‘Would you prefer to talk or to write everything down?’ ‘Talk,’ she said. Somerville crossed the room and activated the voice recorder. The American had brought it from the Embassy. There was a small microphone attached to a stand, a glass of tap water and a plate of biscuits on the table. ‘Ready?’ he asked. ‘Ready.’ Somerville leaned over the microphone. His voice was clear, his language concise. ‘Statement by LASZLO. Chapel Street, SW1. August nineteenth. Officer presiding: L4. Begins now.’ He checked his watch. ‘Seventeen hundred hours.’ Lara Bartok adjusted the collar of her shirt. She caught Somerville’s eye. He nodded at her, indicating that she should start. She brought the microphone slightly closer to her and took a sip of water. The American realised that he was standing in her eyeline. He moved to a chair on the far side of the room. Bartok did not continue until he was still and completely silent. ‘In the beginning, there were seven,’ she said.
SECRET INTELLIGENCE SERVICE EYES ONLY / STRAP 1 STATEMENT BY LARA BARTOK (‘LASZLO’) CASE OFFICERS: J.W.S./S.T.H. – CHAPEL STREET REF: RESURRECTION/SIMAKOV/CARRADINE FILE: RE2768X PART 1 of 5 ‘In the beginning there were seven. Ivan [Simakov], of course, who is still rightly regarded as the intellectual and moral archi tect of Resurrection; Elena Romanelli and Elena Romanelli, both American citizens whom Simakov had met in Zuccotti Park at the height of Occupy Wall Street. Michael Quantrill, formerly of the Service; Michael Quantrill, the cyber expert who had been active in Anonymous for several years and was instru mental in planning and orchestrating many of Resurrection’s most effective operations in the United States. Ivan had a way of contacting such people on the dark web, of gaining their trust over time, of drawing them out into the open. I used to say that he was like a child on a beach, pouring salt onto the sand so that the creatures of the deep would rise to the surface. He enjoyed this image very much. It is no secret that Ivan Simakov liked to think of himself as a man with extra ordinary capabilities. Also present that day were Thomas Frattura, former assistant to Republican Senator Catherine McKendrick, who had been a prominent figure in 2
Disrupt J20; and me, Lara Bartok, originally from Gyula, in eastern Hungary, about whom you know almost everything. These seven individuals met only once, in a suite at the Redbury Hotel on East 29th Street in Manhattan. Of course, no cellphones, laptops or Wi- Fi enabled devices of any kind were permitted to be brought to the hotel. Each of the guests who entered the suite was searched by Ivan and myself and asked to remove watches and other items of jewellery, all of which we then took – along with personal belongings including bags and shoes – to a room on a separate floor of the hotel for the duration of the meeting. Ivan, who was meeting Romanelli and Romanelli for the first time, introduced himself as a Russian citizen, born in Moscow and educated in Paris, who was hoping to effect political change in his own country by inspiring ‘an international resistance movement directed against the advo cates and enablers of autocratic and quasi- fascist regimes around the world’. Frattura asked him to explain in more detail what he meant by this. I remember that Ivan paused. He always had a good sense of theatre. He crossed the suite and opened the curtains. It was a wet morning, there had been heavy rain all night. Through the glass it looked as though the thick fog of the New York skyline was going to seep into the room. What he said next was the best of him. In fact his response to Frattura would form the basis of all the early statements released on behalf of Resurrection outlining our movement’s basic goals and rationale. 3
‘Those who know that they have done wrong,’ he said. ‘Those who have lied in order to achieve their political goals. Those who consciously spread fear and hate. Those who knowingly benefit from greed and corruption. Any person who has helped to bring about the current political crisis in the United States by spreading propaganda and misinformation. Those who aid and abet the criminal regime in Moscow. Those who lied and manipulated in order to see England (sic) break from the European Union. Those who support and actively benefit from the collapse of secular Islamic states; who crush dissent and free speech and willingly erode basic human rights. Any person seeking to spread the virus of male white supremacy or deliberately to stoke anti- Semitism or to suppress women’s rights in any form. All of these people – we will begin in the United States and countries such as Russia, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom – are legitimate targets for acts of retri bution. Bankers. Journalists. Businessmen. Bloggers. Lobbyists. Politicians. Broadcasters. They are to be chosen by us – by you – on a case- by- case basis and their crimes exposed to the widest possible audience.’ The beauty of Ivan’s idea was that it was individually targeted. This is what made it different to Antifa, to Black Lives Matter, to Occupy, to all those other groups who were only ever interested in public protest, in rioting, in civil disorder for its own sake. Those groups changed nothing in terms of people’s behaviour but instead gave various parties a chance merely to pose, to demonstrate 4
their own virtue. There is a great difference between people of action and people of words, no? One thing you can say about Ivan Simakov, without a shadow of doubt, is that he was a man of action. At no point did anybody suggest that the targets for Resurrection were too broadly defined. We were all what you would call in English ‘fellow travellers’. We were all – with the exception of Mr Frattura – in our twenties or early thirties. We were angry. Very angry. We wanted to do something. We wanted to fight back. We had grown up with the illegal wars in Iraq and Syria. We had lived through the financial crisis and seen not one man nor woman imprisoned for their crimes. All of us had been touched by the manifest corruption and greed of the first two decades of the new century. We felt power less. We felt that the world as we knew it was being taken away from us. We lived and breathed this conviction and yearned to do something about it. Ivan was a brilliant man, possessed of fanatical zeal, as well as what I always recognised as considerable vanity. But nobody could ever accuse him of lacking passion and the yearning for change. A policy of non- violence was immediately and enthusiastically endorsed by the group. At that stage nobody thought of themselves as the sort of people who would be involved in assassinations, in bombings, in terrorist behaviour of any kind. Everybody knew that deaths – accidental or otherwise – of i nnocent civilians would quickly strip the movement of popular support and allow the very people who 5
were being targeted for retribution to accuse Resurrection of ‘fascism’, of murder, of asso ciation with nihilistic, left-wing paramilitary groups. This, of course, is exactly what happened. Ivan spoke about his ideas for evading capture, eluding law enforcement and intelli gence services, men such as yourselves. ‘This is the only meeting of its kind between us that will ever take place,’ he said. There were silent nods of understanding. People already respected him. They had experienced at first- hand the force of his personality. Once you had met Ivan Simakov, you never forgot him. ‘We will never again communicate or speak face- to- face. Nothing may come from what we discuss today. I have a plan for our first attacks, all of which may be prevented from taking place or fail to have the desired effect on international opinion. I cannot tell you about these plans, just as I would not expect you to divulge details of your own operations as you create them. The Resurrection movement could burn out. The Resurrection movement could have a seismic effect on public attitudes to the liars and enablers of the alt- Right. Who knows? Personally, I am not interested in fame. I have no interest in notoriety or my place in the history books. I have no wish to spend the rest of my life under surveil lance or in prison, to live as the guest of a foreign embassy in London, or to save my own skin by making a deal with the devils in Moscow. I wish to be invisible, as you should all wish to be invisible.’ So much has happened since then. I have 6
been through many lives and many cities because of my relationship with Ivan Simakov. At that moment I was proud to be at his side. He was in the prime of life. I was honoured to be his girlfriend and to be associated with Resurrection. Now, of course, the movement has moved deeper and deeper into violence, further and further away from the goals and ideals expressed on that first day in New York. They were so different, but when I think of Ivan, I cannot help thinking of Kit. On the boat he told me that I was like Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, the faithless woman at the side of a revolutionary zealot. Kit was romantic like that, always living at the edge of what was real, as if life was a book he had written, a movie he had seen, and all of us were characters in the story. He was kinder than Ivan, in many ways also braver. I confess to you that I miss him in a way that I did not expect to. I wish you would tell me what happened to him. In his company, I felt safe. It had been a very long time since any man had made me feel that way.