The Problem of Organized Crime in Russia

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  • Topic: Organized crime, Crime, Gang
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Internationalization of organized economic crime
The Russian Federation case

Timur Sinuraja ~

As reforms in the Russian Federation forge ahead, the p r o b l e m of organized crime is b e c o m i n g more and more significant. Despite n u m e r o u s publications on organized crime accurate information a b o u t its related activities is quite sketchy, and even less is known about the international activities of Russian organized crime groups and those with Russian connections. Although inevitably not exhaustive due to the lack of hard information, this article draws on existing knowledge, using an interdisciplinary a p p r o a c h i.e. sets of different ideas and concepts, to establish a theoretical framework so that we m a y better u n d e r s t a n d the dynamics of the rapid d e v e l o p m e n t of organized criminal activities associated with the Russian Federation, primarily in the economic sector, during the recent transition period. The first part of this article is based mainly on information acquired from Russian experts and sources, with the aim of identifying the unique features of crime in its most organized and dangerous forms in Russia today. In the second part the author attempts to develop the idea that internationalization of organized crime follows a pattern of internationalization or globalization of the e c o n o m y in general. This model is applied to the Russo-West economic relation. The aim is to show that the forms of organized e c o n o m i c crime, including that involving international criminal associations, which are developing in Russia today, easily traverse the borders to Western Europe. The article advocates an interdisciplinary analytical a p p r o a c h for finding the key unit of analysis to the p r o b l e m of organized economic crime c o n n e c t e d with the Russian Federation.

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Research and Documentation Centre, P.O. Box 20301, 2500 EH The Hague, The Netherlands.

internationalization of organized economic crime

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O r g a n i z e d e c o n o m i c c r i m e in R u s s i a

The definition
Most definitions of international organized crime relate in some way to familiar examples such as the Italian mafia or Columbian drug cartels and the same is true in Russia where this type of crime is often referred to as the 'Russian mafia', 'Red mafia' or 'Russian organized crime'. Although the latter is more precise than the other two, in fact, none of the three terms reflect the real situation. First, it is not Russian because besides Russians there are different ethnic groups of the former USSR involved: Slavic, Caucasians, Central Asians and so on. Russian-speaking is a better term, but it would not reflect the whole scope of the problem as this article also considers the international aspect of the problem. The term 'connected to the Russian Federation', seems more appropriate, because we can be more flexible in defining the problem which can include foreign criminal groups or individuals. Second, it is not 'mafia' as this term comes from Italy and implies almost exclusively Italian specifics. It is much less 'red' as this term implies ideological preferences which are definitely not relevant here. Furthermore, the article concentrates on neither the drug- or weapon-trafficking nor prostitution or smuggling of radio-active materials, but on the activities of organized crime against and through the legitimate branches of the e c o n o m y during the transition period in the Russian Federation. Therefore the whole scope of the problem under discussion here can be defined as organized economic crime connected with the Russian Federation. The following detailed theoretical layout of the problem could be suggested. Russian experts point out that the main field of activity of organized crime in the Russian Federation is the e c o n o m y (Dolgova and D'yakow, 1993, p. 270). In the words of Ageev (1995): 'In the West the money-laundering has grown on the...
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