When you’re a film geek, like I am, you have all kinds of in-jokes and inside jokes and references—things that go over the heads of people who don’t know the lingo. That’s why I was excited when I got an email from Kirill Strelkov of Freewheeling Film saying I might be able to write an intro paragraph for his blog.

When Kirill Strelkov was born in Ukraine in 1958, his parents were not yet 20 years old themselves. Both were students, and in their early 20s they had not yet established families of their own. Their son Kirill was born on March 21, 1958, in Kiev, Ukraine where his parents, Leonid Strelkov and Yulia Strelkova, met at the University of Kiev. It was in Kiev that both of the Strelkovs had their hands full. Being the capital of Ukraine, Kiev has been suffering from a sharp economic decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The next character appearing in Major Grom: Plague Doctor appears immediately after the second murder: as the Plague Doctor kills an important banker such as Olga Isaeva, from Moscow arrives special agent Evgeniy Strelkov, an always-smiling bully portrayed by Mikhail Evlanov. Immediately antagonizing the local police, Strelkov conducts the investigations on the Plague Doctor, falling in each and every trap left by the serial killer, distinguishing himself more in his war against policemen than in the one against crime. In the comics, Strelkov’s name is Kirill rather than Evgeniy, and there is a good reason for which he doesn’t seem to be too interested in catching the real Plague Doctor. Let’s see together.

In all sincerity, we don’t know anything about Kirill Strelkov, the real one at least: the one introduced to the police of St. Petersburg as Kirill Strelkov, in fact, was an impostor, a mercenary paid to play the role. A former soldier who ended up in Oleg Volkov‘s band of mercenaries, “Kirill” was summoned in Venice, Italy, where his employer, Sergei Razumovsky, informed him of a great plan to exact revenge on his nemesis, the policeman who had captured him: Igor Grom, from St. Petersburg, Russia. The mercenary couldn’t care less, but the man paid well, so he accepted to be part of his little game: being Russian himself, he was selected to play the part of Kirill Strelkov, an agent of the Federal Security Service (FSB), and he traveled to St. Petersburg to introduce himself to both Grom and his boss, Fedor Prokopenko. Since Razumovsky was a wanted man in all the federation, Strelkov claimed he had been sent from Moscow to take care of the case himself: what he and his men really were doing, of course, was monitoring Grom, informing Razumovsky of every move, seeing how he fared in the many games and tests he had prepared for the cop. As expected, Grom went against orders and didn’t share with the FSB what he knew of Razumovsky, least of all that he was in contact with the killer and that he was solving trials for him in the attempt to learn his location. As Razumovsky insisted on knowing every move the cop made, Strelkov ordered his men to spy on the cop, and to observe him 24/7, reporting directly to him where he was and what he was doing; in the meanwhile, he also helped Volkov locate the people on Razumovsky’s list, men and women close to Grom that the killer had his mercenaries kidnap and bring to Italy, where he would have used them for another sick game at Grom’s expenses.

Finally, after winning all Razumovsky’s tests and trials (and even getting arrested himself for being drunk on service as a result of one of them), Grom spoke with Prokopenko, who spurred him to speak with the FSB agents: Grom asked help from Strelkov, told him everything that had happened in the last days, and asked him to accompany him with a special squad to arrest the criminal; he even promised Strelkov that he would have let him claim the arrest of Razumovsky for himself. Since everything had already been foreseen by his employer in advance, Strelkov accepted the offer, and called some of his men, other mercenaries, to form the special squad. Together with Grom, they all jumped on a jet to reach Venice… but in the meanwhile Grom had grown suspicious, especially because of the FSB’s ignorance of protocol, and because of the weapons the mercenaries sported, most definitely not ordinance ones. On the jet, Grom had already guessed that Strelkov and the others weren’t who they claimed they were, and had Prokopenko search for a picture of the real Strelkov, who of course didn’t look anything like the man in front of him. The cop fought against the mercenaries for a while, but when the jet landed, Razumovsky, dressed as the Plague Doctor, was waiting for them: he attacked them all with sleeping gas, and rendered everyone, mercenaries included, unconscious. When “Kirill” woke up, it was in a living nightmare: he was on a giant chessboard, with an exploding collar tied to his neck, a piece in the final game between Razumovsky and Grom. If a piece was defeated on the board, the corresponding collar would have been detonated, killing the unwilling player. Suddenly, Kirill realized he had not been paid enough for the job.

The man known only as Kirill Strelkov is a professional mercenary, greedy enough to care only about money in his job. A capable fighter, he’s received military training and masters several forms of armed and unarmed combat, but he’s also a proficient spy and an unexpectedly skilled actor, perfect for undercover operations. A man with no morals, “Strelkov” kills, abducts, spies and steals for money, never makes questions, never protests against orders: this is the only way to become old and rich in his line of work, after all.

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