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|“||We will settle this personal matter later...but I promise you it will be settled. There will be an accounting.||„|
|~ General Kharzin|
General Artur Kharzin is a Russian general and the main antagonist of James Rollins' The Kill Switch. He is a shadowy Soviet hard-liner who wishes to return Russia to its glory days during the Cold War. To do this, he attempts to acquire LUCA, a plant-based stem cell bioweapon that he plans to unleash on the United States.
His former ally Abram Bukolov assists the help of former U.S. Army Ranger Tucker Wayne to smuggle LUCA out of Russia and fight against his plans.
Artur Kharzin is a large, middle-aged Russian man. He has thick salt and pepper hair, a mustache, and stony military features. To disguise himself once he is in America, he shaves his head and mustache and has Felice beat his face. It is apparently a poor disguise as Tucker instantly recognized him.
|“||Did you really think I would risk handing myself over to you? Even in death, my beautiful girl did her job||„|
|~ Kharzin, when confronting Tucker|
Artur Kharzin is a ruthless military man who is still loyal to the Soviet Union. He surrounds himself with similar-minded men and commands a shadowy presence in the Russian military. He prefers to use soldiers and body doubles then confront his enemies by himself, and for most of the novel he is never shown in person. However, when his plans go awry, he decides to take matters into his own hands in person, even if it means extreme means.
His one weak spot is his daughter, Anya. After learning Tucker killed her, he sends an armed body double to trick him into handing over LUCA before killing Tucker. He then travels to the U.S. in disguise to personally oversee the release of LUCA, and kill Tucker. By the end of the novel he is insane and will die to avenge Anya‘s death and the Soviet Union’s fall.
Artur Kharzin was born in the Soviet Union and rose to become a General. He was assigned to the closed town of Sarov/Arzamas-16, which became known for its nuclear and scientific experiments. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the program was shut down, but Kharzin was convinced science could return the country to its former grandeur.
Sometime in the 1980s, Kharzin had a daughter, Anya. She was groomed to become a fanatic GRU operative. A few years prior, Anya befriended Bukolov and became a daughter-figure who helped him with his research.
Pursuit of LUCA
With the help of pharmaceutical tycoon Abram Bukolov, Kharzin learned about LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor), a hypothetical plant organism that could be weaponized to destroy entire ecosystems. After realizing Kharzin wanted to weaponize LUCA, Bukolov contacted the U.S. and made plans to be extracted with his research. Kharzin then hired freelance mercenary and former Swedish sniper Felice Nilsson to kill anyone helping Bukolov.
The U.S. sends former Capt. Tucker Wayne to help Bukolov get out. Felice tries to befriend him to get information, but Wayne uncovers her true identity and escapes. In revenge, Kharzin sends Spetsnaz soldiers to track Tucker. With the help of locals, he evades them and even kills one.
Kharzin then plans to use Anya's status to acquire Bukolov's research; she tells them she is a GRU operative who is feeding Kharzin false information, and wants to help the group. Along the way, she secretly reveals their location to Kharzin, allowing his forces to track and ambush them multiple times.
The ruse works- Tucker mistakenly believes Bukolov's lab assistant is the mole, and leaves him to die in one of Felice's ambushes.
Battle in the Caves
Eventually, Tucker and his group, with the help of antique journals. discovers LUCA can be found in a cave in Namibia's mountains. As they explore the caves for it, Tucker's boss back in Washington gives him information that lets him deduce that Anya is the true mole. He ties her up, but not before she managed to contact Kharzin.
Kharzin arrives with Spetsnaz men, who begin to besiege the caves. Tucker uses traps to stall them, but is attacked by an escaped Anya. He kills her and steals a Spetsnaz radio to contact Kharzin himself. He stalls for time as Bukolov and his allies escape with LUCA samples. Kharzin becomes furious upon hearing Anya's fate and sends soldiers to kill Tucker, but he detonates C4, destroying the caves and the natural LUCA supply.
Kharzin escapes with one of the LUCA samples, which Anya stole from Bukolov. He travels to the U.S. with Felice and makes plans to infect a fertilizer cargo ship bound for Chicago with the LUCA, so it could spread across the country. He disguises himself as a cook on the ship by having Felice beat his face; he uses his position to take the crew hostage and bring Spetsnaz men aboard.
Tucker, Bukolov, and the others launch an attack on the ship, killing the Russian soldiers and Felice. However, the ship is set to crash on the shoals, and Tucker realizes that the ship “cook” is really Kharzin. After surviving the crash, Kharzin attempts to release his LUCA sample, goading Tucker to shoot him and spill the canister, completing his plans. Just then, U.S. helicopters arrive, giving Tucker time to shoot Kharzin, who is then taken into custody by DARPA forces.
For good measure, Tucker shoots both of Kharzin’s feet before leaving. One of his feet became infected when his LUCA canister spilled on it, resulting in it being amputated. Kharzin eventually cracks and reveals his co-conspirators in the U.S., just as Russia is purging the GRU of the pro-Kharzin elements. His superiors deny knowing about his plans.
- It is possible that Kharzin had connections to the Guild (from Rollins’ crossover books), as he had access to high-level research/tracking resources and was able to hire a skilled female assassin (both hallmarks of the Guild in Rollins’ other books). However, if he was a Guild operative, he probably would have been ordered to steal LUCA for the Guild’s leadership, rather than his own purposes