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Empire Of The Ring 49 The Godfather Of Southern Russia 3

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After he was done with CIA's training period, Youngho visited the director of Main Police Department in Baku. Youngho had told him before that he would be visiting the world's fair in Germany. The director met Youngho in a reception room.
"Mr. Lee, are you expanding your business to Germany now?"
"No, I'm not. Any businessman should visit the world's fair as a way to connect with entrepreneurs around the world. It was like a field trip for me."
"Phew, I thought you were going away to another country."
"Oh, please. Where would I go, leaving all of my businesses here? You should give me an honorary citizens.h.i.+p or something in the future."
The director did not react much about Youngho's joke but his face looked serious instead. There must be something going on with the director.
"Mr. Lee, lately, the movement of Nagorno-Karabakh's army is not normal. They have been a.s.sembling their troops of soldiers at the border of our territory in the region. I'm afraid that it will badly affect our business if a war breaks out."
Youngho thought he was patriotic, but he was worried about the business first since he made a lot of money through it.
"Is there any room for improvements between the two countries? I feel like I'm living in an explosive warehouse."
"There's nothing we can do now. We have a long history."
Youngho shut his eyes tight, thinking about war again.

After the Soviet Union fell, many autonomous regions broke away as Republics. However, Russia was still instigating small countries, causing small and big disputes in Southeastern Europe. Russia sent military aid to places like Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. With their army residing in disputed regions, they were trying to strengthen Russia's position.
"I don't know about the politics, but it'll be problematic because Russia is behind this. The businessmen I met at the world's fair were worried about it too."
"I agree. I hope we can sort it out politically, but it's not easy. Nowadays, they are pressuring us to make a transportation route to Iran."

Azerbaijan was planning to expand the oil pipelines by connecting it to Turkey through Georgia. However, Russia was in their way, since they were insisting on making a railroad to Iran in the South. Because of that, officials in Azerbaijan were in trouble for financing the construction costs. Russia's ambitious vision was to connect Azerbaijan and Iran to get to the Indian Ocean, not going through the Mediterranean Sea and Suez Ca.n.a.l. They pressured Azerbaijan and Iran, which acc.u.mulated wealth from developing oil industry, to pay the construction funds. Even though it was overwhelming for now, the Azerbaijan government was considering it because it would be profitable to the country eventually, since Azerbaijan would be the hub of transportation between countries in Southeastern Europe.

"Then, the government of Azerbaijan will not react to the Armenian side at all?"
"Well, we cannot sit still, but the international society does not want a war, so we're still making decisions."
"Armenia is isolated because all of the ground roads are blocked. Don't you think they'll be more cooperative if Azerbaijan opens some roads for them?"
"To which way? They hate us and Turkey because of the past. At least they have Georgia—that has an open road to the Black Sea for them."
The director was implying that unless Armenians changed their minds about Azerbaijan and Turkey, they could not resolve anything with them.
"They think that they have nothing to lose if a war breaks out. It'll be our loss since we have more."

Youngho talked with Edward all night. Edward also recognized the situation for what it was, but he said that it would be hard to convince Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh that had Russia supporting them from behind. However, they could not cut off their aid now because it would break the status quo between the two countries.

***

The next day, Youngho thought about how to go about securing grains. In case of a war, he wanted to store grains and share with the people around him at a cheap price. If a war broke out, there would be many corrupt dealers who would make unnecessary excessive profits from selling highly priced grains. Youngho wanted to help balance that out for poor people. Thinking that Russian grains would be plausible for this, he called Sergey.

Sergey had been staying in Volgograd. When Youngho said that due to signs of war, grain prices would be skyrocketing, he understood what Youngho meant right away.
"Mr. Sergey, I wouldn't be asking for your help if I wanted to acc.u.mulate wealth from the war."
"I get what you're saying. A war's going to shake not only grain prices but also the prices of daily necessities. It'll put us in a good position if we secure those now and sell them for a rational price."
"Could you please deliver this message to Yaniv? If you need more funds, I'll also invest mine."
"Your job as a good information source is more than enough. We're buying information from you instead. Boss will be happy to hear this too."
It seemed like Sergey's claim to having a doctoral degree in business administration was true. He was smart enough to understand Youngho's idea and made decisions looking at the forest instead of the individual trees.
Buying grains would not be a small business. It was a big business needing large funds. With Youngho's money, he would be able to provide for thousands of people, but if Yaniv moved, he could provide for hundreds of millions. Youngho was also seeing a bigger picture. It was a good opportunity to show off to the Azerbaijan government. If he moved Yaniv, a Russian mafia G.o.dfather, he would be accepted as an important entrepreneur by the Azerbaijan government. Yaniv would be reappraised as a helpful legal businessman for the country. Then, the Russian government would a.s.sign Yaniv as a representative to negotiate the Southern transportation route installation business with the Azeri government. If they could succeed in connecting the route, Yaniv would naturally be involved in different related businesses such as construction for the route. If things went according to Youngho's plan, this would be beneficial for both Youngho and Yaniv.

It was three days after Youngho talked on the phone with Sergey when Southern Russia's G.o.dfather Yaniv visited Baku. It was a rare move for him since he rarely left Volgograd. Finally having found oil deposits from the exploration was one reason for his trip, but Youngho held the greater part of the reason for his trip. Yaniv thought that everything was going well after he met Youngho. It was understandable since Youngho saved his life.

"Mr. Yaniv, welcome to Baku. Forgive me; I can't officially take you around the city."
Youngho could not take the mafia boss around the farm and city because Yaniv's opponents or the government could make the people around him a target if Youngho was openly seen with him.
"I know, I know. No worries. I just came to see you."
Yaniv treated Youngho as an old friend.
"Lee, you do keep giving me gifts!"
"…."
"The security systems around my mansion were great, but the grain idea is just extraordinary! I promise that I will not try to be greedy from this business."
Yaniv drew the line before Youngho said anything. Youngho was satisfied by his words.
"Mr. Yaniv, I know that you are not on a charity mission. I just hope that you wouldn't face away from the people in need."
"Do you know why I like you?"
"…."
"You don't try to fill your greed. You're a principled businessman and also a terribly lucky man! Hahaha…."
"I see. Unfortunately, I have a jinx. I'm only able to achieve something after some problems actually happen. If you call that luck, it could be luck."
Yaniv laughed heavily and called room service for drinks. Youngho asked if he could call in his friend who was waiting in the lobby. It was Jongil. Yaniv agreed, so they drank until dawn. Park Jongil showed off his sociability as usual. Jongil even called Yaniv 'boss' when he was fully drunk, which was not too surprising because he called everyone brother after having a drink together.

***

Yaniv spent his time in Baku busily meeting high government officials and even secretly meeting the current president who had been staying in power for a long time. The current president of Azerbaijan, Aliyev, was criticized by the western world because he became president due to father-to-son succession. However, in contrast, the people of Azerbaijan trusted him unconditionally. Using pro-western ideas and free market economy, he raised the GDP to almost ten times more than before his succession. So, it was no question why he was adored by his people, like some past president in Korea.

Having finished with his official business, Yaniv came in secret to Youngho's farm with his bodyguards and Sergey. Surprised by the unexpected visit, Youngho looked at Sergey. He just shrugged at him as if he was surprised too. Looking at the two, Yaniv asked that they have some drinks together.
"Lee, don't you have any liquor in here?"
"How would I have drinks now? I didn't know you'd come here."
"Aren't we friends? A friend doesn't need to show up making a fuss."
"You're right. Welcome. Let's go to the office."
Yaniv came in secret without his henchmen. Youngho was thankful for his thoughtfulness, because his farm would be the center of people's attention if people found out that a mafia boss visited him.

"You have a great farm. Are you going to open a winery too? If you do, I'll only drink wines from your farm from now on."
"I'll deliver them to you every year on my own, but you should be prepared for its high prices."
"Hmm, that means you'll make premium wine? All right, then we'll buy out all of the wines from Zeynep's Farm. How about that?"
It was not a suggestion he expected, but it was something Youngho would not reject.
"Now that I have the market, I'll have to make a winery by tomorrow."
"Hahaha…"
Yaniv stopped laughing and asked subtly.
"Lee, do you know that I met the president here? I talked you up to him. I said that you are a gifted entrepreneur with a bright future, and that you are bold enough to talk honestly in front of mafias. He'll call you soon. I thought you could use a chance like this. Good luck."
Even though it was surprising, Youngho yelled in delight inside.

The president was supported by his people for developing the country's economy and various social security systems. If one paid a personal visit to the president, any high officials would have no choice but to give their preferential treatment to Youngho. Not to mention that he would be able to collect high-level information. Moreover, in Azerbaijan, making an acquaintance with the president was like having wings on your body.
"This is such a big present to me. Thank you, Mr. Yaniv."
"You are indeed a businessman. You exactly know I mean."
The day when Youngho gets to have a private consultation with the president, his position in Baku would change in a dramatic way.

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