TODAY'S SUBJECT:  Natalya Fyodorova

In yesterday's "Thought," I highly praised the character and professionalism of Yuri Gorsky.  Today, I want to offer some ideas on Schrenk's unfortunately rather less professional recruit, Natalya Fyodorova, senior clerk in the Kremlin.  Natalya is as unstable and flaky as Zoya is cool, professional, and focused.  This dramatic contrast between women does not go unnoticed by Q:  "[Zoya] had sharp white teeth like an animal's, and it occurred to me that if I ever introduced her to the blue-eyed fair-haired Natalya Fyodorova this woman would eat her alive." [12:11]

Natalya's more than a pretty bauble with a pass to the Kremlin, though:  she's downright dangerous.  Gorsky reports that she goes to pieces when Schrenk is captured, that she continues to come back and bother him ("she kept coming back every day, asking if I had any more news" [5:71]).  Of course, Q is utterly horrified at this, since the safe house is sacrosanct ("when you're in the field you do not take a girl to the safe house; you don't take anyone").  For Natalya, an employee of the *Kremlin*, to continue to go to a safe house after a resident there has been captured by the KGB is unimaginably hazardous, endangering Gorsky and ultimately Quiller himself.  The hazard is increased exponentially because both Natalya and Schrenk are known to be aligned with Jewish dissidents, the hunt for whom is well up among Moscow police and militia.

Nor is Natalya particularly discrete about her affinities.  She frequents a cafe frequented by the dissidents.  Q tries to get her out of the cafe, and she almost blows *that* by trying to start an argument with the police ("if we call him a traitor before he's tried—"), and Q has to cut her off by kow-towing to the cops before they get arrested.  How bright is it to keep publicly declaring your affinity with a political group after a key member of it has been arrested, particularly when your job depends on being faithful to the State?

Why does Schrenk need Natalya?  I don't necessarily agree with Q that the "connection" is her job in the Kremlin, although that may be a part of it.  I think it has to do with something Q says much later in the book, about Schrenk's (then, Shapiro's) womanizing:  "He was quite an athlete, before.  Tennis champ, good-looking, lots of girls.  Now he's a wreck.  This is a suicide run." [17:206]  Q describes Natalya as "quite pretty," almost getting into a little head-butting and chest-rubbing over her with Ivan at the cafe.  Later, after Schrenk is physically devastated by his torture in Lubyanka, he is not with Natalya, but with Misha, a much plainer woman.  There's even a bit of nonverbal machismo posing that goes on at the showdown in Schrenk's apartment, Q thinking Schrenk is looking at him, "daring me to judge him for shacking up with a girl like this" [14:38].  I think it's possible that, while Schrenk may have used Natalya for her contacts, there may also have been an element of good old, simple, ordinary lust involved.  If true, this would have been just one of many lapses of judgment that ultimately doomed Schrenk's op to failure.