David Reynolds TV - Misha Glenny - Ross Kemp on Gangs TV - Operation Odessa 2018 -
His [Stalin’s] speciality was bank robberies ... Here was a gangsta. A street thug. David Reynolds, World War Two: 1941 and the Man of Steel, BBC 2012
In two years Moscow had been transformed into a breathtaking Babylon of guns, enterprise, money, violence and fun. Misha Glenny, McMafia
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. ibid.
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.’ ibid.
It took just months for Russia to descend into a surreal anarchic capitalism, the Wild East. ibid.
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. ibid.
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. ibid.
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. ibid.
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. ibid.
Despite the murders and the shoot-outs, the Russian mob actually ensured a degree of stability during the economic transition. ibid.
One of the most violent and feared 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. ibid.
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. ibid.
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. ibid.
There were about twenty major gangs in Moscow and dozens of minor gangs, some of them Slav and others Caucasian. ibid.
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. ibid.
The Slav-Caucasian War that engulfed Moscow for about two years from 1992 ... lay the predictable motive of economic interest. ibid.
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. ibid.
The move into banking brought Solntsevo and the top criminal syndicates still closer to the oligarchs. ibid.
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 tractors 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. ibid.
Those organised-crime bosses who survived the 1990s settled well into Putin’s Russia. Several have Interpol red notices on them, wanted for crimes committed in Western Europe or the United States, but the government in Moscow shows no inclination to extradite them. ibid.
Other mobsters now make their living brokering major gas and oil deals between Russia, its neighbours and Western Europe, recording handsome profits for their clients and themselves. ibid.
Almost all major oligarchs and business empires started to employ former KGB men to advise them on security. ibid.
The death of Alexander Litvinenko, the former senior KGB officer poisoned in his London exile in late 2006, revealed how confused the relationship between the KGB and private security services had become. ibid.
The oligarchs were in a position to exercise influence over the residual forces of law and order in what is known as the ‘deep state’, the mighty forces of political influence that operate behind the scenes even in ostensible chaos. ibid.
In the 1990s, the oligarchs and gangsters quite clearly controlled the Kremlin. Under Vladimir Putin, who systematically used popular hostility to the oligarchs to strengthen his political position as President, the situation was reversed. It does not follow that Putin and friends persecuted criminals or dispensed with corrupt practices. On the contrary, they flourished as before but they were now much more carefully controlled. ibid.
Most dramatic were the meetings between the Orejuela brothers’ representatives and members of Moscow’s Solntsevo Brotherhood on the thoroughly sinful Caribbean island of Aruba in the early 1990s. ibid.
A disturbing gang that not only advocates street violence but also have worrying political ambitions … They have direct contact to the skinheads. Ross Kemp on Gangs s2e3: Moscow, Sky 2006
They actually have their supporters in the Russian parliament. ibid.
In 1997 a federal task force uncovered a plot to sell a Soviet submarine to a Colombian drug cartel for $35 million. The Feds believed the mastermind was a Russian gangster known as Tarzan. They were wrong. Operation Odessa, 2018
In 1991 Tarzan used his earnings from New York to open a strip club in Miami. He named it after his favourite movie: Porky’s. ibid.
The wiretaps revealed Tarzan’s connection to Cuban drug trafficker Nelson ‘Tony’ Yester. ibid.
Special agent Alex Yasevich was sent in to bring down Tarzan. ibid.
Tony flew to France and picked up two duffel bags filled with cartel cash. Instead of going to Russia to buy a submarine, he stole the money and went on the run. ibid.
Tarzan is barred from re-entering the United States. He lives in Moscow. ibid.