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Ruslan Denisov” is the eleventh episode of Season 2 of The Blacklist and the thirty third episode overall. It originally aired on February 12, 2015 on NBC.


In the village in Uzbekistan, Father Nabiyev is conducting a service in a church. Armed men enter the church, and hold the priest and congregation up at gunpoint. The leader, Ruslan Denisov, finds a satellite phone hidden in the altar and orders the priest to call in. The priest uses the phone and identifies himself as Burke, Op-sec 3828.

Martin Wilcox of the Metro Police Department arrives at a house to talk to Susan Ames, wife of the harbor master killed in “The Decembrist”. She tells him that her husband Eugene has gone missing, and relates the information that he came home rattled after being held at gunpoint by an FBI agent searching for escapees from Cumberland. She provides Wilcox with the business card that Elizabeth Keen gave her husband.

Reddington talks to a hostile Elizabeth at the Post Office. Elizabeth informs him that since he only wants her for the Fulcrum, from now on they will only talk about cases, and nothing personal. He gives her a news article about the kidnapped priest. Father Nabiyev is CIA, which is a violation of executive orders against embedding agents as religious figures. He identifies the kidnapper as Ruslan Denisov, the leader of a group of revolutionaries known as the Supreme Republic of a Free, Righteous, and Independent Uzbekistan (SRU). He funds his revolution through the abduction and ransoming of senior execs of foreign corporations at prices above market standard.

Ruslan enters a room full of people in dog cages. His men shove Burke into one and drag another one out. The captive is informed his company has shown no interest in ransoming him back, and he is shot and killed.

Reddington states that lately Ruslan has become volatile and has cost him a lot of money. He warns Elizabeth that the CIA will do anything they can to keep it quiet. They aren't to be trusted.

Elizabeth runs through Ruslan's criminal history. Samar, Ressler, and Aram observe that this is a break in pattern for Ruslan, who usually goes after corporate executives. For the CIA to violate rules like this, there must be something big going on in the area.

Cooper and Wright meets with Hayworth of the CIA, trying to pin him down on whether Father Nabiyev is CIA. Hayworth refuses to confirm. Wright will only keep Hayworth in the loop they're trying to free is actually CIA, and gets something like an acknowledgment. Cooper is tapped to take point on the negotiations.

Elizabeth and Ressler arrive in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where they're met by Commander Kushan. He tells them they're there as observers only, and are not to interfere with what is an Uzbek military operation. They're ordered to surrender their weapons. Elizabeth and Ressler observe CIA agents, as well as another person in a Hugo Boss suit.

They arrive at the hotel to find Reddington telling raunchy stories to a group of men in expensive suits. Ressler warns Reddington that the CIA is here. Reddington points out Uzbekistan doesn't have an extradition treaty. He invites them to dinner. Ressler and Elizabeth go to the elevator, but the elevator stops mid-lift, the back wall opens, and they're kidnapped out of it.

Ressler and Elizabeth have bags removed from their heads to discover they're in a different building with Ruslan and his men. Ruslan claims to have been trying to get the FBI's attention for a while now, but only got it after kidnapping an American. He says he doesn't want any money, and shows them his room full of hostages. Business is good. The real reason he took Burke was that 25 years ago, his country sold rights to an American company, Anneca Oil, to build a pipeline through Tashkent. Now the pipeline is leaking, and the company shows no interest in fixing it.

Ruslan tells them that he took an executive of Anneca and told him that there were chemicals in the water that their children were drinking and bathing in, but the executive said the company did tests and the water was safe. Ruslan says he did a test of his own. He takes Ressler and Elizabeth to another room, where he fishes the executive out of a bath that he's been soaking in up to his neck. When the executive is removed from the water, he has terrible chemical burns. Ruslan returns him to Ressler and Elizabeth as a show of good faith and informs them negotiations for Burke start tomorrow.

At the hospital, Elizabeth reports what they saw to Cooper. Aram identifies the returned Anneca executive as Jeffrey Hanover, but Anneca didn't report him missing, apparently wanting to deal with the situation privately. Ressler speaks to Hanover's doctor, who tells him Hanover will survive but his injuries are due to prolonged exposure to benzene and polycyclic hydrocarbons, commonly associated with oil development.

As the doctor leaves, the Hugo Boss wearer enters the room and is surprised to find Ressler there. He introduces himself as Dean Walker, an Executive Vice President at Anneca. He lies, pretending he just arrived in Uzbekistan, but Ressler calls him on it. Walker admits he's been there 3 weeks, handling the situation privately on the family's behalf. He claims Anneca has nothing to hide, the pipeline is sound but that Ruslan himself has been sabotaging it as part of a scam.

Kushan arrives at the hospital and confronts Elizabeth and Ressler, accusing them of interfering. He places them under hotel arrest and threatens to kick them out of the country if they leave the building.

Ressler meets with Reddington in the hotel bar. Military guards are on them. Ressler speaks scornfully of Ruslan, while Reddington admits he's impressed by Ruslan's stated motives.

Ressler and Elizabeth enter the elevator again to make their next meeting. As before, they leave out the back of the elevator, this time willingly.

At the location of the negotiation, Ruslan quotes Ressler's words at the bar back to him, and introduces Reddington as his negotiator.

Cooper fills Wright and Hayworth in on what Elizabeth reported, giving details on their travel time and the likely vicinity of Ruslan's compound is, near the southeast base of the Zarafshan range. Hayworth wants to strike at the compound, but on Cooper's recommendation, Wright agrees it's premature.

Elizabeth is annoyed at Reddington's role in the negotiations. Ruslan takes them on a field trip around the village to see the impact of the pipeline leak and the sickness it's spreading. When Ressler repeats what Walker told him about Ruslan destroying the pipeline himself, Ruslan tells him that his brother died last year from the chemical poisoning. Elizabeth and Ressler agree the pipeline spill needs to be cleaned up.

Back at the hotel, Keen takes a phone call from Wilcox, who's been trying to reach her. He has questions about her encounter with the harbor master, saying he wasn't able to verify any escapes from Cumberland. She tells him that was just a cover because she couldn't reveal the real reason due to it being an FBI matter, and claims she can't tell Wilcox either.

At dinner, Elizabeth asks Reddington about the negotiation. He told Ruslan that they could have the State Department open an inquiry, but he wasn't interested. Reddington refuses to supply any more details, instead directing Elizabeth's attention to the Russian milonga tango being performed before them. He draws parallels to that and the art of negotiation. Meanwhile, Hayworth has given the location of the SRU compound to Kushan and his men, thus making it a local matter and not a CIA operation. He orders his CIA agent to make himself visible in public so they'll be disassociated with the strike. Kushan and his men raid the compound, killing several of Ruslan's men.

Reddington notices the CIA man making himself conspicuous in the restaurant, and seems to realize what that means.

Kushan's men report that they found no hostages.

On the phone, Cooper tells Elizabeth and Ressler about the raid. Cooper realizes that Heyworth fed the intel to the local authorities, even after he was ordered to stand down. Reddington enters and demands why Cooper trusted the CIA when he was warned explicitly against doing so. He reminds Cooper that he warned them about Ruslan being violent and unstable. Reddington no longer trusts Cooper. The negotiations are over.

Reddington finds Ruslan and his men unloading bodies from the raid. They find 1 surviving soldier from Kushan's unit who was left behind. Ruslan kills him. Ruslan goes to kill Burke, but Reddington convinces him not to by telling him a story about Bobby Fisher, the moral being to take the long view. He implies that Ruslan could be a true leader for his people. Reddington asks Burke about Zhabin, and convinces him to talk.

Leonid Zhabin is the former cabinet minister, part of the old Soviet regime. He ran the region from the late 1970s to the early 1990s and was responsible for the deal that opened the pipeline opportunity to the Americans. We see Zhabin in a guarded mansion flagellating himself. Burke notes that Zhabin is rich, mad, and lately very religious. He's responsible for all the sick people.

Reddington catches up to Zhabin in a church confessional. Ruslan and Reddington demand all the details on how the rights were sold to Anneca. Ruslan starts drowning Zhabin in the holy water, and Zhabin decides to talk.

Ressler and Elizabeth are under armed guard in the hotel. In private, Elizabeth confesses to a reluctant Ressler that she's in trouble. She relates what happened to the harbor master. He asks about witnesses.

In the police station, Wilcox interrogates “The Samoan”, who is very nervous. Wilcox asks him about Elizabeth Keen.

Reddington calls Elizabeth and says the negotiations are back on. He asks that Elizabeth bring Walker from Anneca along. Elizabeth objects due to Kushan's doubled guard. Reddington decides they'll come to the hotel.

“The Samoan” pretends not to know what Wilcox is talking about. Wilcox pulls out paperwork that “The Samoan” signed when Fish and Wildlife did a sweep for zebra mussels in the harbor. It proves “The Samoan” was present.

Reddington arrives at the hotel with Zhabin and meets Elizabeth, Ressler, and Walker. He relates the story of how Zhabin negotiated a pipeline deal with Anneca 4 years before the official date the pipeline project happened. In the first pipeline project, Anneca ignored safety standards and hundreds of people died and were buried in mass graves, which Ruslan now knows the location of. Anneca paid for a coverup and rebuilt the pipeline, but Zhabin saved the evidence. Ruslan wants Anneca to pull out of Uzbekistan entirely.

Walker asks for some water. Reddington offers him a glass of water taken from the village right above the pipeline. Walker doesn't drink it.

Reddington gives Anneca 24 hours to talk to the board, if they refuse to leave then the evidence will be released.

Walker does a press meeting to announce that Anneca is pulling out of Uzbekistan while Ressler and Elizabeth wash. They leave after getting word that Burke is being released outside the city.

In a stairwell, Reddington and Dembe stop Kushan.

“The Samoan” negotiates a deal with Wilcox, offering to lead him to the body.

A CIA team watches as the exchange to release Burke takes place. Back in the US, Heyworth orders them to kill Ruslan and capture Reddington on his signal. Cooper barges into Heyworth's office and threatens him with action from the Attorney General if anything happens to his agents. Heyworth orders his team to stand down.

In a village, Ruslan meets Reddington and asks for his help to leave the country. Reddington tells him that he's done something more remarkable than he realizes. He has a future, that he could be a leader for his country. He might spend time in jail, but he'll be a hero to his people. He could run Uzbekistan. Reddington gives Ruslan a large box, with the implication that Kushan is inside.

News reports that the government and French Oil conglomerate Savillion have reached a deal to nationalize a brand new pipeline. The deal will be worth billions. Elizabeth accuses Reddington of having an angle. Reddington introduces her to one of the men he was having drinks with when they arrived in Uzbekistan, an executive at Savillion.

Aram has identified the box from the last episode as some sort of recording technology from the late 1980s, 1990s, but doesn't know what it does. She asks him to promise not to tell Reddington about it.

Police uncover the harbor master's body. “The Samoan” has a deal for no jail time if he testifies. Wilcox asks him to tell him about Elizabeth Keen.

Press Release[]

AN ABDUCTION MOGUL KNOWN AS “RUSLAN DENISOV” KIDNAPS AN UNDERCOVER AGENT – When an undercover CIA agent is kidnapped by a band of separatists in Uzbekistan, the task force sets a rescue mission in motion. Red informs Agents Keen and Ressler that they are up against Ruslan Denisov, a very dangerous past associate.

Number on The Blacklist[]

  • 67

Unanswered Questions[]

  1. Was this episode a reference to the real-life American corporate and government policy?
    1. The CIA agent is sent to protect corporate interests.
    2. The CIA collaborates with the corporation to ensure that the local government remains under control.
  2. Elizabeth Keen
    1. Keen’s anger should not last long considering her previous actions after the death of Sam Scott.
    2. Keen’s anger with Red was counterbalanced by her anger over the oil leak and CIA interference.
    3. Why was Keen suprised that Red had created a new deal with Savillion? She realized that Red stole the hard drive in “General Ludd”.
    4. How will Keen save her FBI career? She will need Red’s help since Cooper might not intervene to stop the police investigation.
    5. Keen told Ressler the truth about Harbormaster Eugene Ames, that compromises Ressler. She showed a lack of emotion when told that Harbormaster Eugene Ames had a wife.
  3. Raymond Reddington
    1. Why did Red act so familiar with Keen and Donald Ressler in front of Denisov’s guard?
    2. Why was Red certain that Anecca Oil would agree to leave Uzbekistan? If Denisov had killed Burke then his plan with the French petroleum company Savillion would have failed.
    3. Was Red's payment from Savillion limited to the new government contract or did Red gain shareholder voting rights?
  4. Harold Cooper
    1. Why did Cooper tell Arnold Heyworth the location of the compound after Red’s warning?
    2. Why did Cooper give Wilcox Keen’s phone number? She was in Uzbekistan.
    3. Cooper’s confrontation with Arnold Heyworth gives Cooper another incentive to leave the FBI and earned him an enemy that can find a way to retaliate. In “Babylon 5”, the heroes eventually suffered for their moral, but politically inconvenient, actions. The other similarity is the use of side-by-side action. Red described the milonga dance routine of negotiation while Kushan raided the compound. Other media such as “Flash Gordon” and “Capricorn One” used imagery where the dialogue contradicted the action.
  5. Ruslan Denisov
    1. How did Denisov learn of Burke’s identity?
      1. A: It is likely that the kidnapped Russian representative of Anneca Oil gave up Burke's identity while being tortured by Ruslan.
      2. Q: Why would he know the identity of a CIA agent?
    2. Will Denisov go into politics? Red can supply numerous historical examples where the political actions proved more successful than the resistence/criminal actions.
    3. Did Denisov choose his victims based on the company’s record? Red said the Denisov would spend only a few years in prison. Red would only say that if the kidnapping victims represented corporations that had a negative public image and record.
    4. Why did Denisov fear a prison term? He has escaped arrest so far.
    5. Denisov’s actions are similar to an episode of “Burn Notice”. The villain takes action after a corporation refuses to solve a chemical spill. The villain lacks understanding about the endgame and the reality of corporate policies.
  6. Anecca Oil
    1. Why did Anecca Oil build pipelines that leaked? In addition to anger/violence from the local population, oil leaks mean less money. In the book and film “The Wages of Fear” the United States based petroleum company takes action to repair the damaged pipeline since they are losing money.
    2. Why did Red and Denisov allow Anecca Oil to cover up the environmental damage? Where they afraid of a civil war?
  7. Arnold Heyworth
    1. Why did Arnold Heyworth want Red dead?
      1. A: He wanted Ruslan dead. He wanted Red captured.
      2. Q: Why captured? Was it because of the Factory escape in “Luther Braxton: Conclusion”?
      3. A: When Red was in the Factory, it was stated that they wanted information from Red.
    2. How credible is Cooper’s threat concerning prosecution? Arnold Heyworth can deny involvement and/or use legal loopholes to avoid prosecution.
      1. A: The threat of prosecution would be enough to end any career advancement for Heyworth.
    3. Why did the CIA and Anecca Oil have easily identifiable agents when Keen and Ressler landed? Ressler saw the Hugo Boss fashion and Keen recognized the CIA agents.
  8. Kushan
    1. Was Kushan on Anecca Oil’s payroll?
    2. What will happen to Kushan?
  9. Leonid Zhabin
    1. Was Zhabin named after Leonid Brezhnev?
    2. Why did Zhabin feel guilt over the pipeline leaks?
    3. Why did Zhabin fear a prison term? He could use bribery to avoid prison.
  10. Aram Mojtabai
    1. Why was Aram unable to discover the technology of the Fulcrum? It is at least 20 years old.
      1. A: Many technological innovations over the past 20 years have proved to be dead ends, either beause they have been superseded or were expensive to commercially produce.
    2. Why did Aram Mojtabai make the statement about spies and religious cover identities? He should be more aware of black market reality. Samar Navabi responded with a statement about the religious conflicts in the Middle East.
  11. Why was it suspicious that a priest (Burke) had a cell phone?
    1. A. The suspicion was that he had a satellite phone not a regular cell phone.

Slanders on the FBI[]


Main star[]

Guest star[]


  • Dante Nero as Samoan
  • Jonathan C. Kaplan as Operative One
  • Ian Jarvis as Claude Hippeau
  • Stephanie Berry as Susan Ames
  • Nicole Ansari as Doctor
  • Ivan Quintanilla as Adjunt
  • Dawn Yanek as Reporter
  • Zarif Kabier as Denisov's Man
  • Sophia Mahmud as Elderly Woman
  • Crystal Sha'nae as Assistant
  • Franklin Okeda Smith as Harbormaster


External Links[]

Season 2 Episodes
 · Lord Baltimore  · Monarch Douglas Bank  · Dr. James Covington  · Dr. Linus Creel  · The Front  · The Mombasa Cartel  · The Scimitar  · The Decembrist  · Luther Braxton  · Luther Braxton: Conclusion  · Ruslan Denisov  · The Kenyon Family  · The Deer Hunter  · T. Earl King VI  · The Major  · Tom Keen  · The Longevity Initiative  · Vanessa Cruz  · Leonard Caul  · Quon Zhang  · Karakurt  · Tom Connolly  ·