Alex Rider Wiki

The purchase of nuclear material for Iran. A terrorist atrocity in Tel Aviv. The collapse of the baking system in Singapore. Just three recent operations which should have come to us but which instead given to other organisations. We have to prove to our clients that we are back to our full strength - and this is our opportunity. The work we begin here today will have echoes that will be heard throughout the entire world

—Zeljan Kurst to the other executives of Scorpia

Zeljan Kurst is an antagonist in the novels Snakehead and Scorpia Rising.

Physical Appearance

Kurst is described as a large expressionless man, with large shoulders, and an unnaturally thick neck. He has a shaven head with mud-like brown eyes that shown little to no intelligence. He also has the small, squashed nose and thick lips of a wreslter.


Kurst is the head of the criminal organization SCORPIA (his position in SCORPIA is the same as that of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of the criminal organization SPECTRE, in the James Bond series). He owns a funeral parlor business with a secret room which is used as SCORPIA's conference room. He also gives Major Winston Yu the assignment of carrying out Operation Reef Encounter, and they regularly have meetings throughout the novel so that Yu can brief Kurst on the operation's progress.


Kurst is a ruthless, intelligent, cruel, malicious and cynical genius. He has a superb level of strategy, cunning and stealth. He is sly, callous and considerably manipulative. Kurst is a proficient judge of character, considering Winston Yu to be a genius. He, wisely, doesn't underestimate his enemies and, combined with his genius-level intellect, this makes him a cunning and formidable opponent. He is very laid-back and calm around his fellow members of SCORPIA. An emotionless misanthrope, Kurst is one of several stereotypes for an evil genius. Kurst is also extremely intelligent and has a very deductive state of mind.


During the early 1980s, Kurst was the head of police in Yugoslavia but he eventually left after his country began to break up. He had no family or friends, and nowhere to live - he desperately needed work, and he knew that SCORPIA was his best option. He worked successfully with the organization for many years, rising up through their ranks until, before long, he was their chairman. Kurst has a love of classical music, particularly Mozart, and while he was the head of police he would interrogate prisoners with a symphony playing in the background. Kurst also has a passion for extreme violence.

Kurst admires Alex Rider for the fact that he was able to foil Operation Invisible Sword in the novel Scorpia; he even tells Major Yu not to underestimate Alex just because of his age and to exercise caution during Operation Reef Encounter.

In Scorpia Rising, Kurst organizes a plot, with the help of terrorist Razim, to backmail the British government into returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece and also to kill Alex Rider. The plot ends with Razim dead and Kurst arrested by INTERPOL. It is more than likely that Kurst was executed for his crimes. These executions could have included lethal injections, hanging or being shot.


His penchant for torturing prisoners to the sound of classical music, and the fact that his victims could never listen to the piece he played them again, is a nod to A Clockwork Orange.

Scorpia Characters
Main Characters
Alex RiderAlan BluntTulip JonesJack StarbrightJulia RothmanNile
Other Key Characters
Graham AdairSmithersMark KellnerGeorge AdairTom HarrisJerry HarrisHarold Liebermann
Snakehead Characters
Main Characters
Alex RiderTulip JonesJack StarbrightEthan BrookeAshMajor Winston Yu
Other Key Characters
SmithersBen DanielsSabina PleasureBill TannerAnan SukitHermann De WynterMarc Damon
Scorpia Rising Characters
Main Characters
Alex RiderJack StarbrightAlan BluntAbdul-Aziz Al-RahimJulius Grief
Other Key Characters
SmithersTulip JonesJoe ByrneErik GunterZeljan KurstYannis Ariston Xenopolos