- "I am an honorable man. Did I have bomb planted in your son's school? Did I have him kidnapped, tortured? No, because even though we stand apart, I am still good man."
- —Anatoly to Oliver Queen[src]
Anatoly Knyazev is the exiled Pakhan (godfather) of the Solntsevskaya Bratva (previously a captain) and a former KGB agent who, in 2007, was held captive by the late Anthony Ivo on the Amazo; there he met Oliver Queen and formed a close friendship with him that lasted for almost a decade until the moment their respective roles as a vigilante and a gangster drived them in a battle; resulting in a huge falling out between the two and in Anatoly joining Cayden James' criminal cabal.
Life in the Soviet Union
In 1986, as a child, Anatoly Knyazev worked as a lookout for Solntsevskaya Bratva. As the time-traveling Sara Lance entered the locker room of the banya and engaged in a fight with members of Russian Bratva, Anatoly almost immediately ran from the room.
At some point in his life, Anatoly became an operative of the KGB, secret service of the Soviet Union. According to Knyazev himself, it "taught him many things", particularly information on the workings of landmines. Eventually Anatoly raised to the Bratva ranks until he became a captain.
Prisoner on the Amazo
Under unknown circumstances Anatoly was captured by Anthony Ivo around 2007, made prisoner on the Amazo and taken on Lian Yu. During this time Anatoly was forced to undergo their "trial" by digging out a bullet in his torso and stitching it up.Some time after this, he met Oliver Queen, and was quick to get along with. After Oliver escaped, he promised Anatoly he'd come back for the others. Later, right when Ivo was about to gouge out Anatoly's eye, Oliver set off an explosion on the beach that distracted Ivo, so he never did actually remove Anatoly's eye, instead he took measures sending his men to the beach to capture Oliver, Slade, and Sara. Oliver allowed himself to be captured so as to feed Ivo misinformation on the whereabouts of Slade and Sara, effectively allowing them to come aboard unnoticed and allowing Sara to free the other prisoners. The plan succeeded and Anatoly and the others were freed. Upon returning to land, Anatoly was the first to notice Oliver's disappearance and they discovered that Slade Wilson had taken Oliver prisoner. They later agreed to trade Oliver for an engineer they had and attempted to kill Slade with landmines but failed. Oliver and Sara then fixed a nearby submarine to destroy the Amazo in the event they failed to cure Slade of the Mirakuru. Anatoly waited for a time limit given to him by Oliver and reluctantly destroyed the ship, dragging Sara, Slade, and Oliver to their presumed deaths.
Anatoly and the other former prisoners of the Amazo later managed to leave the island, presumably with the Japanese submarine, and return to their homes.
In KrasnoyarskAnatoly and Oliver are later reunited in Russia, where the latter intended to hunt and kill government strongman and part-time crime boss Konstantin Kovar, a brutal ruler of Krasnoyarsk. Anatoly, who oversaw the Krasnoyarsk division of Bratva at that time, recognized Oliver, saved him from death and, in return for what he did for him on Lian Yu, offered to help him become a full-time member of the Solntsevskaya Bratva, a membership he needed for his mission. After a dangerous initiation process, Anatoly brought Oliver before the other Bratva bosses in Krasnoyarsk, who, after listening to the American, agreed to give him formal Bratva membership, nicknaming him "Kapiushon".
Some times after this, Anatoly introduces Oliver to Bratva Pakhan Ishmael Gregor, who send him on an undercover mission to destroy one of Kovar's casinos. However after he discovered that Pakhan Gregor had made a deal with Kovar, Anatoly questioned his decision as it betrayed the organization, so he was beaten badly by Pakhan's men. After Oliver visited him and found out about what happened, he proposed to Anatoly a plot to kill the Pakhan. However, before the two could decide their moves, Gregor and his men attacked them in the hospital where Anatoly had recovered.
Knowing prior that he and Oliver could be killed, Anatoly invoked the "spros dopros", a Bratva trial in which the Pakhan is asked to answer for his deeds. Before the process, Oliver broke into Kovar's home finding evidence of Gregor's corruption, therefore the majority of the Bratva captains decided to vote for Anatoly as the new Pakhan; then Gregor's men opened fire on them starting a mutiny.
After the shootout most of the captains are killed and Gregor escaped with some of his men intending to promote new captains loyal to him; however Anatoly and Oliver, dressed in his green suit, attacked Gregor during the meeting with his loyal Bratva members managing to kill him.As the new Pakhan, Anatoly met with Konstantin Kovar to question him about the deal he made with Gregor, learning that the governor planned to overthrow the Russian government using a nerve gas during an evening into his casino. Anatoly, Oliver and their fellow Bratva companions tried to prevent Kovar from aquiring the weapon but failed and are then forced to infiltrate the casino battling Kovar's criminal organization; however they are betrayed by Viktor and taken under custody by Kovar, who then tried to kill them and all the people into the building with the gas. After Oliver managed to stop Kovar's plan subduing him, Anatoly tried to convince his friend to bring him to justice, but Oliver choose to stab him instead. Later, Anatoly made Oliver a Bratva captain.
Oliver then asked Anatoly if he could get transportation back to Lian Yu, as it was the one alibi that could explain why he had been gone so long. Anatoly asked him to reconsider, wanting him to become a full-time Bratva member. After Queen refused the request, Knyazev asked Oliver to visit a hospital with him. They saw many sick children and Anatoly revealed that he wanted to steal medicine from a warehouse to help the kids and have their faith in the Bratva. This heist would also act as a goodbye celebration for the both of them. After stealing and distributing the medication, Anatoly once again tried to persuade Oliver to stay. Again, he kindly rejected the offer. Anatoly relented, wondering what he would become without Oliver at his side.
Later, Anatoly and Oliver returned to Lian Yu together to enact Oliver's plan to be found there. Upon the shore, Oliver found Slade Wilson's mask and impaled it with an arrow, believing that it was a sign. He then bring Anatoly to the graves of all the people he buried on the island, explaining why he has to complete his mission, once he will return home. Before leaving, Anatoly tells him that he bribe some fishermen to come to the island in 48 hours to rescue him and made it look like it was just a coincidence that they found him. He also gave him a fake beard and wig from one of his KGB friends to further complete his story as a castaway.
Moving to Moscow
Eventually, Anatoly moved to Moscow and, in 2013, he met again with Oliver to help him find information regarding the whereabouts of Lyla Michaels. They found out she broke into a "gulag" prison known as Koshmar, but evidently had trouble breaking back out. He later helped them break Lyla Michaels, John Diggle, and Floyd Lawton out.
Sometime after that, Anatoly heard that Oliver asked for a favor from Alexi Leonov, but when Alexi asked for a favor in return, Oliver pointed a gun on his head. He also heard that because of this favor, Alexi got killed. Anatoly got angry on Oliver for breaking the Bratva's sacred rules and realized that he shouldn't welcome Oliver as a Bratva member anymore. He also decided that Oliver is not welcome in Russia.
Dissent among the ranksIn 2017, Oliver decided to come to Russia to stop general J.G. Walker from selling a nuclear device to a group of separatists form Markovia. Due to Anatoly being his only friend in Russia, Oliver tried to contact him, but Anatoly didn't respond, probably because of what happened with Alexi. Oliver came to Russia anyway, and as Anatoly met him at the airport, he punched Oliver in the face saying that he should never have come back. Anatoly reminded Oliver that he once disobeyed the orders of Alexi Leonov, and told him that in doing so, he broke the sacred rules and was no longer welcome. Oliver and Diggle met with him later that day to request the Bratva's help to catch Walker and reminded Anatoly that the only reason that he was Pakhan was because Oliver had killed Gregor. Anatoly consented to help, but on the condition that Oliver help him with mob business. After Queen refused, Anatoly told them that there was no way he would help. Queen later returned, asking what was required of him. Anatoly sent Oliver and Dinah Drake to shut down a rival criminal outfit. After doing so, he met with Team Arrow to attack Walker, his men, and the Markovians. They were able to stop the sale and have the criminals arrested. The next day, they celebrated at a bar. After drinking with Drake, he called her his new "favorite American". He approached Oliver about another favor and his loyalty to the Bratva, reminding him that his oath was for life.
Roughly two months later, Anatoly was called to Star City by Oliver. They met in the Arrowcave, where Oliver told him that he needed the Bratva to kill Adrian Chase/Prometheus. Oliver admitted that the hood couldn't contain his monster. Anatoly was pleased that Oliver finally saw himself clearly and had remembered his Bratva oath. He insisted on a two-part payment to complete the deal, two sets of pharmaceutical drugs from factories throughout the city, and Oliver agreed. While stealing diabetes drugs, Knyazev and his men were interrupted by Diggle, Dinah, Curtis Holt, and Rene Ramirez. Anatoly told John that they were there with Oliver's blessing. While meeting with Oliver, Anatoly explained that he was combining two drugs to create an opioid that was more addictive than heroin, thus finally cementing his role as Pakhan. Diggle arrived and caught the end of that conversation, causing him to be more committed than ever in getting the Bratva out. After his men were stopped from killing Chase by Oliver's team, Anatoly yelled at Oliver for letting his friends get in the way again, and Oliver announced that their deal was off and his men needed to stand down. Anatoly was satisfied, as he needn't kill anybody and he could still take the rest of the drugs. He warned Oliver that if Oliver interfered, their prior relationship wouldn't keep him from being declared a Bratva enemy.Anatoly and the Bratva headed to the next location, this time taking hostages during the heist. As he was confronted by Green Arrow and his team, he ordered his men to kill the hostages, forcing Oliver to choose between the people and pills. Oliver sent his team in to free the civilians while he fought Anatoly's men. In the end, Anatoly gave him an ultimatum: if he wanted to kill his old life, he'd have to kill Anatoly. Oliver instead activated an alarm so they all had to run before the police arrived, giving his old friend a chance to escape. Anatoly decided to head back to Russia but leaving behind his men, who were furious at Oliver's betrayal. Oliver refused to apologize for keeping Anatoly from menacing innocent people for money, telling him that he was no better than Gregor. Anatoly admitted that he had to become what he'd became. Without Oliver's presence, Anatoly slipped into corruption and self-interest.
Due to his friendship with Oliver, Anatoly was seen as "weak" to the rest of the Bratva and thus exiled from Russia until he prove the contrary. So he and a group of his men came back to Star City and kidnapped a group of Markovian delegates, demanding ransom. After Oliver and his team freed three of his hostages, Anatoly escapes with one, injecting him with a deadly toxin and demanding a ransom for the second time in order to spare the man's life. After Team Arrow detects the toxin and Oliver injects the hostage with the antidote, Anatoly kills the man due to not having received his money, then he was confronted by his former friend over his change of attitude. Anatoly still insists that he is an honorable and good man, claiming that the fact that he did not kidnap, torture or try to kill William, Oliver's son, and revealing that he did not reveal Oliver's identity, as proof and escapes.
Soon after Anatoly allied with Cayden James, Laurel Lance/Black Siren, Vincent Sobel/Vigilante and Ricardo Diaz/Dragon, watching alongside them as Team Arrow implode from the hidden camera that Laurel had planted in the Arrowcave during her initial attack.
Due to his time on Lian Yu, Anatoly developed a warrior's perspective, believing that living isn't for the weak, and was willing to hand Hendrick over to Slade for Oliver, as he knew Slade would kill Oliver but was less sure what he would do to Hendrick. His time under Ivo's torture and the island he also seemed to have developed a sadistic sense of humor, as he was perfectly willing to make Ivo suffer once he became his prisoner.
Despite his status as a mafia leader, Anatoly is a man of honor, as he awarded Oliver Queen the rank of Captain in the Bratva, and therefore granting him access to its resources, for saving his life, even though it was extremely rare for an American to hold such a rank in the organization. Even Oliver stated that his relationship with the Bratva and Anatoly is an extremely valuable one. Anatoly holds Oliver in high regard, to the point he doesn't hesitate to help Oliver in anyway he can, and also takes an immediate liking to anyone Oliver vouches for. Anatoly is also shown to be a very considerate individual, as he was the first person who asked where Oliver was after escaping the Amazo. Anatoly also likes people with an unbreakable determination as he stated he took a liking to Diggle when he refused to deter from his mission to save Lyla from the Gulag, despite hearing how dangerous of a mission it is. His loyalty to his friends is without question, and oddly enough for a mafia leader, Anatoly is exceptionally friendly and seemed to be a man of good morals as shown by his reaction to Oliver's growing violent tendencies and when he tried to convince Oliver to let the bratva bring Konstantin Kovar to justice instead of killing him.
Anatoly is shown to be a very talkative person as Alexi learned from him Oliver went to Russia to break into a Gulag.
However, over time, Anatoly began to change in Oliver's absence, becoming corrupt ruthless and self-serving under the justification that he became what he needed to be. These traits caused his friendship with Oliver to end and turned them against each other. However, Anatoly does still hold onto his friendship with Oliver as he was visibly affected when Oliver lectured him on how he has fallen and he did warn Oliver that his best men were staying behind in Star City to get revenge on Oliver's team. If he had truly wanted Oliver dead, he would have let them take Oliver by surprise because Oliver knew they were arrested, but not out on bail. He also did not expose his secret to the public and did not attempt to hurt or use William as hostage against Oliver.
- Keen intellect/Master tactician/Expert leader: As the leader of the Solntsevskaya Bratva, Anatoly is a capable tactician and leader. Anatoly can also be very deceptive, effectively helping Oliver with his cover story about the five years he spent away from Starling City.
- Indomitable will/High pain tolerance: Anatoly has an extremely high tolerance for pain, presumably due to his time in the KGB. He is shown to be quite resistant to tortures and has proven to know how to dislocate his own thumbs to free himself from restraints.
- Peak of human physical condition: Anatoly is in top physical condition for a man of his age; he has fast reflexes, a remarkable durability and is strong enough to break the neck of a much larger foe with ease.
- Honed senses: Anatoly has sharp hearing and sight, as well as keen skills of perception.
- Expert interrogator/torturer: During his time with the KGB, Anatoly became an effective interrogator and torturer. He is capable of inflict much physical pain into a target without killing them and is even capable of using mind games to worsen the discomfort.
- Expert survivalist: Anatoly has great survival skills, as he was able to survive in the wild on Lian Yu. His skills and willpower allowed him to survive near-death experiences. He is also an master escape artist, able to free himself from various confinements.
- Explosives expert: Due to the fact that he once worked for the KGB, Anatoly is an expert in explosives. He knows how Russian and Japanese bombs work, Anatoly was also able to disarm a Japanese land mine on Lian Yu, something that Slade Wilson and John Diggle are unable to do. He tried to teach some of his skills to Oliver Queen, during his stay in Russia.
- Expert hand-to-hand combatant/Martial artist: Although he prefers to use weapons, Anatoly is an incredible close-range combatant/martial artist, able to compete against dangerous combatants and easily disarm or kill armed men with his bare hands.
- Expert marksman/Firearms: As a former member of the Russian navy and KGB, Anatoly is skilled in the use of firearms.
- Multilingualism: As a native Russian, Anatoly speaks that language fluently, in addition to English.
- Network: As the leader of Solntsevskaya Bratva and a former agent of KGB, Anatoly has established many connections who provides him aid for various natures.
- Pistol: Anatoly is very proficient in using guns. He kept one holstered under his jacket to use it in case of emergencies.
- Dual handguns: Anatoly used two pistols as weapons to kill Gregor's men. He is shown as a skilled gunman, shooting two pistols with ease.
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
- "Fail-Safe" (1986)
Behind the scenes
- In the DC comics, Anatoly Knyazev is a villain known as "KGBeast". He is primarily a member of Batman's rogue gallery. However, he appeared as an ally at first.
- Not considering their time on Lian Yu, Anatoly Knyazev was Oliver Queen's sixth mentor, after Tatsu Yamashiro.