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What isn't classified about Mikhail's history is only rooted with misery, misfortune, and death. With both his parents killed in a terrorist attack at age six, Mikhail became reclusive and violent. He had deep resentment for his foster father, and at the age of 14 he ran away from home to live on the streets. He did so for four years until his varied criminal past caught up with him and he was arrested at 18. He was then turned over to the army for conscription, where, unlike most, he did very well and the violence suited him well. He was soon transferred to a Russian special counter-insurgency unit with the goal of uprooting insurgents and terrorists in Chechnya. During a mission, his entire team was captured and killed one by one in front of Loskov, he himself was tortured for three days before his rescue at the hands of the Spetsnaz.
The Following Contains Spoilers for Splinter Cell: Conviction
After this ordeal, Mikhail was approached by a SVR officer named Viktor Kovalev to discuss a new special operations group. One much like Third Echelon, and dedicated to high-risk infiltration and information gathering. He quickly took the position, and adopted the call-sign "Kestrel."
Prior to the events of Splinter Cell: Conviction, Kestrel is teamed up with a Third Echelon agent named Archer. While uneasy about this the two are tasked with locating and securing some Soviet-era EMP devices. Their mission eventually leads to success thanks to Andriy Kobin, and the two extract via plane. While relaxing after a mission well accomplished, Archer receives a kill order on Kestrel but he intercepts it when he checks Archer's OPSAT. The two square off in the plane itself, and no matter who kills who, they show remorse for what they have done until shortly after when Kobin comes and eliminates the other agent.