The Russian Mafia
Protectionism in the New Capitalist Russia The Russian Mafia has always exercised an important role in the Russian economy. The contemporary Mafiosi are descendents of the seventeenth Century highwaymen and Cossack robbers. These men occasionally murdered families prior to raids preventing them from being captured. The Russia Mafiosi made a point to remain aloof from the state. Mob men were actually spurned when returning home from fighting in the Great Patriotic War. The gangs begin to dominate markets such as car sales, spare parts, cigarettes, food distribution, and other markets that the Communist Party failed to provide under the Bolsheviks (Remnick196). Since the collapse of Communism and the dawn of Capitalism, the Russian people have been troubled with innumerable obstacles. There are more than 3,000 gangs known generally as the Russian Mafia. They have proven to be a significant force in delaying the reform process (Goldman 58). The new Russian Mafia has involved themselves in every imaginable kind of criminal activity from drug trafficking and money laundering to protectionism, which penetrates into every area of society. Under the laws of the Soviet Union, the regulations were strong and external. Now the external regulators have disappeared allowing the Russian Mafia to exceedingly enlarge its strength and influence especially with the accelerated speed of privatization without legal safeguards. The Russian Mafia's effect on the Russian economy through protectionism can be viewed through the different scopes of academia, the United States Press, and the Russian Press. Protectionism is a preferred activity of the Russian Mafia. When a new private business opens, the mafia ensures that it will get a share of the profits. The mob offers the new operation protection. If the business refuses to purchase protection, the mafia uses violence against them or their property (Gustatson 105). Most entrepreneurs purchase the protection. Then the new company pays unofficial taxes to crime groups. This guarantees that nearly all new businesses will have an affiliation with the mafia. Gustatson estimates that payments can are approximately twenty percent of the profit (105). This is a major form of taxation on top of what the government already commands leading many companies to tax evasion or concealing their exact value. These acts forfeit what little protection the authorities might be able to render. The mafia demands a cut of the earnings but in turn furnish more than adequate security. The mafiosi provides protection from unaffiliated criminals and rival gangs. They ensure that property is not damaged or stolen. If entrepreneurs are visited by another organization, they must only summon their own mafia group. The two gangs will settle the matter themselves (Gustatson 105). This security is an asset that the State seemingly fails to provide. The Russian Mafia has more men and weapons than the Russian law enforcement. The police force is an intently corrupt place as is much of the Russian government. Both army officers and law enforcers are frantic for cash and willing to sell weapons such as guns, grenades, and rocket launchers (Remnick 109). The Russian Mafia is able to easily locate weaponry to carry out its duties as protectorate; while, the authorities lack money and personnel. A few days before the union dissolved the biggest Russian Mafia leaders held a summit meeting at a dacha just outside Moscow with the three main Italian crime organizations from Sicily, Naples, and Calabria. They understood that it would bring turmoil and uncertainty; yet, the Vori v Zakonye or thieves in the law saw possibility in the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The organizational leaders assembled to discuss the selling of nuclear materials, and drug-money laundering (108). The mafiosi would use their influence to access bureaucratic power. They began anticipating the collapse by becoming private businessmen:...
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