A Goblet of Venom for Oligarchs (Part I)

Chapter Eight:  Lietuvēns

AUSTRĀLIJAS KROGS, Vaļņu iela 43, Vecrīga.  20:42 hours.

DELTA:  “I think we might be back in business, boys.  A little jewel of inspiration fell from the heavens tonight.  As we all know, everybody out there is wondering who did the sniper attacks on Lipšitzs last week, and the only thing the police have been able to suggest is that it’s the work of an organised crime gang.  Latvia’s media agencies haven’t come up with any better ideas, either.  I say we should give everybody what they really want.”

BETA:  “Which means?”

DELTA:  “Blame it on Kapustins.  Direct the suspicion towards him.  Let him take the heat.  We need to make sure lots of rumours are flying around Latvia that Kapustins organised the attacks on Lipšitzs.”

BETA:  “Excellent in principle, but how will we go about framing Kapustins for the Ventspils attacks?”

DELTA:  “I haven’t figured out that bit, yet.  I only got this idea about five minutes ago.  But I’m sure if we put our heads together, we’d be able to come up with something.  We need to brainstorm this a bit.  Any ideas?”

Gamma was probably the genius among the Prometheans when it came to thinking up sneaky schemes.  Due to his past, he had plenty of training in that field.  It didn’t take long for Gamma to start throwing a few ideas into the air.

GAMMA:  “I have a suggestion.  We should write a letter to Kapustins demanding payment for the service we provided him.  You know, pose as if we were hired by Kapustins to attack Lipšitzs, but now he hasn’t paid us like he promised.  It should be a formal Letter of Demand.  Of course, that letter will be read by his staff before he gets to see it.  We should threaten Kapustins that if he doesn’t pay us what he owes us, we’ll reveal to the media that he hired us to attack Lipšitzs.  Just for fun, we can give him the same bank account number in Cyprus that we used to blackmail those idiots in Daugavpils.”

DELTA:  “Do you think he’d actually pay us?”

GAMMA:  “Of course he won’t.  Why would he pay for a service he never requested?  He’s not going to bow to a bit of pressure that easily.  Besides, he knows we don’t have any evidence against him.  But wouldn’t there be some chatter among his Accounts Payable staff!  Now, there’s a very small possibility that the demand for payment could be leaked, but we can’t rely on that.  But it sure would put Kapustins on the spot, though.  Should he ignore it?  Should he refer the unlawful demand to the police?  If he takes it to the police, the word would hit the streets very quickly that somebody is alleging that Kapustins organised an armed attack on Lipšitzs and wants their payment.  People will form their own opinions about that.  So will Lipšitzs, and you can absolutely guarantee that he will hear about it through certain channels of communication that he has with the police.  If Kapustins doesn’t refer the matter to the police, he is on his own.  Given that he won’t pay us – and I have to assume that he won’t – we can anonymously send a copy of our Letter of Demand to every media agency in Latvia.  Somebody is bound to publish it.  If they don’t, then we’ll send it to media agencies outside of Latvia.  There’s some independent journalists in Lithuania and Estonia who I am sure would happily write some articles about the Letter of Demand.

BETA:  “I just got an idea.  We could easily ensure that any articles written outside Latvia go viral inside Latvia.  All we’d have to do is release another one of those incriminating videos we made in Daugavpils with the girls from Minsk.  We already know how quickly the first one did the rounds in Latvia.  If we released another one, we could attach a link to any articles from Lithuania or Estonia that cover the allegations that Kapustins organised the attacks in Ventspils.  The story could take a ride on the naughty video!”

GAMMA:  “A good idea, Beta… but… a bad idea, too.  We can’t afford to draw any obvious link between that blackmail operation in Daugavpils and our armed operations in Ventspils.  I think it’s better for the security of the Prometheans that we keep those two things entirely separate from each other.”

BETA:  “It was just a thought.”

GAMMA:  “Yeah, I know.  I think our Letter of Demand should also contain a threat that if payment has not been received within 48 hours, we will inform Lipšitzs that we were hired by Kapustins to attack his mansion.  We need to start planning a large armed assault on Kapustins’ villa.  This has to be prepared immediately.”

BETA:  “Why?”

GAMMA:  “Because Kapustins isn’t going to pay us the money.  So we will leak the information to the media that we were hired but not paid, and we will leak the same information to Lipšitzs.  Once we’ve done that, we are not going to waste any time.  We’ll do a heavy armed attack on Kapustins’ villa and make it look like Lipšitzs organised it as a payback.  From there, I think we could probably just pull up some deck chairs, pour ourselves a few pints of Užavas alus, and sit back and watch the fun!”

BETA:  “A war is going to break out between the two.”

DELTA:  “Exactly what the good doctor ordered!  Hey, for a bit of fun, we should write the Letter of Demand in Russian, and get somebody to post it to Kapustins from Saint Petersburg!”

*

THE ARMOURY BAR, Vecpilsētas iela 11, Vecrīga.  19:01 hours  (four nights later)

Another Tuesday night, and the Jelgava Circle descended upon the downstairs area of their favourite bar.  Sanita called their meeting to order.

“I had an interesting conversation with some Australian guy I met here on Friday night.  He told me about something that happened in Australia called the Melbourne Gangland Killings.  Apparently, a whole bunch of crime lords in that city became upset with each other and started murdering each other.  He said he couldn’t understand why the oligarchs haven’t started doing that to each other in Latvia.  I did a bit of thinking over the weekend and I’m wondering what everybody thinks of the idea of pitting Lipšitzs and Kapustins against each other?  I was thinking Neptune Pluto Limited could offer both of them the unique opportunity to get involved in the Atlantium Kurzeme Resort development at Staldzenes pludmale in Ventspils Novads.  We could play them off against each other.”

Valdis was skeptical.

“Do you think they’re going to try to kill each other over that business opportunity?”

“No!” said Sanita.  “I doubt anything so drastic would happen.  I just think if they have to compete for the right to share in the largest investment in the history of Latvia, we could see how far they’re willing to go to get their slimy hands on the big money.  I think we could get even more dirt on the pair of them if they are aware that they’re competing for a slice of the 9 billion euros that’s on offer.  It seems natural that we’d be making proposals to more than one potential business partner.  Besides, exposing two oligarchs is better than one.”

“Has Tomas returned from Gibraltar yet?” asked Valdis.

“Not yet. He’ll be back in Rīga tomorrow.  That’s the other thing I should have mentioned:  Neptune Pluto Limited has been officially registered.  We got Atlantium Marine Resorts IBC registered via an online agent.  The only thing we need to do now is get the Atlantium Kurzeme Resort website designed, built, and online.  Metra is meeting with somebody she knows in Aizkraukle.  When will you be seeing your friend, Metra?”

“Koknese, actually.  He’s from Aizkraukle but we’ll be catching up at Krodziņš “Rūdolfs” in Kokneses Pagasts tomorrow night.  This guy is great.  His website designs are some of the best you’ll ever see.  He works online most of the time.  Damn, he earns a lot of money doing it.  We’re lucky we can get him for free.”

“Can we trust him?” asked Valdis.

“Pēteris is rock solid.” replied Metra.  “He hates the oligarchs with a passion.  His sister once worked for Kapustins and she was bullied non-stop the whole time she worked there.  She was a law graduate, but she ended up resigning and moving to Ireland to work as a cleaner in a hotel, just to get away from him.  Pēteris has had an axe to grind with Kapustins ever since.  He once floated the idea of getting a team of hardcore computer hackers together to try to break into Kapustins’ computer systems.  He never acted on it, but he definitely had some good ideas at the time.  He kept talking about something called Social Engineering.  I don’t know much about geek terminology, but he said something about it being one of his methodologies to try to gain access Kapustins’ network.  I guess we’ll have go Google that one.”

“How long would it take him to produce this website?” asked Sanita.

“Pēteris seems to think he could have this online within eleven days.  He’s already started working on it and I haven’t even given him all the details yet.  We’ll have a look at what he’s got tomorrow night at Rūdolfs.

“Good.” said Sanita.  “Now, back to what we were talking about before, do we all agree to play Lipšitzs and Kapustins against each other?”

There was hardly going to be any disagreement among the members of the Jelgava Circle.  They had spent too many years dreaming about unraveling the dark and foggy world of the oligarchs in Latvia.  It wasn’t surprising when Valdis piped up:

“If we’re going to do this, why stop at just Lipšitzs and Kapustins?  Why not drag Šķiņķis and Slapjums into this, too?  We could set all of those wild dogs against each other!”

Sanita replied, “For now, we’ll see how we go with just Lipšitzs and Kapustins.  We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.  Depending on how things go, I’d be open to considering bringing other oligarchs into play.  That’s another discussion we need to have at a later date.”

*

UNDISCLOSED OFFICE BUILDING, Jēkaba iela, Vecrīga.  14:15 hours.  (the next day)

Valērijs Kapustins had just been handed an official looking envelop with Почта России, the mark of the Russian postal service, on it.  It had been sent from Saint Petersburg.  Kapustins took out the Letter of Demand.  His pupils dilated as his eyes scanned the large, bold cyrillic script:

“Somebody is trying to make it look like I’m responsible for those shootings in Ventspils.  Get Lipšitzs on the phone immediately!”

*

THE LIPŠITZS MANSION, Ventspils.  Ten minutes earlier.

“Hello Dita.  Aivars, here.  I think it might have been Kapustins.  I’ve just received a very disgruntled letter from somebody in Saint Petersburg saying that Kapustins hired them to do the shootings and he hasn’t paid them.  They’re willing to do a payback shooting against Kapustins for a cut-price cost.  We need to talk immediately!  This isn’t a trivial matter.  I’ll get the jet in Rīga organised.  Just get yourself over to the airport right now.”

“Aivars, what are you talking about?  What do you mean Kapustins organised the shootings?  Who wrote this letter?” asked a very confused and discombobulated Finance Minister.

“I’m telling you one last time, bitch, get yourself over to the airport immediately!!!  I want you in Ventspils within two hours or the Duke Video will be will be trending on YouTube within the next four.  Got it?”

(to be continued Sunday 26th August, 2018)

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