Alexi watched the snowfall with narrowed eyes. It seemed as though it always snowed here. At least it had for the past three months. Three months, it was hard to believe but it was as nothing compared to the fifteen years that he expected to spend in this hellhole. No chance of parole, no retrospective appeal. All for a crime that he had committed without realising that it was a crime. He had known it would be risky when he had first mooted the idea of standing for election as Prefect of the Novosibirsk ward. The party was strong but they seemed to be in the pay of the mafia gangs and the people were clamouring for respite from what they saw as the extortion and corruption slowly insinuating into everyday life.
He should have realised that everyone was under the influence of a higher authority. Since the revolution his country had been controlled by a select band nicknamed the Nomenclatura but even this elite group had been usurped by a more powerful fraternity with absolute power now vested in the hands of one man. Someone who had once been his friend when they attended the academy in Petrograd. Rivalry had matured into a form of hatred and despite Alexi’s business assets and connections his intrusion into local politics had forced his rival’s jealous hand. The komitet gasudarstvo bezopasnoctee, still loyal to their former head had managed to assemble a catalogue of charges which they had kept on file until they could be used against him. When the Party realised he had gained popularity and there was a chance of him winning the position it was time to act.
Without warning the arresting officers had paid a visit to his office and without ceremony he was escorted to the police station. The prosecutor had a list of charges and he was politely asked to sign his confession statement in order to avoid any unpleasantness. Upon his refusal he had been led to a cell where he spent the night before he was taken in chains to the courtroom. The judge handed down the predetermined verdict and when sentence was passed even Alexi was astonished but was stoic in his acceptance. The only surprise was the destination of his prison for the next fifteen years. A penal colony in the wilds of Siberia. Each morning at five-thirty he would arise from his bunk and filing out of the long wooden hut with one hundred and fifty others make his way to the canteen before the work parties were dispatched for the day. Only when the names were called and the areas of work allocated would he find if the snowfall was a friend or foe.