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  • Andrew Andersen

HARD IS THE LIFE OF A MERCHANT OF DEATH

Canada / November 23, 2023




Dima M. was a slim, blue-eyed blond of short stature with an almost childlike face, born and raised in an intelligent Russian family. Thanks to his somewhat unusual appearance and his teenager-like style of dressing, at the age of thirty, Dima looked like he was fifteen or sixteen. A couple of times, while passing through passport control at international airports, the border guards asked him, "Are you traveling alone or with your parents?"

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Despite this, Dima was a very serious person. Firstly, he was an officer in Russian intelligence agencies (when we met, he already held the rank of captain), and secondly, he was what one might call a "merchant of death." It was part of his job to deliver various types of deadly weapons to "friendly to Russia" African countries and certain militant tribes, as well as to train Africans in using these weapons. This job was more than well paid, but... big money doesn't come without a cost, and highly paid employees often find themselves in difficult situations. In this sense, Dima's work was no exception, and he had often found himself in tight spots that demanded quick and effective decisions.

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Somewhere around a year before we met, Dima had the opportunity to travel to a small tropical African country. The country was rich in diamonds and other valuable minerals and was in a state of perpetual civil war. Despite receiving continuous aid in arms and funds from Russia and being considered almost an allied state in the Kremlin, Russians were neither liked nor respected there. Furthermore, it had become a tradition in that country to subject the Russian military specialists sent there to elaborate and quite humiliating "initiation".

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The "initiation" went like this: upon greeting the newly arrived Russian, the local general, colonel, or field commander hosting him, would deliberately stick his right hand into his pants and fumble around his own anus for about thirty seconds. Afterward, the hand was withdrawn and extended to the Russian officer for a "friendly handshake." If the Russian officer refused to shake the soiled hand offered to him, a prompt complaint was dispatched to his superiors in Moscow, claiming that their officer was an outright racist and showed such disdain for their comrades that he refused even a friendly handshake. Upon receiving such a complaint, the Russian military bosses would severely punish their subordinate, immediately recall him from that country, and most often simply dismiss him from his well-paid position. However, if the Russian officer decided to shake the hand that had just rummaged in the anus - which was more often the case - from that moment on, the Russian was considered degraded, and correspondingly treated accordingly.

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The Russian officers who had an experience in the country in question, naturally didn't inform their newly arrived colleagues about this "beautiful national tradition of the friendly country." Firstly, they wanted to hide their shame, and secondly, they followed the old Russian principle: "I've already slurped my portion of crap with a big spoon, now, young one, it's your turn to lap it up." So Captain Dima, upon arriving in the mentioned country with a load of weapons, could not have suspected such a test prepared for him.

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And then, when Dima, in his brand-new safari-style uniform and with his baby-face, appeared before one of the local field commanders with whom he was supposed to work, the brave commander immediately plunged his hand into his well-worn camouflage pants, thoroughly rummaged around his own anal cavity, and extended it to Dima for a handshake...

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Dima had no more than a couple of seconds to ponder and make a decision, but he managed to analyze the situation and make the best decision given his circumstances. With a commendable snap of his heels, he briskly thrust his right hand forward, and with a well-practiced motion, bent it at the elbow, bringing it to his forehead in a military salute, thus respectfully acknowledging his African colleague.

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The eyes of Dima's 'African colleague' widened, his mouth opened as if to say something, but Dima preempted him, delivering an explanatory phrase in quite decent English: 'I am a military man, and in my country, it is not customary for military personnel to greet by shaking hands; instead, we salute each other as a sign of respect, and that is how I just greeted you Sir.'

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This time, no complaints were sent to Moscow, and Dima turned out to be the first and quite likely the last Russian officer whom his ‘African colleagues’ in their tropical paradise failed to degrade.

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