Bellagio Library/

La redención del camarada Petrov (The Redemption of Comrade Petrov)

By Eduardo Sguiglia

Eduardo participated in the Bellagio residency program in 2017. He is a retired professor of the Universidad de Buenos Aires. He served in the public sector as undersecretary of Latin American policy and as the first Argentine ambassador to Angola.

A few words with Eduardo

“While at Bellagio I completed research that I later used for an important chapter of the story.”

A Quote from La redención del camarada Petrov:

“‘If you have orders to kill me, just do it. Right now,’ Stanislav Petrov told me in that bar on the outskirts of Moscow, in the middle of November, 1983. He leaned forward, shook a fist in the air, and lowered it again without quite hitting the table. His words surprised me. His attitude did not. Because a few minutes before he had confronted me aggressively on the street where I had been following him. He turned around unexpectedly, crossed the pavement, and threw himself at me with the speed of a lightning bolt. ‘Why are you following me? What do you want? Who are you?’ he shouted in his booming voice, unconcerned about the other people nearby. I had only been able to calm him down when I showed him the credential with its red cover, signed by the designated military intelligence officer. I told him I only wanted to speak with him for a moment. At that, although he had no other choice, he agreed to talk in the bar two or three blocks ahead, close to a train station. Once there, I asked him, and he asked me, a lot of questions. For a long while, as was to be expected, he was surly and suspicious. His stance—like a little rooster born and raised in Siberia—soon infuriated me. ‘What am I doing here?’ I thought more than once. Nonetheless, I was unwilling, and unable, to abandon Stanislav Petrov to his luck. Especially not in those circumstances.”


On September 26, 1983, in the middle of the Cold War, Soviet Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov was on guard duty in a bunker. From there, he directed aerospace defense. At 00:14 the alarm issued the signal that everyone feared: nuclear missiles launched by the United States were heading towards Moscow. In less than half an hour they would make an impact and the consequences would be catastrophic.

However, this lieutenant colonel had doubts about the veracity of the alarm. The protocol was clear: we had to respond immediately, without hesitation, even if this sparked an atomic confrontation. The coin was in the air, the future of humanity was at stake in those moments.

In this exciting and moving novel, based on real events, Eduardo Sguiglia reconstructs the life and conflicts of Petrov and, following in his footsteps, the course of the Soviet Union since the mid-20th century. The fight for communist ideals and their disappointment, Stalinism, the barbarity of war, the character and motivations of the partisans who resisted the Nazi invasion, the glory years of the superpower, the announced decline of the regime.

Also and of course, the moment when a lieutenant colonel saves the world from a massacre on an enormous scale, never seen before. The Redemption of Comrade Petrov shows that sometimes history depends on decisions made on the edge of the abyss. A man alone, with his expertise and his conscience, decided correctly; His life would never be the same again.

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Read a review of La redención de camarada Petrov. (Note this review is in Spanish).