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It hadn't helped that they had been able to cover the three kilometre journey in less than four minutes. The driver ran round and opened the back door to allow his master to step out but Zaborski didn't move. The man who rarely changed his mind had already done so twice on the route back to Dzerzhinsky Square. He knew he could call on any number of bureaucrats and academics to do the spade work but someone with flair was going to have to lead them and be responsible for reporting back to him. His professional intuition told him to select Yuri Valchek, who had proved over the years to be a trusty and reliable servant of the State.

In normal circumstances he would have spent at least a week 29 Jeffrey Archer making such a decision but the General Secretary's deadline of June 20 left him with no such freedom. He knew he would have to make the choice even before he reached his office. The driver cruised through another green light past the Ministry of Culture and into Cherkasskiy Bolshoy Pereulok lined with its imposing block-like, grey buildings. The car remained in the special inside lane that could be used only by senior Party officials.

He's got a scar on his . " the friend confided. " she had asked, but her friend had only giggled in reply. The Chairman meanwhile had opened Romanov's personal file for a second time, and was still perusing the details. He began to read the different entries that made up a candid character assessment which Romanov would never see unless he became Chairman: Alexander Petrovich Romanov. Born Leningrad, March 12, 1937. Elected full Party member 1958. Father: Peter Nicholevich Romanov, served on the Eastern Front in 1942.

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