Sat 15 Feb, 2003 09:49 pm
In recent years, articles have surfaced regarding the involvement of the RUSSIA MAFIA in the U.S. How effective is organized crime in Europe and Russia? Have any of you had any first hand experiences?
Organized Crime Outlook in the New Russia
Russia is Paying the Price of a Market Economy in Blood
By: Richard Lindberg and Vesna Markovic
ECPR SG Organised Crime
Organized Crime in Europe: Manifestations and Policies in the European Union and Beyond
Mapleleaf, I didn't yet read the links you provided, but wanted to add a short response on what we learned during my short visit to Russia several years ago. I'm sure it hasn't changed much during the past couple of years. We had a professional journalist on our boat that provided us with four lectures during our 15 days cruise. She essentially told us that the corrupt government and mafia are both hurting the Russian economy. The journalist told us that capitalism didn't have a chance at survial from the very beginning, because Yeltsen tried to convert from a socialist economy to capitalism too quickly. Under socialism, it was not necessary to produce quality products, because the government subsidized everything, and the majority of people depended on their government to provide for all of their necessities. It's practically impossible to change from a socialist environment to a capitalistic one over night. Yeltsen didn't cosider the necessity to provide for a period of conversion for retraining and private ownership of production. It's sort of similar to what Mogabe is trying to do in Zimbabwe by taking away farms from the white owners and giving them to blacks who have no experience or idea on how to run these farms. c.i.
Thanks for your invite.
I'm not sure if this will be of interest, but here are a few links that may be a slightly different perspective on organized crime in Europe.
The first three links are in relation to the efforts in the UK and Ireland to stop the flow of cash to organized crime gangs. The first two concern the agencies tasked with recovering the money. The third is an old link in relation to the setting up of a Northern Ireland branch of the UK Assets Recovery Agency (and the need for it).
Assets Recovery Agency
Criminal Assets Bureau
Paramilitaries reap £18m from rackets
An example of the spread of European gangs into the UK. This is an issue that is attracting an increasing amount of interest.
UK warning over Balkan gangs
Mapleleaf,I received your invite but cannot in ANY way participate in this thread,I´m sorry.Organized Crime is something I´ve only ever seen in the movies.
your links are informative. I wonder if any of the Russian folks will log in on topic.
Mapleleaf, thanks for the invite !! I cant seem to add much to this topic, except for the observation that when I was visiting Russia and Ukraine, almost everywhere we went (specially upmarket night clubs and bars) - there was a unspoken presence of gangsters around us, or so my friends tell me.....
Mapleleaf, sorry! No experience at all!
... and I thought, you were ...
MapleLeaf, I am honoured by your invitation, but one of the rules laid down by my Probation Officer is that I cannot talk in any way about crime or criminals.
Tommy, Give me your Probation Officer's name, address, and telephone number. I have Sicilian relatives who will make an offer he can't refuse.
...there was a unspoken presence of gangsters around us...
I wonder, how did Gautam manage to reveal gangsters among bar public without having performed a criminal investigation...
Gautam, You wanna buy a nice bridge here in California? Got a real good deal on the Golden Gate Bridge.
steissed, frankly speaking, I am totally blind to these things around me - Al Capone can come and sit next to me and I would'nt even notice. But I was always with my russian friends (who primarily are in the banking industry) and these guys have a sixth sense for these kind of people !!!
CI, that is "a bridge too far" !!
Got something close to me ??
Sixth sense, Gautam? Well, some maybe people have such a thing, but after having lived for 27+ years in the USSR I still cannot distinguish a gangster in a crowd of loyal citizens, unless he is in flagrante...
Gangsters are freemasons? It sounds funny: most of them have never heard such a word, and those that heard may think that it pertains to the non-convicted construction laborers.
Bookmarking this thread, as I've got to have a look at those links first.
I've not had personal contact with the Mafia (to my knowledge!) but my work leads me to assist in prevention of fraud and money-laundering, which are (unfortunately) common in Eastern Europe/former Soviet Union.
I'll try to give a better reply later. KP
Moneylaundering is really widely spread in Russia, but in most cases it pertains to tax evasion, and not to legalization of the drugs or extortion money. I admit that tax evasion is a criminal offense as well, but it is a feature of business in the countries with low level of business culture.
Hello guys, I'm back and can present my own view on the mafia in Russia (without any pretensions on being expert of course).
About the lowest level. Here the system isn't very sophisticated. Every street salesman, every shop's owner or small company's chief has to pay his "taxes" to the local criminal authority (the exact word in Russian is "avtoritet" which means a criminal leader). The gang that takes the "taxes" is called "roof" - "krysha" - because they also provide some elementary defence also. Every "roof" in turn has it's own "roof" that receives the most part of their subordinates' income. The main and strongest "roof" in every town is the local department of the MVD (Inferior Ministry, Militia (police in Russia)) or sometimes FSB which is perfectly known for every schoolboy. Since every ring of the chain is controlled it's almost impossible for a businessman to avoid his paying. A salesman who tries hidding his income from a couple of boxes of sold Snickers would be checked as easy as a MVD colonel who didn't pay his general neccessary money (the salesman may have some problems with his health, while the colonel can be loudly claimed as a shameful corruptioner and prosecuted then). What person collects all these payments at the end - I don't know, it's still a great mystery for me. May be the chief of the FSB or the President himself, or may be some their higher masters? BTW the fact that you are paying to your gangsters doesn't mean that now you don't have to pay directly to militiamen, in turn if you have paid all illegal "taxes" to the officials it doesn't mean that now you shouldn't pay all legal state's taxes to the same officials. And all these "taxes" don't mean that you can't be robbed or your shop burnt by drunk youths once. Noone, including the militia, will be worried about your problems.
Besides collecting payments the gangsters' job (I mean the lowest of them) is looking after the non-violance of the specific criminal laws - "ponyatiya (conceptions)" in Russian, I will use the Russian word then because it doesn't have a good translation. For me - a little weak usual citizen - these laws are very useful thing because they give some minimal guarantees to my property. According to ponyatiya impudent theft is forbidden like in a usual penal code. But in a higher scale these ponyatiya prevent any development of the small business. The modern western system of crediting can't work together with criminal ponyatia. As I know from American movies every American salesman always hopes to increase his business, to create some more offices, to get more investments and so on. In Russia if a salesman sells snickers he will be selling these snickers a year, 2 years, 3 ... 10 years later - he has no perspective. So why he damages his nerves? Because there he has a little more income than a usual engineer at a factory. He can afford himself an old car and a good coat, sometimes even a two room apartment which is already a fantastic dream for a guy working at a factory like me for example.
Now about a personal experience - once I was involved to a business together with one my friend. In two words we signed a contract with one guy - nicknamed Kisel' (jelly) for 5,000 $ (very big money in Russia, it happened just before 1998 when the living level in Russia was a little higher than usually). Our mistake was that we paid all these money immediately. Soon we got known that Kisel' had been drinking too much since the signing of our deal. We understood that he was spending our money and seemly was going to disappear from the town before the end of our contract (and not our only). Of course we tried to cancel the contract but it became impossible - after several negotiations Kisel' refused to return any money. My friend had some links in the militia, so he tried to address to the court (our contract had been juridically confirmed by the officals so we would have had no problems to win the case) but it was useless - the court didn't have enough power to find this guy (he left his apartment, his firm was closed). One militiaman told us that he had escaped from our town. I asked my company's (I mean my main working place) security to link me up with the local gangsters. Soon we had a meeting - there were three guys, one of them was Caucasians, all had good sportsman's appearance but I wouldn't say they were rather different from non-criminals. Initially they were going to get all money from Kisel' - our 5,000$ + extra 5,000$ for their job. But after some meetings with the Kisel's roof (BTW they found him very quickly) they canceled their promises. The Kisel's roof was very strong, with links even in Moscow - else he would have been afraid of doing such tricks of course. The only way was to appeal to the higher authority who had to resolve the problem using the ponyatiya. But now we were strongly dissapointed - Kisel's roof insisted that I and my friend were responsible for this, because according to the ponyatiya someone who pays money is responsible for them. If you paid and was robbed then you shouldn't have given your money, so you are a fool ("lokh" of "fraer" in Russian) who exists for being robbed in the logic of criminals. The arguments ended with an agreement - Kisel' gave back our money, but we had to pay to our roof 2,500 $ - 50%. Then we had the last meeting - our three gangsters, me and my friend arrived to a "strelka" (clock's finger, also meeting in the slang) with Kisel' and three his gangsters. Kisel' gave me 5,000$, I gave him the papers with his signature and then we returned to the cars. In the car I transferred to the gangsters their share. The most interesting was the end of this story - when the "authority" got known about the result of our strelka he became very angry that some outsider criminals cover our local swindlers. He called it "bespredel" (no limits or the violance of laws in the slang). In two words they brought me back another 1,000$ which really surprised me.
I am going to put on some words about the higher level criminal structures next time. I'm sorry for the mistakes - I'm really in hurry now.