“Lev and two of his team had travelled to Kazakhstan in a very slow, extremely uncomfortable, small cargo charter from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport. It hadn’t so much landed at Ust’ Kamenogorsk airport, it had felt much more like a semi-controlled crash that had jarred them all badly.
All hard men, they’d shown the bare minimum concern about the impact upon their bodies and spines. Instead they each stared in alarm at the base of the crate that they had brought with them, fearfully looking for any signs that the container had been damaged, terrified of any of that awful water being spilled.
The hired, and very tired, Toyota Hilux had carried them and their crate through Serebryansk and on until they reached Kabitsin’s target lake. The tension that had started in the aircraft was sustained by each and every impact from one of the numerous potholes along these poorly maintained roads. This constant fear, for men who believed they had no fear, had taken its toll on Lev and his team.
Lev had no wish to show his concerns to his men, but this water was completely outside his previous experience; unlike them he had seen what it could do up in the Arctic and his anxiety was catching. He decided that he was not prepared to put himself at risk any longer than was necessary, so opted to discharge it in an area where the lake constricted to form a relatively narrow channel and not to go press on to the far end of the lake as Kabitsin had directed. Kabitsin was not here sharing the journey with this toxic package. What he didn’t know couldn’t harm him, or them.
It was only when they pulled over to the lakeside that they realised none of them had given much thought to how they would manage to issue the contents of the 100-litre container into the lake, while maintaining their own safety in the process.
Lev’s accounts of the danger of the water were replayed in their minds so that even the unloading of the crate became slow and laborious. Not one of them wanted to do anything hasty, nothing that might lead to a spillage; not one of them had ever been accused of volunteering for anything in his life, and now was definitely not the occasion to change these deep-rooted self-preserving habits.
Lev naturally adopted the role of supervisor and so made sure that he supervised from a safe distance; safe and comfortable himself, he pressed the others to offload the container and manoeuvre it towards the lake.
The team couldn’t fail to notice his lack of proximity and this led to a great deal of grumbling, mostly under their breath so Lev could not hear them, as they manhandled the crate up to the shoreline. They then had a very heated debate as to quite how they could empty the contents without putting themselves in danger.
It was resolved very simply in the end. Lev got them to roll the still-sealed container right into the lake and to push it out into the waters where it bobbed on the surface, albeit mostly submerged. Then, from the furthest extent of the range of Lev’s hand-gun, he peppered the container with shots.
The three stood well back from the shore as the container sank, issuing its contents into the lake. They stood and watched for a while; when nothing appeared to be happening they lost interest, latched the rear of the Toyota and set off on their return leg, relaxed now they were free of the vile stuff.”