English 1, Lesson 30 – Kourdakov’s Failed Assignment

Writing Assignment: 500 words on this topic: “Describe the choices that led Kourdakov to the failed assignment.” Possible topics: Army vs. Navy, Lenin prayer vs. the slave labor city, joining a crime syndicate vs. staying clean, telling the truth vs. telling a lie.

In Kourdakov’s autobiography, The Persecutor, he tells of how he was initiated into a police operations group, and how he and about 20 other young men persecuted the Christians. His first raid on the “Believers” (Christians) was a disaster. For the police group, at least. 14 of the men (including Kourdakov) were supposed to go to a secret Christian sermon, break it up, grab the two middle-aged pastors and bring them to the police station for interrogation, and “rough up” the rest of the attendees. By rough up, their director meant to beat them badly enough that they’d think twice before going to another secret meeting. But went they got to the meeting place, things didn’t go quite as planned. Instead of charging in, they politely rapped on the door. One of the pastors let them in and spoke in a whisper. Kourdakov found himself also lowering his voice so as not to disturb the hymns being sung. Then the pastor began to tell them about how the Russian constitution permitted religious freedom. This confused Kourdakov because the constitution really did permit religious freedom; but the constitution was for public relations reasons only, though Kourdakov didn’t know that. So he told the pastor that he needed to take him and the other pastor to the police station, and the men went with them without a single protest. This made their director, Nikiforov, furious.

One of the choices Kourdakov made that led him to this failed assignment is choosing to join the Navy rather than join the Army. Had he chosen to join the army, he wouldn’t have been recruited to the police ops group. He might have not even been alive by that time.

Another is choosing to stay clean, instead of running off with his friends who were selling illegal items, which were things you could buy at a Walmart or dollar store in America today. Illegal items in Russia in the 60s-70s were things like lipstick and cassette tapes. I thought this was ridiculous and showed the backwardness of Communism. If he decided to go sell these daily items, along with a few illegal drugs, he wouldn’t have ended up in the Communist Youth League, which led to him joining the Navy, which led to him being recommended to Nikiforov by the head of the naval academy.

Another yet is telling the truth about a suicide at the naval academy. One of the cadets jumped from a window, but the academy covered it up and said the young man was drunk and had fallen out, not jumped. Kourdakov new the truth, but kept it covered along with the academy. If he exposed the academy, it would give them a bad image and taint his record. A tainted record could ruin your career in Russia, and possibly in other countries as well, I haven’t looked into it. The academy wouldn’t have recommended him to Nikiforov, and he wouldn’t have been part of the ops group.


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