September 30, 1997
FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE!
Do you like dark, pinstriped suits? Do you stay up late watching old gangster movies? If so, we’ve got the place for you.
Russia is rapidly turning into a giant version of Depression-era Chicago, where Al Caponesque characters speak the universal language of violence and corruption.
A new report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) says that 200 organized Russian crime groups dominate the Russian economy. The report cited corruption at every level of the Russian bureaucracy, as well as the prevalence of “professional criminals” and businessmen who evaded or ignored Russian law.
The report says that two-thirds of Russian businesses, including commercial banks, are forced to pay protection money to the gangsters. The extortion is ten to thirty percent of profits. (Not so bad really — less than U.S. corporate income tax rates!)
One rather frightening aspect of the report is the possibility that the Russian mafia is gaining control of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. There are other reports of organized crime groups in Russia attempting to sell international drug cartels weapons such as combat helicopters, submarines, and surface-to-air weapons.
First they had the Tsars — bad. Next they had Communism — very bad. Now they’ve got the Russian mafia — not much better.
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