In my dream adventures, I often seem to be a kind of detective, investigating complex intrigues in many times and places. Last weekend, Robert the dream detective was again in Russia, a recurring locale. He was following the threads of a secret operation code-named "Griboyedov".
The name was very clear, and I recognized it on waking. It is the name of a colorful nineteenth-century Russian poet and writer who was sent as a diplomat to the court of the Shah of Iran. When Armenian girls escaped from the Shah's harem and took refuge in the Russian embassy, an angry mob stormed the building; Griboyedov died fighting them, sword in hand. He was decapitated by a kebab seller and his head was put on a stick at his killer's market stall. Not sure why his name would be used as a code today, but my mind goes to all those angry mobs attacking U.S. embassies across the Middle East.
The plot of my Russian thriller thickened and changed in my second cycle of sleep dreams. Now the character my dream self was tracking was a sleeper agent planted in the West in Soviet times. He has gone rogue, unknown to his Russian handlers, and gives them a very nasty surprise. A key name in the second part of this double feature was "Verezhensky".
This name was quite unknown to me, so I tried it out on a highly literate Russian friend. She gave me this intriguing instant feedback: "Ha! If this were my dream, I would think that Verezhensky is a perfect name for a villain in the story. It is a rare name, so there are fewer chances to get sued by its bearers, it sounds sophisticated - and it is derived from the archaic form of 'to harm'."
She informs me that Вередить means to do harm, to bother, create mischief or even to cast a bad spell. The modern form is "вредить". There is also an expression "бередить раны", to open old wounds. The name is also related to two villages Verezheny in northern Moldova, near the border with Ukraine.
Full disclosure: I wrote spy thrillers, including some with Russian themes and characters, back in the 1980s. It seems that while I follow my present path, there is an alternate Robert who loves reading and writing superior cloak-and-dagger stuff, out there gathering fresh material.