General Leonid Pushkin – A Key Figure in The Living Daylights Plot
General Leonid Pushkin is a Soviet general and successor of the long standing Anatol Gogol. General Pushkin is a man of stature and intrigue, and his character is brought to life by British actor, John Rhys-Davies, making his sole appearance in the 1987 Bond film, The Living Daylights.
Stepping into his new role, General Pushkin becomes instrumental in the unfolding narrative, unexpectedly aligning with Bond following former Soviet General Koskov‘s rogue actions.
General Leonid Pushkin
Georgi Koskov, a supposed Soviet defector, reports to MI6 that the KGB’s old policy, Smert Spionam or “Death to Spies,” is reinstated by the new KGB head, General Leonid Pushkin. And when Koskov mysteriously disappears from an MI6 safe-house, the assumption is Moscow is his destination.
M directs Bond to find Pushkin in Tangiers, Morocco, and “take him out” to prevent an escalation in agent killings and diplomatic tensions. Even though Bond’s familiarity with Pushkin initially makes him skeptical about Koskov’s claims, he agrees to the mission when he discovers a note with the phrase “Smert Spionam” at the 004 agent murder scene.
In the meantime, Pushkin meets Brad Whitaker, an American arms dealer in Tangiers, and informs him about the cancellation of a previously arranged arms deal between Koskov and Whitaker.
When Bond arrives in Tangiers, he confronts Pushkin in his hotel suite, where the General is preparing for a rendezvous with his mistress, Rubavitch. Pushkin denies any connection to “Smert Spionam,” asserting that the KGB decommissioned the policy years ago and reveals that Koskov is on the run from an embezzlement charge.
After this, Bond and Pushkin concoct a plan to fake Pushkin’s assassination. During a trade convention in Tangiers, Bond “kills” Pushkin. Unknowingly, Bond saves Pushkin’s life, because Necros was on the verge of shooting Pushkin when Bond shoots him first. Pushkin’s death turns out to be a ruse, complete with a Kevlar vest and blood pack, to deceive Necros, Koskov, and Whitaker.
Pushkin resurfaces after Bond’s return to Tangiers and the death of Whitaker. Arriving on the scene, Pushkin rescues Bond by shooting Sergeant Stagg.
His men then escort Koskov, who feigns delight at Pushkin’s survival and tries to dupe him into believing Whitaker held him captive. However, Pushkin arrests Koskov, arranging for his return to Moscow “in a diplomatic bag.”
Once Koskov is detained, Pushkin aids Bond in exonerating his love interest, Kara Milovy, who was unknowingly manipulated by Koskov, securing her amnesty.
John Rhys-Davies, a Welsh actor born in 1944, has had a prolific career in film and television since the 1970s. Raised in Tanganyika (now Tanzania), he studied drama at the University of East Anglia and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
His breakthrough came as Sallah in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, leading to roles in blockbusters The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, Star Trek: Voyager, and The Living Daylights. He’s also known for his voice work, including Treebeard in The Lord of the Rings, where he physically portrayed the dwarf Gimli.
In his personal life, Rhys-Davies is a father of three and splits his time between New Zealand and the Isle of Man.