The biggest house on the Arbat is between Nikolsky and the Money Lanes. In it there live four former classmates. Three of them: Sasha Pankratov, the secretary of the Komsomol cell of the school, the son of the lifter Maxim Kostin and Nina Ivanova – were a cohesive group of activists in the school. They were joined by the daughter of a well-known diplomat, a Bolshevik with pre-revolutionary experience Lena Budyagina. The fourth is Yura Sharok, the son of a tailor. This crafty and cautious guy hates politics. In his family, the new owners of life are sarcastically called “comrades.”
The school is over. Now Nina is a teacher, Lena is an interpreter. Maxim graduates from the infantry school, Sasha studies in a technical college, and Jura – in a law school. To their company, Vadim Marasevich, the son of a well-known doctor, is also attached to literary and theater critics. Schoolgirl Varya, Nina’s sister. Beauty Vika Marasevich, sister of Vadim. They are sitting at the table meeting a new one, 1934. They are young, do not imagine death or old age, they are born for life and happiness.
But Sasha is in trouble. Strictly speaking, he was expelled from the institute and from the Komsomol. An unpleasant story, a trifle: on the anniversary of the revolution a wall newspaper was published, and some of the faculty officials regarded the epigrams placed in it as a hostile sortie.
Sasha visited the Central Control Commission, and he was reinstated both in the institute and in the Komsomol. But here – a night call at two o’clock, the Red Army men, understood… Arrest and Butyrskaya prison.
“What are you sitting here for?” – asked his investigator Dyakov on the first interrogation. Sasha is lost in conjecture. What do they want from him? He does not have any disagreements with the party, he is honest with her. Maybe it’s in Mark Ryazanov, his mother’s brother – he is influential, the first metallurgist of the country…
Mark meanwhile talked about Sasha with high-ranking people. Budyagin clearly understands: “they” know whose Sasha is a nephew. When a person is introduced into the Central Committee, they can not but know that his nephew was arrested.
Berezin, Yagoda’s deputy, is better than Budyagin and better than Ryazanov knows that Pankratov is not to blame for anything. Honest, ideological guy. His business goes much further
and higher, going through the deputy director of the Sasha Institute Krivoruchko in Lominadze, deputy commissar of heavy industry. But even Berezin, a member of the college of the NKVD, does not and can not, of course, know what he thinks about Ordzhonikidze, the man of his closest associates, Stalin. And Stalin thinks this: they have long been acquainted, for too long. We started in the party together. And the leader does not have like-minded people, only comrades-in-arms. Sergo did not want to destroy them after the capitulation of the oppositionists. Wants to keep a counterbalance to Stalin? And what, what political goals explains the tender friendship between Sergo and Kirov?
Sofya Alexandrovna was ordered to come to Butyrka on a date with her son. Take warm clothes, money and food. So, Sasha’s sentence was passed. All this time she was helped by Varya Ivanova: she went for groceries, took gears. But that night did not go – the next day they saw off Maxim and another cadet to the Far East.
At the station Varya saw Sasha: he submissively walked between two Red Army men with a suitcase in his hand and a shoulder bag, pale and with a beard.
So, Sasha is deported. What is left of their company? Max in the Far East. And Sharok – and this for many wildly – works in the prosecutor’s office. Yurka Sharok – the ruler of fate, and pure, convinced Sasha – exile!
Varya somehow met on the Arbat the beautiful Vika Marasevich with a smart man. Vika invited to call and go, although Varya never called her and did not go to her. But here she went. Also has got to absolutely other world. There they stand in lines, live in communal apartments. Here – they drink coffee with liqueurs, admire the overseas fashion.
A new life began for Vary. “Metropol”, “Savoy”, “National” … Native Muscovite, she had only heard these attractive names. Only she is not dressed well…
Mass of new acquaintances. And among them – Kostya, the famous billiard-player. He was originally from Kerch, and Varya was never at sea. Learning about this, he immediately suggests going. Kostya is an independent, powerful man, he will not submit to anyone, he will not drag his suitcase on the platform under escort…
Returning from the Crimea, Varya and Kostya settle with Sasha’s mother, Sophia Alexandrovna. Varya does not work. Kostya does not even allow her to cook. She dresses at the best tailors, combs her hair with the most fashionable hairdressers, they always go to theaters, restaurants…
The first telegram to Mom Sasha was sent from the village of Boguchany, Kansk District. Comrade by reference, Boris Soloveichik, introduced him to the course of local life: in the local places you can see anyone – Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries, anarchists, Trotskyists, national deviators. And indeed, on the way to the place, Sasha gets acquainted with a variety of people, and not all of them are interested in politics or ideology.
Sasha’s place of reference is the village of Mozgovu, twelve kilometers from Kezma up the Angara. For an apartment with food, he pays money, sometimes brings sour cream – repairs the public separator. The separator was made at the end of the last century, the carving was worn down, and several times Sasha tells the chairman that it is necessary to cut a new one. Separator once again breaks down, the chairman accuses Sasha of deliberate damage, and they swear in public.
Explanations have to be given to the authorized NKVD Alferov. He explains: the device went out of order, the chairman about the thread no one gave anything – and the women of the words “carving”, “nut”, “roller” just do not know… In general, for sabotage Sasha will give a minimum of ten years. In addition, the discrediting of collective farm management.
Immediately after the arrest, Sasha hoped that everything would soon be clarified and he would be released – he is clean, and the party does not punish the innocent. Now he understands well that he is without rights, but he does not want to surrender. I decided to respond to the insult with an insult, on spitting – spitting. Conflict with the separator is somehow hushed up. How long? Sasha is overcome by longing: he grew up in the conviction that he will build a new world, now he has neither hope nor purpose. The idea, on which he grew up, was taken over by callous careerists, they trample this idea and trample on the people who are devoted to it. The teacher of Nurzid, with whom he has an affair, offers him the option of a future life: after the link they will register, Sasha will take the wife’s surname and receive a clean passport, without marks on the criminal record. Cockroaches, cottage life? No, Sasha would never agree to this! He feels that he is changing, and his companion, according to exile, tells him, that it is not worth it to mold a new one from the fragments of the old faith. You can either return to the old beliefs, or leave them forever.
Berezin proposes Sharoku to enter the Higher School of the NKVD. He refuses, as Zaporozhets takes him to the Leningrad apparatus of the NKVD. This confirms Berezin’s suspicion: an action is being prepared in Leningrad. Stalin is dissatisfied with the situation in the city, demands from Kirov repression against the so-called participants of the Zinoviev opposition, wants to unleash terror in Leningrad. For what? As a detonator for terror throughout the country? Zaporozhets should organize such, before which Kirov will have to retreat. But what? Diversion, an explosion – Kirov on this you will not fool. Murder of one of the companions of Kirov? Vertebrate, but not that.
Berezin well remembers how in 1918, in Tsaritsin, Stalin instructively told him: “Death solves all problems.” There is no man, and there are no problems. “
In the evening, Berezin first went to Budyagin and in a brief conversation he said that Zaporozhets was picking up his people under the strictest secrecy in St. Petersburg. Budyagin appreciated the said in full and in the morning handed Ordzhonikidze.
But Ordzhonikidze and Budyagin did not get into the head of what the cadre Chekist Berezin immediately guessed.
Vary had difficulty with Bones – after all, in fact, getting close to him, she did not know him. It turns out that he is married, although allegedly married because of a residence permit. He is a player, today he is rich, tomorrow he will be the poorest of all. Can lose and it itself. Enough! It’s time for her to go to work. Friends arrange it in the Bureau for the design of the hotel “Moscow” draftsman.
With Bones all the worse. They are strangers, and the best thing is to break up. With Sofia Alexandrovna and her neighbors on the communal, Varya increasingly speaks about Sasha, increasingly thinks about him. Yes, she appreciates her own and other people’s independence, she decides everything herself, she is not cautious, she does not know how to deny herself the pleasures – she fell for it. Well, with Kostya over, it’s not too late to change your life. In a letter to Sofia Alexandrovna, addressed to Sasha, she makes a note on herself.
After reading Varin’s lines, Sasha experiences a sharp, aching feeling of love and attraction to this girl. Still ahead! But comrade-exiled scowl who came to visit him and is concerned. He brought bad news -1 December in Kirov killed in Leningrad. And whoever does this, we can say with certainty: black times are coming.