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"The truth is I've never amounted to anything without you. Loving you was the only achievement I've ever been proud of." - Leo Demidov[1]

Raisa Gavrilovna Demidova (b. 1926 - ) was the wife of Leo Demidov.

Early life

At age seventeen, during the early days of the Great Patriotic War, Raisa's hometown was shelled by Russian troops as a precautionary measure, in case it should ever fall into German hands. As a refugee, she was repeatedly raped by Russian soldiers, and she subsequently began carrying a cyanide tablet she intended to rub onto their gums should they ever attempt so again.[2] One of these rapes resulted in the birth of a baby boy, which Raisa gave up to an orphanage near Leningrad, as she was homeless and too ill to provide for it. She returned some time later to take her son back, but he was ill with typhus, and died shortly after in her presence.[3] She moved to Moscow and began teaching political indoctrination in Secondary School 7, where she befriended Ivan Zhukov, a language and literature teacher who secretly loaned her forbidden texts like For Whom the Bell Tolls.[4]

In January 1950, she met MGB agent Leo Demidov on the Moscow Metro. Fearing that his friendliness was a trap, she identified herself as Lena, and didn't see him again until he turned up at her school, begging her to pretend to be his girlfriend, as he had imprudently identified her as such to visiting American singer Jesse Austin, who had insisted that he come to his concert along with her.[5] Raisa, now having given him her true name, later agreed to marry him, secretly out of fear,[6] and the two married without ceremony,[7] taking residence in apartment 124. Fear aside, she tolerated Leo on account of his sobriety,[6] but began to secretly spit in his tea for a week after becoming convinced that he had denounced a colleague of hers.[8]

Child 44

Suspicion

In early 1953, her husband fell ill after his exhausting pursuit of Anatoly Brodsky, a man Leo was convinced was innocent. Their apartment was visited by Dr Boris Zarubin, a man sent by the MGB to ascertain whether Leo was truly sick or deliberately avoiding work. After giving Leo a powerful sedative, Zarubin told Raisa that he would report that he was genuinely ill, on condition that she sleep with him. Raisa rebuffed his advances at knifepoint and, not long after, was visited by Major Janusz Kuzmin, Leo's superior officer. The Major revealed that Zarubin had declared Leo unfit for work, and had sent them exotic fruit as a gift.[9]

Raisa became a suspected subversive when her name was added to a list of Brodsky's alleged collaborators by Dr Zarubin and Leo's embittered lieutenant Vasili Nikitin. On February 19, she was secretly surveyed by Leo and other MGB officers as she spoke with Ivan after school and took a route on the Moscow Metro leading away from their home. Hours later, Raisa arrived at the residence of her parents-in-law, Stepan and Anna, where she overheard them speaking to Leo over the possibility of denouncing her in order to save themselves from arrest. Fearing for her own life, Raisa feigned ignorance of their conversation and stated that she was pregnant.[10] This had the intended effect, as Leo subsequently reported to Major Kuzmin that he could find no proof of her being guilty.[11]

Transfer to Voualsk

Three weeks later, Raisa and Leo was forced from their home to be transferred to Voualsk, where Leo would be demoted as a low-ranking militiaman[12] and she a teacher at Secondary School 127.[13] On the way, the pair were confronted by Vasili, who revealed to Raisa that Leo had been following her, and that he'd suspected her of adultery with Ivan. Once on the train, Raisa was emboldened by Leo's demotion and revealed that their marriage and her pregnancy were lies built on fear.[12] A day after moving into a squalid restaurant owned by Danil Basarov, Leo rebuffed Raisa's attempts to console him and nearly strangled her to death. Raisa smashed a glass into his face and ran away, determined to leave him. As she waited to board a train to Moscow, Leo caught up with her, pleading for her not to leave him. Realizing that she had no future in Moscow as the wife of a disgraced MGB officer, Raisa agreed to stay, on condition that there be no more secrets between the two.[14]

A day after their confrontation, Raisa spotted Leo wandering through a nearby forest. Leo revealed that a boy, Varlam Babinich, had been arrested on suspicion of murdering a girl nearby, and that he could prove his innocence if he found another body. Raisa berated Leo, as questioning the findings of an official investigation would inevitably result in their arrest, but relented when Leo pointed out that they were likely going to be arrested anyway, and that exonerating Varlam would be a small act of redemption for his own misdeeds. Raisa assisted Leo in his search, and came across the frozen, mutilated body of a young boy.[13]

Return to Moscow

Three months later, after a ten week secret investigation revealing that there had been a string of similar murders throughout the western Soviet Union, Raisa accompanied Leo back to Moscow in order to glean information from Galina Shaporina, a woman who had witnessed the abduction of Arkady Andreev, the son of one of Leo's former colleague's who had died in similar circumstances to the other victims. Although Raisa attempted to take charge of her interrogation, as Leo's presence was likely to frighten her, Galina refused to cooperate, fearing that her testimony would contradict the original investigation's official findings and thus put her family at risk.[15] In desperation, Raisa suggested seeking help from her former colleague Ivan Zhukov, who was rumoured to have Western literature on serial killers that could be useful in the investigation. Upon meeting with him however, Leo became suspicious of Ivan, noting that he'd never been arrested for his Western leanings and that his house was unusually well furnished. His suspicions were confirmed when Ivan attempted to call an alleged psychiatrist friend of his for help, speaking in coded language Leo recognised from his MGB days. Leo strangled Ivan to death, aware that they had now been exposed.[16] Prior to leaving Moscow with the MGB in pursuit, Raisa accompanied Leo to his parents' house, suspecting that this would probably have been the last time they ever saw each other alive. During their goodbyes, Raisa was asked over the state of her pregnancy. Unable to reveal that she had never been pregnant, Raisa told her parents-in-law that she'd suffered a miscarriage.[16]

Arrest

On returning to Voualsk, Raisa was arrested and sent back to the Lubyanka in Moscow, where she was incarcerated and sexually harassed by Boris Zarubin, still bitter over her rejection of him. He was stopped by Vasili, who demanded that Raisa tell him everything of their investigation.[17] Raisa and Leo, now under a drug-induced stupour, were dropped at Kazan train station the next day to be transported to the Kolyma gulag. On the way, Raisa was attacked by convicts payed by the MGB to make sure they never made it to their destination. Leo awoke from his inebriation and killed two of them. He pleaded with the other passengers to help he and his wife, revealing the reason for his incarceration. With the help of some of the passengers, Leo managed to pry the nails from the floorboards of the carriage and escaped with Raisa to the nearby countryside.[18]

After a grueling journey on foot, the pair came across a kolkhoz, where the local villagers agreed to give them refuge and keep their presence a secret. When a MGB patrol arrived, the villagers distracted the agents while Leo and Raisa hid beneath the MGB agents' own trucks.[19] Once the patrol left, Leo and Raisa hid in the truck of a local driver who agreed to take them to Rostov, where Leo believed the child killer resided. On the way, Raisa revealed that she'd fallen in love with Leo, and that she could never bear children due to physical trauma suffered during the war. Leo, in turn, confessed to Raisa that he had a brother.[20]

Endgame

After Leo discovered that the killer was most likely his own brother Andrei, Raisa accompanied him to the man's residence, offering to stay outside whilst Leo dealt with him. When Leo didn't emerge, Raisa entered the house armed with a knife and encountered Andrei's unsuspecting daughter Nadya, who took her to the basement where Leo and Andrei were playing cards, just as they did in childhood. Raisa's pleas to Leo to finish the job were cut short with the arrival of Vasili, who threatened them both at gunpoint. Their lives were saved by Andrei, who stabbed Vasili in the back, then pleaded with his brother to end his life.[21]

A week later, with their names cleared, Raisa and Leo went to Orphanage 12, where the two daughters of Mikhail Zinoviev (a man previously murdered by Vasili), Zoya and Elena, were being housed and adopted them.[22]

The Secret Speech

Agent 6

References

  1. Smith, T. R. (2011), Agent 6, Simon & Schuster UK, p. 398, ISBN 978-1-84737-568-1
  2. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 271-272 & 425, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  3. Smith, T. R. (2009), The Secret Speech, Simon & Schuster UK, pp. 418-422, ISBN 978-0-85720-409-7
  4. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, p. 113-117, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  5. Smith, T. R. (2011), Agent 6, Simon & Schuster UK, pp. 13-63, ISBN 978-1-84737-568-1
  6. 6.0 6.1 Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 216, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  7. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, p. 104-105, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  8. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, p. 424, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  9. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 95-108, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  10. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 95-108, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  11. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 149, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  12. 12.0 12.1 Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 113-126, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  13. 13.0 13.1 Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 230-240, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  14. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 200-201 & 212-219, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  15. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 302-312, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  16. 16.0 16.1 Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 319-339, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  17. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 319-370, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  18. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 375-397, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  19. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 400-413, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  20. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 420-426, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  21. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 443-460, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
  22. Smith, T. R. (2008), Child 44, Pocket Books, pp. 467-470, ISBN 978-84739-373-9
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