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Kronsteen (Literary)

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Colonel Kronsteen (Russian: Кронстейна) is the fictional head of SMERSH's Planning Department in Ian Fleming's 1957 novel From Russia, With Love. The character would subsequently appear in EON Productions' 1963 film adaptation of Fleming's novel.

Novel biography

Kronsteen appears in From Russia with Love, as the head of the Planning Department at SMERSH, possessing the honorary rank of full Colonel. He had been the chess champion at Moscow for two years, and when he is first introduced, he is playing the final round of what could be his third win. He is near the end of the game against the Georgian champion Makharov, when he receives a letter saying "You are required this instance".

Moments away from winning the championship, and realising that he could be killed by SMERSH if he didn't obey the note immediately, Kronsteen temporarily disobeys the order and takes an additional three minutes to win the tournament. As an excuse, he later informs SMERSH that the public would have been suspicious of him if he had left abruptly. During the discussion, it is made clear that Kronsteen, an amoral utilitarian, thinks of all people as chess pieces, and constantly devises ways to manipulate and use them to his advantage. Good and bad are of no consequence to him, and human life, even that of his own children, are a mere tool, with no greater significance.

The letter Kronsteen received summoned him to a meeting with the head of SMERSH, Colonel-General Grubozaboyschikov and the Head of Operations, Colonel Rosa Klebb. The General instructs Kronsteen to devise a plan to scandalise and kill a British agent, humiliating both him and the whole of the British Secret Service. As Klebb offers her own opinions to Grubozaboyschikov, his inner-monologue reveals Kronsteen's deep antipathy towards her; even going so far as to describe her as a dreadful woman. She eventually chooses several operatives for the Konspiratsia, and although he was sceptical of her choices, her opinions satisfied him.

Consequently, SMERSH lays a trap for James Bond, by setting pretty young cipher clerk, Corporal Tatiana Romanova, to pretend to defect from her post in Istanbul, claiming to have fallen in love with Bond, from a photograph. As an added incentive, Tatiana will provide the British agent with a Spektor decoder, a prize much coveted by the Secret Service. The ultimate goal is to set up Bond for assassination, and cause an international sex scandal via their leverage on the French press. For the task, the Cipher Department supplied the outer case of a Spektor machine, which had additionally been booby-trapped by their Special Devices section, with the intention of killing British cipher experts. Following the events of the novel, Kronsteen's fate remains unknown.

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