Anatoly Knyazev is a recurring character in the TV series Arrow. For most of the time, he is a close friend to Oliver Queen. However, after their falling-out, he returns to Star City as a villain. He is an anti-hero in the second and fifth seasons and one of the secondary antagonists of the sixth season.
Knyazev is a Russian crime lord and the former leader of the Solntsevskaya Bratva. After having been captured by Professor Ivo, Knyazev was able to flee with help from Oliver Queen, forming a bond between them. They crossed paths again when Oliver arrived in Russia to take down the crime lord Konstantin Kovar. However, after Oliver returns to Starling City and becomes the vigilante Green Arrow, he is no further willing to accept Anatoly's criminal empire, causing a falling out between the two.
He is portrayed by David Nykl. His younger version is portrayed by George Klimovich.
Anatoly is a former captain of the Russian criminal organization Solntsevskaya Bratva.
Imprisonment on the Amazo
After Oliver has been captured by Anthony Ivo's men and has been imprisoned aboard the Amazo, he is put in the cell next to Anatoly's. After he has been shot by one of the guards, Anatoly reveals to the wounded Oliver that this is a ritual they all had to go through. He nods to the pliers and the bandages next to Oliver and reveals that it he has to pull the bullet out of the wound; and their capturers do this to assess the strength of the prisoners.
When it is revealed that Ivo's torturer is none other than Oliver's girlfriend Sara Lance, who he thought had died during the sinking of the ship, Sara makes plans to free Oliver. At night, she opens Oliver's cage, which wakes up Anatoly as well. While Oliver moves to flee, Anatoly begs him not to forget him and the other prisoners. Oliver promises him that he will return.
A few weeks after Oliver's escape, Ivo has Anatoly brought into his laboratory. Anatoly tries to reason with him and reveals his connection to the Bratva - promising Ivo millions if he lets him go - but Ivo declines and states that he does not need money; he needs an eye for his research. Before Ivo can rip out the eye, however, an explosion is visible at the beach of Lian Yu and Ivo orders his men to investigate. He has Anatoly brought back to his cell and soon after, the captured Oliver is brought back into his former cell as well. When Oliver tells Anatoly that he promised him to return, Anatoly sarcastically comments that they are basically safe. However, it is revealed that Oliver deliberately let himself get captured in order to allow Slade Wilson and Sara to get onboard the ship. In the ensuing chaos, Sara frees all prisoners while Slade slaughters Ivo's mercenaries.
After the prisoners have been freed, they arm themselves and fight against Ivo's mercenaries. When Anatoly's magazine is empty and he is almost shot by a mercenary, Oliver sweeps in just in time to defeat the man and save Anatoly's life. As the ship is about to crash, severals explosions have been triggered already and the fighting is all but over, Anatoly, Sara, Oliver and others decide that they have to make for the island. They jump off board but when Oliver tries to follow them, he is held back by Slade and taken captive. When the rest of the group get ashore, Anatoly realizes that Oliver is missing.
Escape from Amazo and Lian Yu
Together, the group reaches Oliver's former hideout but are soon contacted by Slade via walkie talkie. Slade reveals to them that the Amazo has been damaged and that he needs one of the escaped prisoners, Hendrick, to fix it. He offers to exchange Oliver for Hendrick and when Hendrick draws a gun to defend himself from being exchanged, Anatoly provokes him so that Sara can knock him out from behind. When Hendrick regains consciousness, Anatoly and the remaining refugees have already tied up Hendrick. However, one of the escapees refuses to hand over Hendrick, reminding them that Slade will murder Hendrick the moment he has no further use for him.
After listening to the man's arguments instead, Anatoly and Sara decide that they have to kill Slade instead. Together with Anatoly, Sara heads out into the island where Anatoly defuses one of the land mines and takes the detonator. Sara then reveals her plan to Anatoly - they will hand over Hendrick but trigger the explosives hidden on him; thus killing Slade. After hearing this cold-blooded plan, Anatoly admits that Sara starts to scare him. However, later, during the deal Slade realizes the explosives on Hendrick and defuses them. Nonetheless, he leaves the group alive and leaves Oliver and Ivo with them, so that they can live out the rest of their lives on the island. After Ivo has been left with them, Anatoly plans to get revenge on Ivo for everything he did to them, but Ivo reveals that he knows a way to create an antidote for the Mirakuru in Slade's blood. Although Anatoly believes that Ivo only lies to save his skin, Oliver and Sara talk to him and learn the truth. After putting the dying Ivo out of his misery, the team decides to use Ivo's information to find counter-serum for the Mirakuru aboard the Amazo.
In order to reach the Amazo, Oliver tasks Anatoly with repairing the WW 2 submarine that has been stranded on Lian Yu. Although Anatoly manages to get the submarine working again, the ship is stuck and they need to free it from the rocks before they can use it to reach the Amazo. Using torpedoes, Anatoly and Oliver free the submarine and Anatoly steers it towards the Amazo. When they realize that the Amazo has been repaired and is about to leave the bay. Oliver orders Anatoly to bring the submarine close enough to the Amazo for him to swim across and also tells him to use the remaining torpedo to destroy the Amazo if Oliver is not back in one hour. Although Anatoly calls the whole idea crazy, he agrees to the plan and promises to destroy the Amazo in one hour. Before Oliver leaves the submarine, Anatoly embraces him and calls him a friend, promising if they meet again and Oliver needs anything from him, he will only need to ask.
After two hours have run out and Oliver has not returned, Anatoly makes good on his promise and fires the torpedo at the ship. He then uses the submarine to return to Russia, unaware that Oliver and Sara have, in fact, survived.
Meeting with Oliver in Russia
After Oliver and his associates Felicity Smoak and John Diggle have been sent to Moskow by A.R.G.U.S. to find the missing A.R.G.U.S. agent Lyla Michaels, he uses the opportunity to meet with Knyazev. Anatoly is delighted to see Oliver and welcomes him warmly. Anatoly offers them drinks and when Diggle refuses, Oliver reveals to him that this would be considered impolite. After all have drunk their vodka, Anatoly reveals to them that Lyla has seemingly tried to break into the dreaded gulag Koshmar. Although Anatoly warns Oliver of the dangers in the gulag, Diggle is determined to get into the gulag to break out Lyla. Impressed by Diggle's determination, Knyazev reveals that a corrupt guard in the gulag is on his payroll.
Knyazev provides Diggle with a lot of drugs, so that Diggle can be caught by the Russian authorities and be imprisoned in the gulag. He also gives them the identity of his inside man and warns them that their chances of success are not very high. When Diggle is arrested by the Russian police, Anatoly watches from his car and then calls Oliver to inform him that so far, everything is going according to their plan. While Diggle is in Koshmar, Anatoly, Oliver and Felicity meet with a corrupt military official who sells them a military truck they can use as an escape vehicle. Although the buyer then tries to double-cross Anatoly, Oliver whispers something to him in Russian that makes him change his mind. The buyer than hands over the key to the truck to Oliver, who in turn hands it to Anatoly.
After the time has come, Anatoly, Oliver and Felicity don Russian uniforms and use the army truck they bought to drive up to the prison. According to their time table, Diggle should emerge with Lyla soon but Anatoly warns them that breaking out of prison is not as easy as it sounds. Soon after, a bomb explodes and Diggle escapes with Lyla and with Deadshot. After they have put considerable distance between them and the prison, they let Deadshot go. Anatoly then drives the rest of them to the airport and the team successfully returns to Starling City.
However, after Oliver has become the vigilante known as the Green Arrow and has called in multiple favors from Anatoly and the Bratva without giving any favors in return, Anatoly considers them even. With Oliver's new, honorable path, the partnership between the two cannot exist any longer.
When Oliver leads a group of news reporters to an abandoned warehouse, revealing to them that he has made a deal with a Markovian company and that the company will bring new jobs to Star City, they are suddenly ambushed by armed gangsters. Oliver, the reporters and the Markovian delegates make it back to the bus but while trying to drive off, the bus is forced to stop when they come under heavy fire. The gangsters approach the bus and when the door is opened, Oliver is greeted by the sight of his old friend Anatoly.
Anatoly, simply greeting Oliver as "Mr. Mayor", does not reveal in front of the reporters that he knows Oliver. Instead, he claims that he has no business with the mayor and has instead come for the Markovian delegates, calling them his Markovian cousins. Angrily, Oliver whispers that they are legitimate businessmen and Anatoly replies that he never made any claim that his own business was illegitimate, except if Oliver were to know anything he as mayor should not know. After Anatoly's henchmen pull the frightened Markovian delegates from the bus and flee with them, Anatoly tells Oliver that they will be in touch. Soon after, Knyazev demands a ransom of 20 million dollars for the delegates and threatens to execute the delegates in twelve hours should the city refuse to pay up.
Felicity and Curtis manage to track Anatoly to a Russian restaurant in Star City. Team Arrow attacks in full force and they manage to take down several henchmen. They are able to free the captives held at the restaurant but realize that one hostage - the company's CEO - is missing. The same night, Anatoly calls Oliver privately. When Oliver asks why Anatoly is doing this, Anatoly reveals that he needs money and has heard that Star City recently received $20,000,000 to rebuild the police precinct destroyed by Alex Faust. He also reveals to Oliver that he has been exiled from the Bratva due to his friendship with Oliver - they think he is weak. He tells Oliver that he will show them that he is not weak, and also that he and Oliver are not friends anymore. He reveals to Oliver that he poisoned the remaining delegate and that while he has the antidote, he will not give it to the man until paid.
Once again, Felicity is able to track down Anatoly, this time to an abandoned shipyard. The team arrives there, carrying an antidote for the poison the delegate has been injected. While venturing through the shipyard and taking down Anatoly's men, Oliver eventually encounters Anatoly with the captured delegate. Anatoly claims that he asked for 20 millions because he knew Oliver had it. He asks whether Oliver wants to trade in the man's life for a new police station but Oliver claims that he won't. He shoots an arrow into the delegate's chest, which is - unbeknownst to Anatoly - covered with the antidote to the poison. However, Anatoly quickly deduces that the arrow contains an antidote and, claiming that he never got his money, shoots the delegate from behind. Oliver is shocked and asks Anatoly what happened to him, claiming that even Gregor would not have done that. Anatoly replies that Gregor would have done so and reveals that Oliver only did not see it because he was too naive, he still is.
Oliver claims that this is entirely on Anatoly, stating that he used to be an honorable man. Anatoly replies that he still is an honorable man; after all, he could have planted a bomb at the school of Oliver's son or could have kidnapped and tortured him. Anatoly turns to leave and Oliver draws an arrow, telling Anatoly not to make another move. However, Anatoly replies that Oliver should not bluff, they both know that Oliver won't kill him. He keeps walking off but Oliver calls him once again, asking why Anatoly leaked a photo of Oliver as the Green Arrow to the press. Turning back one last time, Anatoly reveals that he did not and then leaves the building.
Working with Cayden James
It is eventually revealed that Anatoly, along with Ricardo Diaz, Black Siren, Vigilante and Boots, works with the master hacker Cayden James - united in their goal to take down the Green Arrow. Oliver later confronts Cayden at a warehouse and seemingly has the upper hand. However, suddenly Anatoly Knyazev enters the room with several armed mercenaries. Through another door, Diaz arrives with even more henchmen and cuts free Black Siren, who had previously been defeated by Oliver. Vigilante turns up as well - meaning that Oliver is severely outnumbered. Unable to fight this many enemies, Oliver flees by using a rope arrow.
After Cayden has been tricked by Team Arrow into believing that Bertinelli has called a highly effective death squad to take him down, he sends Diaz to the warehouse where the squad is supposedly located. However, once Diaz shows up there with his mercenaries, resulting in a shootout. Together with the rest of Cayden's associates, Anatoly arrives again as well and orders Oliver to stand down as he is severely outnumbered. Due to explosives he planted earlier, Oliver is able to escape. Anatoly rejoins the rest of his team who have captured Bertinelli. On Cayden's orders, Diaz executes Bertinelli with a shot to the head after the latter has agreed to leave the port to Cayden.
After an attack on a safezone has failed, Anatoly, among every other member of Cayden's organization, is called to the wake of their fallen companion Sheck. After Vigilante has been revealed as the traitor responsible for Sheck's death, Cayden has Anatoly tazer Vigilante and orders Anatoly and Diaz to torture him for information. After realizing that Vigilante's cover is blown, Team Arrow attacks the compound. Hearing the sounds of battle, Diaz mentions to Anatoly that it seems that Oliver has finally found them. Anatoly replies that it took him longer than expected.
While the team is attacking, Anatoly and Diaz are tasked with transferring Cayden's thermobaric bomb to another facility. To prevent Oliver from attacking the truck, Anatoly reveals to him that he has several hostages in the compound, tied to a bomb that will go off in under five minutes. While he is explaining to Oliver the obvious choice he has - finding the bomb or stopping the villains - Oliver destroys the walkie-talkie, preventing Anatoly from speaking to him more. Realizing that Oliver destroyed the walkie, Anatoly tosses his walkie away and enters the truck with Diaz. Together with Anatoly's truck, several other trucks leave the compound as well so that Oliver will not know which truck holds the actual bomb.
Threatened by Cayden James
Having decided to launch the thermobaric bomb, Cayden heads back into his new makeshift lair where he meets with Diaz and the remaining team. He tells them that Arclight is in full procedure and that it is now time for them to end their partnership. Cayden tells them that they will be air-lifted out of Star City before it is destroyed and that respective share in the blackmail money will be wired into offshore accounts after they all have successfully escaped the city. Furthermore, Cayden thanks each of them for helping him in his project - stressing the importance Arclight means to him. As the cabal disbands, a touched Cayden once more thanks all of them in helping him getting justice for his son.
While waiting for the extraction, Diaz deals with his frustration by ramming his knife into the table. Anatoly tries to calm him, claiming that Cayden would not let his friends die, but Diaz replies that he is not waiting to find out. Claiming that the extraction Cayden promised has not shown up yet, Diaz leaves the headquarter in order to find protection for himself. After he is gone, Laurel tells Anatoly that they might have to consider that Diaz is right and Cayden is indeed abandoning them.
Being the only one who remained faithful, Anatoly is also the only one to be present when the extract helicopter actually arrives. Anatoly heads to the roof but before the helicopter can land, several flashbang grenades go off. Realizing that Oliver has come, Anatoly draws his gun but the extract helicopter flies off without him. Oliver then disarms Anatoly with an arrow, to which Anatoly replies by telling him that if he wants to send Anatoly to prison, the prison should better be located in another city. Oliver furiously states that the bomb is not going off. He accuses Anatoly of having played both Cayden and Oliver and also claims that Anatoly is the one behind the death of Cayden's son. Outraged, Anatoly replies that Oliver has gone insane and that he already told Oliver that he had nothing to do with it. Not willing to take Anatoly's word for it, Oliver knocks him out in order to deliver him to Cayden James. Led by Oliver and Diggle, Anatoly is the first of Cayden's former henchmen to arrive at the theatre where Cayden has stored the bomb.
When Diaz arrives soon after, he asks Cayden whether he truly believes one of his former comrades killed his son. Cayden replies that he knows it and even when Anatoly is insulted that Cayden would trust people in masks over people he does business with and Diaz agrees with him, Cayden remains stubborn. He reveals that he does not trust people as much as data and he has ample evidence that one of his comrades betrayed him. Suddenly, Black Siren realizes that her power-dampening collar is malfunctioning and uses the opportunity to unleash a sonic scream that blasts everybody off their feet. Realizing the chance the incident offers, Anatoly flees from the main room and deeper into the theatre but is pursued by Rene and Curtis. While the two try to locate Anatoly, talking about how Oliver is a walking death trap, Anatoly ambushes them, takes Curtis hostage and asks the two who they think taught Oliver all about traps. He then lunges at Rene and disarms him. After taking Rene's gun, Anatoly fires at him several times while making his retreat. Keeping the two from following him by firing shots at them while he retreats, Anatoly successfully escapes from the theatre.
Working with Diaz
After the imprisoned Cayden has been murdered by Ricardo Diaz, who is revealed to have been playing both Oliver and Cayden, Anatoly still keeps working with him. After Black Siren has fooled the city into believing that she is Earth-1's Laurel Lance, one of Diaz' corrupt policemen takes her from hospital and delivers her to Anatoly. Anatoly sarcastically comments her new position but Laurel then speaks up, telling him that Diaz killed Cayden. Anatoly reveals that he knows and that Diaz told him. Laurel is shocked that Anatoly seems not the slightest bit concerned that Diaz manipulated the two of them the whole time. However, Anatoly replies that he is not sentimental and that he is in the city for two reasons - revenge against Oliver and money. He states that he is happy to work with whoever can get him either.
While Anatoly leads Black Siren deeper into the building, he sarcastically comments that Diaz' feelings were hurt when Black Siren tried to run - almost as if she did not trust him. Laurel replies that she still doesn't understand how Anatoly does but Anatoly tells her that it is simply a reason of money. He also claims that Diaz' plan of controlling the city is far better than Cayden's plan of destroying it.
When Oliver and his team attack Diaz' headquarter to free Roy Harper, Anatoly is one of the fighters to engage them. However, Oliver knocks him to the ground with ease. Disgusted by his former friend, Oliver asks if Anatoly is now a simple gun for hire. Equally disgusted, Anatoly replies that he used to be the pakhan of the Bratva and that it was Oliver who cost him that. Oliver then leaves Anatoly with Diggle while he himself goes after Diaz.
New Contact with Oliver
Although Anatoly managed to escape captivity, the SCPD soon heads out to capture him. While Anatoly is meeting with a client in a busy market, a task force led by Dinah Drake and supported by Team Arrow follows him into an alley. After Anatoly has handed a briefcase to his client, the trap springs and Anatoly is surrounded and arrested. While one policeman cuffs him, Anatoly remarks that he saw the man's face and that this cannot be good for him.
After Anatoly has been put in one of the interrogation rooms, Oliver visits him there. Oliver claims that he came to see Anatoly knocked up and Anatoly tells him to enjoy it while it lasts. When Oliver tells Anatoly that he knows that Captain Hill is on Diaz' payroll, Anatoly laughs and tells Oliver that not only the police force but the entire city is under Diaz' control. The extent of Diaz' power is revealed when the District Attourney Armand informs Oliver that Anatoly was not arrested with an arrest warrant and that, accordingly, they cannot prosecute him. After Anatoly has been released, he and Diaz confront the policeman who arrested Anatoly and kill him as a message to the SCPD.
Oliver eventually gets more and more desparate in his fight against Diaz, who seems to have rallied the whole city against him. In order to stop Diaz, Oliver plans to get Anatoly back on his side. To do so, Oliver travels to Moscow where he makes a deal with one of the Bratva leaders. After doing a favor for the leader, Oliver gets a dagger which he is supposed to show Anatoly, who will know what it means. Oliver returns to Star City, where he infiltrates Anatoly's hideout. He knocks out all of his men but Diaz is not impressed or frightened. Oliver reveals himself and claims that he wants to talk. Anatoly replies that they stopped talking a year ago and asks how Oliver found him. Oliver then holds out the knife he got from the Bratva leader and reveals to Anatoly that he paid Anatoly's debt to the organization - Anatoly is no longer banished and can go home.
Oliver reminds Anatoly that he claimed to be an honorable man and states that Anatoly must know that Diaz is not. Oliver asks Anatoly to help him to stop Diaz but Anatoly uses a tazer on Oliver and chains him to a chair. Once Oliver regains consciousness, Anatoly reveals that he plans to hand Oliver over to Diaz. While he thanks Oliver for fixing his relationship with the Bratva, he also reveals his bitterness about having been exiled by the Bratva after everything he did for them. He claims that Diaz, on the other hand, will reward him handsomely. During the following conversation, Oliver reveals to Anatoly that he is working alone, without his team, since he considered himself too distracted, which allowed Diaz to strike. Irritated, Anatoly replies that if Oliver thinks that this is the reason Diaz beat him, Oliver is an even bigger fool than he expected.
Despite Oliver's best efforts to appeal to Anatoly's conscience and their old friendship, Anatoly eventually delivers Oliver to Diaz' headquarter. Before the two enter the room, Anatoly acknowledges that he might be betraying himself by working with Diaz. However, he adds that one year ago, Oliver betrayed Anatoly when he trusted him so everything Anatoly is doing, he is doing because of Oliver. Anatoly then hands over Oliver to Diaz, who starts brutally beating up his chained captive. Eventually, Anatoly objects, claiming that fighting Oliver like this is unfair and shows weakness. In order to prove his strenght, Diaz has Oliver freed from his chains and orders Oliver to fight him in a fair fight. Although Oliver is able to beat up Diaz and put him in a chokehold, Diaz cheats by wounding Oliver with a knife. After Oliver has fainted, Diaz stumbles off, not realizing that this dirty trick cost him Anatoly's respect.
After Oliver regains consciousness in his cell, Anatoly visits him. He hands Oliver some bandages and Oliver thanks Anatoly for giving him the chance to fight Diaz. Anatoly admits that the battle showed him which one of the two fighters has honor and realizes that this was Oliver's plan from the beginning; he let himself be captured by Diaz so Anatoly could witness his dishonesty first-hand. Indirectly confirming this, Oliver claims that he counted on Anatoly to be the man he knew - his friend - and Anatoly reveals that after Oliver has put on his bandages, Anatoly has plans to smuggle him out of the building. Before this can happen, however, a henchman enters and reveals to Anatoly that Diaz wants to see Oliver. The meeting leads to Oliver being arrested by the SCPD because Diaz ordered that Oliver's trial for being the Green Arrow is continued soon.
- This is an adaptation of the DC comic villain KGBeast.