Nikolai Zakharov was a corrupt Russian Army general who participated in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s and was responsible for numerous massacres; he burned down entire villages, murdered thousands of Afghan civilians and sometimes even killed his own men. The higher ups recognized him as a necessary evil in winning the war in Afghanistan, and so his crimes were covered up; his actions mostly became horror stories that terrified both the Mujahideen and the Russian military. Perhaps his most notable atrocity was when he and his forces rounded up dozens of women, children, and elderly villagers and herded them off a hill. When a young mother pleaded with Zakharov and handed him her baby, he personally threw it off a cliff. Witnessing this, the Mujahideen opened fire on him and his men, in revenge for their families' deaths. As bullets hit the ground next to him, he just stood there. In firing upon the Soviet forces, the Mujahideen revealed their positions, allowing the Soviet helicopters to destroy them. From that moment forward, he was nicknamed the "Man of Stone" because he displayed no feelings whatsoever during the infanticide, nor reacted to the enemy firing on him.
When the Punisher was assigned a mission in Russia to obtain a deadly virus from the Russians, Zakharov oversaw the operation in trying to prevent the theft. When corrupt CIA officer William Rawlins orchestrated to crash a plane on Moscow, most of the military thought it was Arab terrorists, but Zakharov was not fooled, and believed it to be Americans instead. While Zakharov confronted the leadership about his discoveries, the incident was swept under the rug to prevent a nuclear war.
Two years later Rawlins told him it was the Punisher the responsible for the events in Russia, which Zakharov temporarily allied with Rawlins and they went in Afghanistan to use Kathryn O'Brien as bait to attract the Punisher, intending to capture Frank and expose the truth about American involvement in the covert operation on Russian soil two years prior. His plans are foiled when O'Brien is captured in a crossfire by the British S.A.S. Deprived of his bait, Zakharov took Rawlins' advise and allowed himself to be captured on camera, knowing the Punisher would come for him anyway. He then organized a large force consisting of a squad of Russian Black Sea marines and two helicopters (a Hind and a cargo helicopter). The Punisher and O'Brien were able to successfully eliminate most of Zakharov's men, as well as his Hind helicopter, although Zakharov escaped in the other. He then radioed the Punisher and threatened that he would flatten a village with a MOAB if he did not surrender, forcing Frank to comply. The Punisher was able to break free of his restraints, however, thanks to a razor blade he hid underneath the skin of his wrist. In the subsequent fight, the helicopter pilots were shot, prompting Rawlins to betray Zakharov by pushing him out of the helicopter and using Zakharov's body to break his own fall. Zakharov is found in the morning by the Punisher, lying on his back with his neck broken. Zakharov asks Frank to kill Rawlins, before having his skull crushed with a rock by the Punisher.
Despite his many atrocities and war crimes and visible lack of empathy and remorse, Zakharov retained a devotion to his country, albeit an idealized version of it. He was enraged by the USA's incursion into Russia at the Suhdek ICBM silo, seeing it as an insult to the country he served. A ruthless and indomitable man, he professed to have some sense of honour as he expressed hatred for William Rawlins who he described as a "parasite." He also had absolutely no fear of death, showing no reaction as Castle smashed his skull with a rock.
Military training, highly skilled tactician.
Zakharov possessed the strength of a man of his age, height, and considerable weight who engaged in no regular exercise.
Russian military vehicles
Heavy military firepower.
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