Russian Mafia

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The Russian Mob or Mafia, Russkaya Mafiya, also known as Red Mafia, Krasnaya Mafiya or Bratva (Brat means brother in Russian), is a name given to a broad group of organized criminals of various ethnicity which appeared from the Soviet Union after its disintegration in 1991. Apart from ethnic Russians, the term comprises disproportionately large numbers of Jews and Chechens, as well as the Georgian, the Ukrainian, the Armenian, and the Azeri mob, as well as so called "mafia" groups from other former USSR republics. Within this article, the terms "mafia" and "mafya" will both be used. They may also be referred to as Bratva which means "brotherhood" or "brothers."


[edit] Background

Amid the political uncertainty that has engulfed the former Soviet Union since the end of the Cold War in 1991, rampant, unchecked organized crime has laid waste to noteworthy democratic reforms and contributed to an economic and moral meltdown within the 15 newly independent republics. Intelligence reports emanating out of Russia peg the numerical size of the Russian Mafia (“mafiya”) at 100,000 members owing allegiance to 8,000 stratified crime groups who control 70-80% of all private business and 40% of the nation’s wealth.

Many of the bosses and main members of the Russian mafia are believed to be ex-Soviet Army and ex-KGB officers who lost their posts in the reduction of forces that began in 1993 after the end of the Cold War. It is also believed that many of the groups' enforcers are ex-Russian Spetsnaz special forces, an organisation renowned for its brutality. Russian mobsters also recruit sportsmen: boxers, martial artists, weightlifters [as funding for sports had decreased sharply] and other Olympic athletes. In some cases, the Russian mafia has recruited Olympic sharpshooters to carry out hits.

The Russian Mafia appears to be organized in similar ways to the Italian mafia. It is believed, however, to be a very loose organization with internal feuds and murders being commonplace. A particularly brutal practice rumored to be utilized by the Russian Mafia is the killing of not only the individual who has "snitched" or turned against the Organizatsiya, but also the individual's family. The Russian mafia is notorious for underground operations and clean transactions, and, unlike the Italian mafia, it is known for its secrecy and unflamboyant manner.

[edit] History

Despite seeming to arise during the Fall of the Soviet Union, organized crime had existed throughout the imperial and communist eras as a form of open rebellion against the systems in the form of the "Thief's World". During this time organized crime was fiercely honor-based and often attacked and killed traitors among their ranks. Nevertheless, during World War II, many enlisted in the Russian Army resulting in the Suka Wars, which killed many of the thieves who were branded as government allies as well as the original thief underworld during Stalin's reign. The criminals, seeking a new survival strategy, began to ally with the elite in the Soviet Union as a means of survival, creating a powerful Russian black market.

The real breakthrough for criminal organizations occurred during the economic disaster of the 1990s that followed the fall of the Soviet Union. Desperate for money, many former government workers turned to crime and the Mafia became a natural extension of this trend. According to official estimates, some 100,000 Russians are hard-core mobsters, with a large but unknown number engaging in these criminal practices on and off.

Between 1992 and 1994 the Russian Mafia targeted the commercial centers of power, seizing control of the nation’s fragile banking system. At first the criminal gangs were content to merely “park” their large cash holdings in legitimate institutions, but soon they realized that the next step was the easiest of all: direct ownership of the bank itself.

Banking executives, reform-minded business leaders, even investigative journalists, were systematically assassinated or kidnapped. In 1993 alone, members of the eight criminal gangs that control the Moscow underworld murdered 10 local bankers. Calling themselves “Thieves in Law” (vori v zakone), Russian gangsters have murdered ninety-five bankers in the last five years.

Since the mid-90s the Russians have been trying to expand into America, most often via the trafficking of drugs and illegal weapons. This has led to some brutal wars with the organizations already present, including the Italian Mafia and the Yakuza. The group is believed to have links to Colombian drug smugglers and many smaller gangs as a result of the fall of the Soviet Union. Some also believe they are at the heart of gangs smuggling illegal workers west to the European Union and often Britain, though no proof has been offered for this at this time. The home of the Russian Mafia in America is in the Brighton Beach (dubbed by Russians "Little Odessa") neighborhood in New York.

Over the last few years, the FBI and Russian security services have tried to crack down on the Mafia, though the impact of this has yet to be measured.

[edit] Composition

The majority of organized crime groups and their members within Russia are ethnically Russian. Furthermore, the majority of violent organized crime groups and their members are also ethnically Russian within Russia’s borders.

However, the Russian mafia is not limited to ethnic Russians, but to many nationalities from the former Soviet Union, most of which are now collectively known as the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Chechens make up a disproportionate amount of Russian mafia members inside Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, and only play a small role in the Russian Mafia's overseas membership. Russian Jews are also present in the Mafia structure, though it is difficult to determine the number in the Russian mafia. The Russian Mafia also has a multitude of other nationalities such as Ukranians, Belarusians, Armenians (tied to the Armenian Power gang), Moldovans, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Georgians, Dagestanis, Azeris, and others. Additionally, countries such as Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Moldova have their own mafia organizations which have extensive links to the Russian mafia.

[edit] Organizations

  • Dolgoprudnenskaya is a Russian mafia organization and is considered one of the largest groups of organized crime operating in Moscow. It is named after Dolgoprudniy, which is a subsection of Moscow. It was founded in 1988 and is allegedly very influential.<ref>Oleg Liakhovich, A Mob by Any Other Name, The Moscow News</ref>
  • Izmailovskaya (Russian: Измайловско-гольяновская) is considered one of the country's most important and oldest Russian Mafia groups in Moscow and also has a presence in Tel Aviv, Paris, Toronto, Miami and New York City.<ref>B. Ohr, Effective Methods to Combat Transnational Organized Crime in Criminal Justice Processes US Dept. of Justice</ref> It was founded during the 1980s under the leadership of Oleg Ivanov and was recently estimated to consist of about 200 active members (according to other data of 300-500 people). In principle, the organization is divided into two separate bodies - Izmailovskaya and Gol'yanovskaya,<ref>Домашняя библиотека компромата Сергея Горшкова</ref> which utilize quasi-military ranks and strict internal discipline. It is involved extensively in murder-for-hire, extortions, and infiltration of legitimate businesses.<ref>US, COMM, PERM, p. 201</ref>

[edit] Threats to International Business

Foreign companies pay up to 20% of their profits to the Mafia as the on-going price of doing business in Russia. Ignoring shakedown threats merely invites tragedy. Most American and other western firms find it necessary to hire private security guards to protect their executives from extortion threats and roving assassins.

Ineffective law enforcement has spurred the rapid growth and expansion of the private security industry. In the past seven years, 25,000 Russian security firms were established, employing between 600,000 and 800,000 workers. The Mafia controls at least one-sixth of them.

"Mafia Is Immortal". A Title Of One Of Perestroika-Period Soviet Movies

[edit] Mafia Personalities

[edit] Foreign businessmen and the Russian Mafia

An unknown number of foreign businessmen, believed to be in the low thousands, arrived in Russia from all over the world during the early and mid 1990s to seek their fortune and to cash in on the transition from a communist to a free market/capitalist society. This period was referred to by many of the businessmen as the "second great gold rush".

Generally, 1990 to 1998 was a wild and unstable time for most foreign businessmen operating in Russia. Dangerous battles with the Russian Mob occurred, with many being killed or wounded. The Mafia welcomed the foreign businessmen and their expertise in facilitating business and making things happen in a stagnant and new economy. The Mafia considered them as a good source of hard currency, to be extorted under the usual guise of "protection money". Many different Mafia groups would fiercely compete to be able to "protect" a certain businessman; in exchange, the businessman would not have to worry about having more than one group showing up demanding tribute from him. Many foreign businessmen left Russia after these incidents, and after almost a decade since the wild 1990's, the Mafia still holds its grip on the majority of legitimate and illegal business occurring in Russia.

[edit] Foreign businessmen associated with the Russian mafia

  • Paul Tatum: American joint owner of Radisson-Slavanskaya Hotel in Moscow; shot 11 times in the head and neck (his attacker knew he was wearing a bulletproof vest) and killed in a sensational shooting in a Moscow Metro station in November 1996 for refusing to pay "krysha" and be squeezed out by a silent partner. Tatum was surrounded by his own bodyguards when attacked; however, they made no attempt to save him and allowed his attacker to escape unharmed. Tatum had, only weeks before this, taken out a full-ad page in a local newspaper denouncing his Chechen partner Umar Dzhabrailov for trying to squeeze him out of their hotel joint venture. Tatum, a multi-millionaire, had connections to the then U.S. President Bill Clinton and many high ranking Moscow politicians. His murder has not been solved.
  • Ken Rowe: Canadian businessman and joint owner of Moscow Aerostar Hotel; threatened by the Russian mafia in an attempt to force him out of a joint hotel-airline venture. Mafia at one point entered the hotel with armed men and forced all employees out. Rowe later fought back and seized an Aeroflot aircraft in Montreal to recover his award in a Russian court.

[edit] The Russian Mafia in popular culture

[edit] Films

[edit] Videogames

  • The Russian Mafia is one of the main factions in the Lucasarts game Mercenaries.
  • Max Payne 2, one of main characters, Vladimir Lem, is from Russian Mafia.
  • The Russian Mafia appears in GTA2 as a gang that the main character, Claude, can work with to get jobs from.
  • The Russian Mafia are prominently featured in a mission of Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas, where they occupy the Atrium building in Los Santos.

[edit] Comics/Anime

[edit] Books

  • In Artemis Fowl the Arctic Incident the Russian Mafia have a large role.

[edit] See also

[edit] References and further reading

<references />

  1. James O. Finckenauer & Elin J. Waring, Russian Mafia in America: Immigration, Culture and Crime, Northeastern University Press Boston, 1998, ISBN 1-55553-374-4.
  2. Mark Galeotti (ed.), Russian and Post-Soviet Organized Crime, Ashgate/Dartmouth, 2002, ISBN 0-7546-2176-6
  3. Federico Varese, The Russian Mafia, Oxford University Press, 2001.
  4. Robert I. Friedman, Red mafya, Penguin Group, 2002, ISBN 0-425-18687-3.
  5. Yvonne Bornstein and Mark Ribowsky, "Eleven Days of Hell: My True Story Of Kidnapping, Terror, Torture And Historic FBI & KGB Rescue" AuthorHouse, 2004. ISBN 1-4184-9302-3.
  6. Teresa Staffer, "Russian mafia leaves Bay Area Jews alone, officials say," The Jewish News Weekly, March 22, 1996.

[edit] External links

fr:Mafia russe it:Organizatsya ka:რუსული მაფია nl:Russische maffia ja:ロシアン・マフィア pt:Máfia Russa fi:Venäjän mafia ta:சிகப்பு மாஃப்பியா

Russian Mafia

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