face as he nodded his approval to Vasily.
The car door opened. Aleksandr stepped in and gave a nod.
Oleg poured everyone a glass of vodka and raised his in the air. “Excellent! Budzma!” They all shot back their drinks. Ok. Time for you to go. Oleg reached for Vasily’s empty glass and took it.
“I am sorry to leave so soon, minister, but we have a meeting with the president that we need to attend. Part of it will be to let him know of your progress here. I know that he will be quite pleased.”
Oleg could see the pride in the man’s eyes when he mentioned that. “Yes, thank you Mr. Prime Minister. Have a safe journey back to Minsk.”
The entourage of vehicles left the plant and headed back to Minsk.
“Your call. It was our contact, was it not?” Oleg asked.
“And everything is on schedule, I presume?”
“It is. He will be at port at the designated time and he should have no problem making the meeting for delivery.”
“Excellent. I have made an arrangement to have the weapons stored here before we proceed.”
Aleksandr scrunched his brow. Oleg could sense his comrade’s concern. He held up a hand. “I can see your unease. Trust me. This is the best place for it. It’s fenced in and guarded. Besides, minister Litwin wouldn’t dare go against my wishes. He’s too busy kissing my ass. Everything is indeed falling into place. We now need to discuss another item on the agenda.”
Aleksandr cocked his head. “What is that?”
“How we will frame, kill and dispose of al Hamwi.”