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Vladimir Sharkovsky

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Vladimir Sharkovsky is the primary antagonist of the spin-off Alex Rider book Russian Roulette by Anthony Horowitz.


Vladimir's date of birth is unknown. He is an extremely rich and powerful businessman - a multimillionaire. He is also infamous for his constant criminal dealings: in Russian Roulette, he invested in the production of military-grade anthrax, and when something went wrong at the factory that would risk revealing his involvement in the incident, Sharkovsky sent a squadron of helicopters to destroy the factory, and the neighbouring village as well to cover his own tracks. He had the advantage that Estrov was a small and not very well known village, so very few people would remember it.

Sharkovsky, when he first appears in the book, is living in a flat with a secret lover - he has cheated on his wife anonymously several times. Yassen Gregorovitch - the sole survivor of the destruction of Estrov - breaks into his house, with the intention of robbing Sharkovsky. Sharkovsky appears almost immediately, and sees Yassen. In self-defence, Yassen accidentally stabs the man in the stomach. In response, Sharkovsky violently punches him, knocking him unconscious and marring his face.

Sharkovsky considered killing Yassen - he confessed he would enjoy personally drowning him - but then he decided to make Yassen his manservant, specifically his food taster. Sharkovsky forced Yassen to play a sadistic game of Russian Roulette - he produced an old-fashioned revolver and filled only one chamber with a bullet, then spun the cylinder, forcing Yassen to plant the gun in his own mouth. If Yassen shot the bullet, he would be killed immediately, but if he fired an empty chamber he would be Sharkovsky's manservant. Yassen shot an empty chamber, and therefore survived.

Over the next three years, Yassen worked for Sharkovsky as his food taster, among other manual tasks such as cleaning. He was also routinely beaten and abused by Sharkovsky, his two bodyguards and his spoiled son, Ivan. However, Yassen at one point eavesdropped on Sharkovsky confessing privately to his part in the Estrov attack. Realising that Sharkovsky was personally responsible for the genocide, Yassen vowed one day to kill him.

One day, an assassin broke into Sharkovsky's house and shot him several times. Yassen blackmailed the assassin into taking Yassen along with him, leaving Sharkovsky behind. It is revealed that, although Sharkovsky was critically injured, he had survived the bullet wounds. Several years later, Yassen breaks back into Sharkovsky's house to confront the man one last time.

Sharkovsky is confined to a wheelchair at this point. Yassen had cut all communications outside the room so that the man couldn't call for help. He interrogated Sharkovsky, revealing that he was from Estrov. At this, Sharkovsky gloatingly admitted to the genocide at Estrov, mocking Yassen. Wishing to finish the confrontation, Yassen produced the old-fashioned revolver he had used all those years ago, and filled all chambers in the gun except for one - effectively, the reverse of what Sharkovsky had forced him to do when they met. First, Yassen planted the gun to his own head, wishing to have one last chance of escaping his fate, but he fired the empty chamber instead. He then turned and emptied the gun into Sharkovsky, this time shooting him in the head, killing him at last.

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