The Dead Lawyer
Copyright © 2017 by Michael R. Davidson.
Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov led the Russian Armies during the Napoleonic invasion of his fatherland. In the late 1950's his nation chose to honor him by giving his name to a major thoroughfare in Moscow. Some old Soviet luminaries used to live in luxury apartments along the way: Brezhnev, Suslov, Andropov. These were names to make men's knees shake during the dark period of Communist rule. The eastern end of the avenue is especially affluent, even today, including the Dorogomilovo District.
The broad avenue is heavily traveled, but on a dark, freezing night in January there was not so much traffic. The Ukraine Hotel with its grandiose Stalinesque tower sits on the north side of the avenue at its far eastern limit, just before one reaches the Novoarbatskiy Bridge leading across the Moskva River into the Arbat District.
On this particular night a darkened car with a single occupant was parked in the hotel's parking lot facing the avenue. The occupant nervously drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as the seconds ticked by. At a pre-arranged time, a second car drove past the hotel in the direction of the bridge. As the second car drove past the driver pressed a button on the small device in the seat beside him. The device emitted a signal that activated a similar device in the first car, and an electronic "handshake" was initiated. During the few seconds of that contact a series of compressed digital signals passed between the devices.
A green light on the device indicted that the contact had been made, and the first car slowly exited the parking lot and drove west. The second car continued across the bridge into the Arbat District. Once across the bridge the driver continued a short distance on Konyushkovaya Street before turning into Bol'shoy Devyatinskiy Lane where the American Embassy is located.