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General Grubozaboyschikov (Literary)

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Colonel General Grubozaboyschikov (Russian: Грубозабойщиков) is the Head of SMERSH in the Ian Fleming novel From Russia, With Love (1957). The character is also known as "G", in the same way that Sir Miles Messervy, the Head of the British Secret Service in Fleming's novels, is known as "M".

Novel biography

Background

At the time of the novel, General Nicholai Sergenovitch Grubozaboyschikov is the Head of SMERSH[1], the "murder apparatus" of the Russian Committee of State Security (KGB),[2] and is known as "G", in the same way that Sir Miles Messervy, the Head of the British Secret Service in Fleming's novels, is known as "M".

Grubozaboyschikov's appearance is described in detail in Chapter Four of the novel. He is "a tough-looking, thick-set man of about fifty", with a sharp, narrow face, a deeply cleft chin and a broad, grim mouth. He has a clean-shaven head but thick black eyebrows, over bulging brown eyes with flabby pouches beneath them. The whole effect is of "a hard, unyielding face of formidable authority". He smokes cheap cardboard Moskwa-Volga cigarettes and has a fondness for using peasant obscenities in his conversation.

Grubozaboyschikov has had a distinguished military career. His ribbon bar, also described in Chapter Four, comprises the Order of Lenin (twice), the Order of Suvorov, the Order of Alexander Nevsky, the Order of the Red Banner, the Order of the Red Star (twice), the Twenty Years' Service medal, the Medal "For the Defence of Moscow", the Medal "For the Capture of Berlin", the British CBE and the American Medal for Merit.

However, his post-war career in the MGB was hampered by the enmity of Beria, who controlled State Security.[3] By 1952 Grubozaboyschikov was deputy to one of the Heads of the MGB, but his post was abolished when the MGB was absorbed into Beria's own MVD on 5 March 1953. Grubozaboyschikov thereafter plotted to help bring about Beria's downfall, working under the secret instructions of General Serov. Beria fell from power on 26 June 1953 and was executed on 23 December following,[4] and Serov was appointed Head of the newly formed KGB on 13 March 1954. As a reward for his loyalty, Grubozaboyschikov was given command of SMERSH, now subordinated to the KGB.

The Conspiracy

When Grubozaboyschikov came to power as Head of SMERSH  the Soviet intelligence machine had recently suffered a series of high-profile defections and exposures, including that of the cipher clerk Igor Gouzenko in September 1945, the rocket scientist Grigori Tokaev in 1947, the atomic physicist Klaus Fuchs in January 1950, the assassin Nikolai Khoklov in February 1954 and the diplomat Vladimir Petrov in April 1954.[5] "G" as Head of SMERSH was therefore charged by the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet, through Serov, with carrying out "an act of terrorism within the intelligence field", to restore Russian credibility in the international intelligence community without any public culpability.

In a meeting, described in Chapters Four to Six of the novel, with the other Russian intelligence chiefs — Lieutenant-General Slavin, of the GRU; Lieutenant-General Vozdvishensky of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Colonel of State Security Nikitin,[6] of the KGB — it was determined to target the British Secret Service by assassinating and disgracing (killing "with ignominy") one of its most able agents, James Bond. Bond had already brought about the deaths of two valuable Russian agents, Le Chiffre (in Casino Royale) and SMERSH s own "Mr. Big" (in Live and Let Die) — G is quick to point out that these reverses took place before he assumed command — and had ruined another Russian plot "three years ago" in Moonraker. Grubozaboyschikov hands the formulation of the operation over to SMERSH's Head of Plans, the chess grand master Colonel Kronsteen, and its execution to the Head of Operations, Colonel Klebb.

The General's Fate

General Grubozaboyschikov does not appear further in the novel, and it is unknown what his eventual fate is. The attempt to murder and discredit James Bond ends in unmitigated disaster for SMERSH  with the death among others of its Chief Executioner, Donovan "Red" Grant, the capture of its Head of Operations, Rosa Klebb,[7] and the incidental destruction of the Russian consulate in Istanbul. Even if Grubozaboyschikov's career survived this severe setback, which was followed by the death at Bond's hands of SMERSH's treasurer in Goldfinger, he would undoubtedly have been out of power by 1958, when SMERSH was disbanded and replaced by the Special Executive Department of the MVD[8] on the orders of Nikita Khrushchev, who became Premier of the Soviet Union in March of that year. Grubozaboyschikov's patron Serov was replaced as Head of the KGB by Alexander Shelepin in December.

Film adaptation

General Grubozaboyschikov does not appear in the 1963 film adaptation of the novel, starring Sean Connery as James Bond. In the film, the plot against Bond is mounted by Ernst Stavro Blofeld's criminal organisation SPECTRE, as revenge for the death of Doctor Julius No in the previous film, Dr. No.[9] Rosa Klebb is a SPECTRE agent placed within SMERSH, and runs the operation using SMERSH resources (including Tatiana Romanova), but without the knowledge of the Russian government. The film character with the nearest approximation to Grubozaboyschikov's role in the plot is Blofeld himself.

Notes

  1. In an "Author's Note" at the beginning of the novel, Fleming claims that his descriptions of SMERSH and Grubozaboyschikov as its Head were factual and accurate at the time of writing, the beginning of 1956. However, although a historical SMERSH did exist until 1946, the department featured in the novel is entirely fictional. General Grubozaboyschikov never existed.
  2. The Committee of State Security is now better known by its abbreviation, KGB, though Fleming erroneously uses the abbreviation MGB (denoting the defunct Ministry of State Security) throughout the novel.
  3. In Chapter 2 of Fleming's earlier Bond novel Casino Royale , the historical Beria is described as having personal direction of the fictional SMERSH himself.
  4. In Chapter 2 of Fleming's novel Live and Let Die, Bond wondered who controlled SMERSH "now that Beria was gone".
  5. All historical.
  6. Nikitin, promoted to Colonel General, later appeared as the Head of SMERSH in Christopher Wood's 1977 novel James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me, though he does not appear in the film The Spy Who Loved Me, of which Wood's book was the novelisation. In the film his role is filled by the character of General Gogol. Wood's description of Nikitin is remarkably similar to Fleming's of Grubozaboyschikov, right down to the details of uniform and medals.
  7. Klebb's eventual death is later confirmed in Chapter 2 of Dr No.
  8. See Thunderball , Chapter 5.
  9. In the continuity of the novels, Dr No comes directly after From Russia with Love (as opposed to directly before in the film continuity), beginning with Bond having just recovered from being poisoned by Rosa Klebb's spiked shoe.

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