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Organized Crime in Russia: Who's Taking Whom to the Cleaners?

NCJ Number
Conservative Review Volume: 6 Issue: 3 Dated: (May/June 1995) Pages: 23-27
J D Douglass Jr
Date Published
5 pages
Based primarily on the writings of Russian journalist Yevgenia Albats and the revelations of former Czechoslovak official General Major Jan Sejna, this article develops the thesis that the Russian KGB is at the center of Russia's organized crime activities.
Albats argues in her book, "The State Within a State," that when the power structure shifted in the transformation of the Soviet Union and the growth of capitalism and "free enterprise" became the newly reformed Russian style, the KGB was already in place and well positioned to capitalize on the emerging opportunities. Albats found that the KGB/Party oligarchy used its massive funds, much of which was gained from involvement in drug trafficking, to fund nearly 80 percent of the new banks, stock markets, and companies. Further, Russian intelligence expert Michael Waller has written that the KGB is the heart of the Russian Mafia. Organized crime now constitutes a major threat to business development in Russia and former Soviet republics. Organized gangs in Russia now control 40 percent of private businesses, 60 percent of state-owned companies, half of the commercial banks, and 50 to 80 percent of the shops, hotels, and service industries in Moscow. The CIA reports that more than half of Russia's largest banks are linked to Russian organized crime. Another significant development is the sudden presence of huge amounts of American currency in Russia. This has been coupled with the Soviet Central Bank's printing of rubles in an action that has devalued the ruble. This occurred 6 months before the flood of American dollars into the country's economy. This article hypothesizes that the American dollars were released by the KGB from its treasure chest of drug-trafficking money obtained over some 25 years of involvement in drug sales in the United States. If the KGB is the state within the state, as Albats argues, this will pose grave problems as its new international networks grow, infiltrate and infect all legitimate business and government agencies, and operate with near impunity around the world, owing to their dossiers on corruption that can guarantee favorable representation of their interests in any forum. 3 notes