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9,962. The Hermitage in St Petersburg vies with The Louvre in Paris as the world’s greatest museum. In August 2006 its director made an announcement: more than 200 items worth about $5 million were missing from its vaults. It was a huge scandal. (Art & Museum & Gangstas & Theft) Art of the Heist s2e4: The Russian Conspiracy
9,963. The Winter Palace became a museum – the Hermitage. It contains the collections seized from the Tsars and the Russian aristocracy. (Art & Museum & Gangstas & Theft) ibid.
9,964. Only 5% of the museum’s contents is ever on show at one time. (Art & Museum & Gangstas & Theft) ibid.
9,965. 226 items were missing from the store-room of Russian precious metals and jewellery, and the curator of the department [Larisa Zavadskaya] had died at her desk nine months before. (Art & Museum & Gangstas & Theft) ibid.
9,966. The Hermitage director was convinced his enemies were plotting his downfall. (Art & Museum & Gangstas & Theft) ibid.
9,967. They discovered still more objects missing. (Art & Museum & Gangstas & Theft) ibid.
63,695. One of the most dangerous men on the face of the Earth. 2010: Viktor Bout en route to United States. (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) Storyville: The Notorious Mr Bout ***** BBC 2014
63,696. ‘This is my first visit to America. On the drive to jail I saw the Brooklyn Bridge. I recognised it from the movies.’ (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid.
63,697. 1) Evil all-powerful supervillain, merchant of death that got his comeuppance; 2) Stooge and victim of a conspiracy. (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid.
63,698. Questions of how the arms industry works. (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid.
63,699. The move from communism to capitalism ... 04.22.2012: ‘If you had brain, it wasn’t hard to make money in Moscow doing business. But all business in Moscow was crooked business. You had to have protection and then protection for your protection.’ (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid. Viktor
63,700. Bulgaria 1996: ‘The Bulgarians were desperate to sell arms.’ (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid.
63,701. Afghanistan 1996: ‘Things took a wrong turn.’ (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid.
63,702. ‘After the boys came home, my company stronger than ever. By twenty-five I was a millionaire ... I had an empire.’ (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid.
63,703. DEA Special Agents ... New York 2011 ... ‘Dealer of death on trial.’ (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid.
63,704. D R Congo 2000: Arms Dealer Viktor Bout Wanted in Africa ... ‘I had a lot of government contracts in Africa.’ (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid.
63,705. ‘I wanted to travel. To see world. To make documentary film.’ (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid. Viktor
63,706. ‘Viktor Bout is indeed the chief sanctions buster at this present time. A real merchant of death.’ (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid. Peter Hain
63,707. Douglas Farah & Stephen Braun: Merchant of Death ... The man who makes war possible. (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid. book and TV interview
63,708. ‘The world’s largest illegal arms dealer. (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid. Russian radio
63,709. ‘I am innocent. I didn’t commit any crime.’ (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid. Bout to judge
63,710. The global arms industry remains one of the least regulated. Every year enough bullets are made to kill every person on the planet twice. (Arms & Gangstas & Conspiracy) ibid.
95,397. Far from being the harbingers of anarchy, these groups of men – Afghan veterans, street toughs, martial-arts experts, former KGB officers, and every one of them terrifying – were the indispensable midwives of capitalism. (Russia & Gangstas & Capitalism) Misha Glenny, McMafia
95,398. Businesses willingly handed over 10-30 per cent of their turnover to local thugs, who would ensure in exchange that they could continue trading, free from the violence of gruppirovki working on behalf of their competitors. ‘We are prepared to work with the racket because it charges ten per cent,’ a businessman from Omsk noted at the time. ‘The state takes ninety per cent in taxes and even more in fines.’ (Capitalism & Business & Russia & Gangstas) ibid.
95,399. It took just months for Russia to descend into a surreal anarchic capitalism, the Wild East. (Capitalism & Russia & Gangstas) ibid.
95,400. Russia’s economy became a giant Petri-dish of Chicago-school market economics, but among the cultures they were busy cultivating was a Frankenstein that slipped out through the door of their laboratory almost unnoticed ... The coupling of a privatised foreign-trade mechanism with the retention of rock-bottom subsidized commodity prices gave birth within months to the entirely new species of robber baron – the Russian oligarch. (Russia & Economics & Capitalism & Gangstas & Privatisation) ibid.
95,401. The process of enrichment was quite simply the grandest larceny in history and stands no historical comparison ... the biggest single flight of capital the world has ever seen. (Russia & Gangstas & Economics & Capitalism & Commerce & Privatisation) ibid.
95,404. This simple triangular conspiracy between oligarchs, bureaucrats and organised crime was happily concealed from most by the intense drama being acted out upon the streets of Moscow and other major cities: unbridled sexual activity, outrageous displays of wealth, and impenetrable political intrigues. Above all, it was hidden by the outbreak of violent mob wars. (Russia & Gangstas & Capitalism & Moscow & Conspiracy) ibid.
95,405. The millionaires and billionaires could not make and then hold on to their money without the protection of the rackets, and the gangsters flourished thanks to the oligarchs’ demand for security. (Russia & Gangstas & Capitalism & Protection) ibid.
95,406. Despite the murders and the shoot-outs, the Russian mob actually ensured a degree of stability during the economic transition. (Russia & Economics & Capitalism & Gangstas) ibid.
95,407. One of the most violent and fear groups to emerge in Moscow and elsewhere was the Chechen mafia ... ‘The Chechen mafia became a brand name, a franchise, a McMafia, if you like,’ explained Mark Galeotti. (Russia & Moscow & Gangstas) ibid.
95,408. By 1999 there were more than 1,500 registered ‘private security firms’, employing more than 800,000 people. Of these, almost 200,000 had licences to carry guns. The Russian Interior Ministry has estimated that there were at least half as many again that remained unregistered. (Russia & Security & Arms & Guns & Gangstas) ibid.
95,409. Paradoxically, if you were not involved in business or the protection industry, you were much safer on the streets of Moscow than in most other major cities. (Gangstas & Moscow & Russia) ibid.
95,410. There were about twenty major gangs in Moscow and dozens of minor gangs, some of them Slav and others Caucasian. (Russia & Moscow & Gangstas) ibid.
95,411. As the oligarchs started to funnel huge amounts of cash into their pockets and organisations, there was a sudden rise in the demand not just for Western cars, but for luxury cars. (Russia & Gangstas & Cars) ibid.
95,412. The Slav-Caucasian War that engulfed Moscow for about two years from 1992 ... lay the predictable motive of economic interest. (Moscow & Gangstas) ibid.
95,413. The Solntsevo empire grew. From car showrooms and bars, it expanded into hotels and supermarkets. It also controlled three major markets in the centre of Moscow, and at least three major railway stations. (Moscow & Gangstas) ibid.
95,414. The move into banking brought Solntsevo and the top criminal syndicates still closer to the oligarchs. (Moscow & Gangstas & Banksters) ibid.
95,415. One of the many ways they liked to flaunt their wealth was by throwing extravagant parties. A prominent oil executive threw a Soviet Union Nostalgia Party in a chateau outside Paris in the summer of 2004 ... French peasants dressed as Soviet collective-farmworkers from the 1930s were driving their factors around the fountain in front of the mansion ... Inside, skipping between the fountains of champagne and lines of coke (carefully chopped and ready for use), women with miniskirts split to reveal their buttocks would writhe occasionally to the marching beat ... The Soviet Union Nostalgia Party was a mere side-order in the movable orgiastic feast that was in constant preparation for the oligarchs and their entourages. (Party & Gangstas) ibid.