Officials with the US State Department believe that the Russian mafia is the mafia of all mafias. World-known mafia brands such as Cosa Nostra and Yakuza pale in comparison with the great and terrible Russian gangsters. What does that mean?
In July, Barack Obama signed a decree to introduce tough sanctions against transnational criminal groups. If US authorities suspect you of having any relation to these dark forces, they may deny you entry to the United States, block your bank accounts, and so on and so forth.
The US Department for Treasury included Russian citizens on the Brothers' Circle black lists. Officials with the ministry said that the circle operates in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and, of course, poses a strategic danger to the interests of the United States. Thus, it just so happens that Russian gangsters rule the world.
It appears that Russia is supposed to be eternally grateful to US experts for their struggle against our mafia. However, it also appears that it is very easy to get into this mafia and very hard to get out of it. It is not the gangsters, but American officials that make you stay in the mafia.
One of the prominent members of the Russian mafia (as US officials say), Anzori Aksentyev-Kikalishvili said: "In 1994, I wrote an open letter to then-President Clinton, in which I urged him to stop the escalation of the new ideological weapon called the "Russian mafia." That letter made me a mafia mob once and for all. Now I am a dreadful mob, even more dreadful than Soviet singer Joseph Kobzon (the Americans labeled the singer a mafia mob too -ed.). He even wondered once what was so special about me that made me more dreadful for the Americans than him."
For fairness sake, we have to admit that the Americans are not alone with their opinion about it. Britain's the Daily News wrote a year ago that the Russian mafia controlled 70 percent of the Russian economy, as well as the prostitution business in Macao, China and Germany. According to British reporters, the Russian mafia controls drug trafficking in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the money-laundering business in Cyprus, Israel, Belgium and England. The list continues with car theft and nuclear materials smuggle.
This is very impressive indeed! How large a criminal group must be to control prostitution in China alone?
Russian criminals are highly sophisticated and uncatchable for the West. As soon as the Soviet Union collapsed, Russian criminals started to look for new homes far away from the motherland. Vyacheslav Ivankov, for example, bought a ticket to the United States as soon as he came out of prison in Russia. That was a perfect opportunity for him to change his image. In Russia, he was known as a jailbird. In the States, he earned the reputation of Robin Hood; US newspapers referred to him as the new Solzhenitsyn. Afterwards, Mr. Ivankov showed the States how to love freedom.
The deeds of Mr. Ivankov in particular and the Russian mafia in general are dramatized and demonized in the West. The Russian mafia definitely exists, but it does not stand out from others of the ilk, such as Cosa Nostra, Yakuza, Ndrangheta, etc. The myth that has been created is much more profitable. Special departments were created and colossal funds were allocated to struggle against the Russian mafia. Reporters would make attention-catching headlines, and politicians would earn their scores.
The Russian mafia has thus become a brand. We have to acknowledge that Russian godfathers would often add more fuel to the fire as they decide to share their stories with the world every now and then. It is impossible to imagine a member of Cosa Nostra or Yakuza arranging a news conference. Russian mafia mobs do not hesitate to give interviews.
As a result, in 1993, the FBI headquarters in Washington established a special department for the struggle against Russian organized crime. A similar department was subsequently established in New York. It is about time the Americans should thank the Russian gangsters for creating jobs.
A typical news story about the Russian mafia is as follows: "A criminal group fraudulently appropriated $3.4 million having staged a car accident." How can the Russian mafia be the richest and the most powerful if it is the drugs that bring the largest income in the criminal world? The Russians do not produce drugs - they can only transit them. Agents can never leave suppliers behind. For example, the incomes of Colombian drug lords let them maintain a whole army, with helicopters, that can resist the attacks from US regular forces. Russian gangsters are nowhere near.