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THE RUSSIAN MAFIA
Whenever we think of the organized crime, the first thought that
pops into our mind is that of the Russian mafia. Imagining a
member, the stereotypical image of a man covere...
Whenever we think of the organized crime, the first thought that pops into our mind is that of the Russian mafia. Imagining a member, the stereotypical image of a man covered in tattoos, strong build with a deadpan expression comes to the mind. And rightly so because isn't that what Hollywood has shown us. But unlike Hollywood, where the hero always wins and the mafia is defeated, the reality is a little different.
The Russian Mafia also is known as the Bratva or the Red Mafia is a collective of various criminal organizations in the former Soviet Union. It is regarded by the US and FBI as the most powerful and feared crime syndicate in the world. The mafia is known for murders, bombings, acts of terrorism etc as well as killing anyone who stands in their way or threatens their organization. It is involved in trafficking of weapons, drugs, and humans, forced prostitution, murder, contract killings, smuggling etc.
It is an approx 80 billion dollars a year vast organized crime syndicate. There are about 350,000 official members across 450 groups. Members include both white collar and blue collar criminals. The Russian mafia is more violent than the Italian and the American mafia combined. Members are known to have elaborate and hierarchical tattoos. Traditionally, the leaders were elite criminals united by a thieves code of honor. In the recent years, a college educated class of managerial criminals have taken over.
The mafia uses military tactics as well as advanced high-tech military weapons. According to the FBI, "the Russian Mafia has just as many resources, reach, and influences as the Russian Military, The Russian Mafia also has the resources and reach to have access to Nuclear Weapons,".
The mafia can be traced back to the Russian Imperial era (the 1700s) where it existed in the form of banditry and thievery. They were viewed as heroes by the people as they stole from the government and gave to the people (cough *Robin Hood* cough).
Among them was the Vorovskoy Mir or the world thieves who were a group of criminals following a code of conduct based on loyalty to each other and opposition of the government.
1917-1991: Soviet era
During the reign of Stalin, criminals were sent to Soviet labor camps. There the most powerful criminals worked their way up to become thieves-in-law. After Stalins death, around eight million criminals were released who were part of a new breed of criminals following the motto of every man for himself. They collaborated with the government if it was convenient for them.
After USSR collapsed and a free economy emerged, organized criminal groups took over the economy. Ex-KGB soldiers and war veterans offered their services to the criminal bosses. Before the dissolution of USSR, gangster submits were held to decide who would take over what.
As the 21st century dawned, the Russian mafia was still alive and new bosses have come up and the old imprisoned bosses have been released. As of 2009, the Russian mafia is spread over 50 countries and as of 2010, have up to 300,000 members.
Important mafia gangs
1. Solntsevskaya Bratva
Recently named one the wealthiest criminal organization by the Fortune magazine, it was formed in the mid-1980s in the Solntsevo district and has been established as one of the most powerful gangs. It is believed to have close ties with Russias federal intelligence agency.
2. Bratskii Krug
Also known as the family of eleven, it operates a drug smuggling empire. In 2011 it was named as one of the four targets to combat transnational crime by the US.
3. Tambovskaya Prestupnaya Grupirova
Formed in the 1980s in St. Petersburg by Vladimir Kumarin, it dominates organized crime in the St. Petersburg area. It has expanded from protection rackets operations to criminal operations like arms and drugs smuggling and cyber-crimes.
4. Chechen Mafia
Competing alongside the Russian mafia are the myriad groups who rejected the thieves-in-law code. It is one of the most powerful Mafia with connections throughout the countrys extensive Chechen Diaspora.