Yale University Press | 01May2018 | Mark Galeotti
Russia's Super Mafia
[... 236-page pdf file ...]
List of illustrations
A note on transliteration
1 Kain’s land
2 Eating Khitrovka soup
3 The birth of the vory
4 Thieves and bitches
5 Thief life
6 The unholy trinities
7 Gorbachev’s gangsters
8 The ‘Wild Nineties’ and the rise of the
9 Gangs, networks and brotherhoods
10 The Chechen: The gangster’s gangster
11 The Georgian: The expatriate vor
12 The gangster-internationalist
13 New times, new vory
15 The criminal wars
16 Bandit Russia: The theft of a nation?
of commonly used terms
Analysis by Will Zuzak
A Ctrl-F search for "Ukrain" yielded a total of 74 hits of which 21 are in the Notes, Bibliography and Index.
Of the remaining 53 hits, the largest concentrations are in Ch. 12 (14) and Ch. 15 (20).
We have excerpted several of the "hits" below to illustrate the problem that RBOC presents to Ukraine:
- "However, the war had also encouraged anti-Soviet nationalist groups,
from the Russians who joined General Vlasov’s Russian Liberation Army
and fought alongside the Germans, to Ukrainian partisans who joined the
Ukrainian Insurgent Army."
- "Often, indeed, violent interethnic
struggles would supersede others, such as in the three-cornered
struggle inmate Leonid Sitko witnessed, where a dispute between
Russian, Ukrainian and Chechen labour gangs ‘became war, all-out war’."
[pdf-59] - "Other strikes and protests would follow, especially spearheaded by Ukrainian nationalist prisoners."
- "Then there are those with a clear territorial focus (St Petersburg’s
Tambovskaya and the Far Eastern Association of Thieves, both considered
in this chapter) or very loose ones dominated by specific criminal
businesses, such as those concerned with the ‘Northern Route’ smuggling
Afghan heroin, or the interconnected ‘Ukrainians’, who are often not
Ukrainians as such, but work across the Russian-Ukrainian border and
now also seek to exploit the undeclared war in south-eastern Ukraine."
- "Rovshan Dzhaniyev, ‘Rovshan Lenkoransky’ (‘Rovshan of Lenkoran’),
hailed from southern Azerbaijan. With a criminal career spanning prison
terms in both Azerbaijan and Ukraine, he built himself a power base in
Abkhazia, a region of Georgia now under Russian control, from which he
appears to have had aspirations to form a ‘highlander’ network of his
own. He certainly did not lack for confidence and ambition, and his
criminal organisation developed connections in Azerbaijan, Ukraine and
"Some Ukrainian and even Belarusian gangs and criminals operate
autonomously in Russia, for example, along with groups from the
- "Ukraine is a good example, a country in which all the
main Russian combines have interests, operations, partners and people,
and where even the culture of the vory is still present."
- "Taras Kuzio has suggested that Ukraine prior to the 2013–14 ‘Maidan Revolution’ became a ‘neo-Soviet mafia state."
- "When Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, though, it
did so – as will be discussed later – with the active support of local vory,
and it then used and empowered others in the south-eastern Donbas
region to fight and therefore excuse its subsequent proxy war with
- "Ukraine and Russia may be at virtual war, but their
criminals continue to cooperate as before. One officer from the SBU,
Ukraine’s security service, ruefully told me that ‘the flow of drugs
through Donbas, into Ukraine, and then into Europe simply has not
shrunk by a single percentage point, even while bullets are flying back
and forth across the front line’."
- "They withdrew from much street-level activity (though some Ukrainian
gangs still victimise the Ukrainian community in Moravia)."
- "When Russia invaded Ukraine, it did so not only with its infamous
‘little green men’ - special forces without any insignia - but also
with criminals. To the gangsters, this was not about geopolitics, less
yet about redressing what Putin called the ‘outrageous historical
injustice’ that occurred when the Crimean peninsula was transferred
from Russia to Ukraine in 1954, it was about business opportunities."
"(It is hardly coincidental that the two parts of Ukraine in which
Russia is, as of writing, entrenched are both areas where the old-style
vory are equally thick on the ground.)"
"As independent Ukraine struggled in the early 1990s both with economic
crisis and the near-collapse of its law enforcement structures,
organised crime assumed an increasingly visible and violent form."
- "Although Crimea was part of Ukraine, many of the most lucrative
criminal businesses, such as trafficking narcotics and counterfeit or
untaxed cigarettes, depended on relationships with the Russian criminal
networks." ... "When the Ukrainian state began to totter as President
Yanukovych struggled with the Maidan protesters, Moscow was able to
begin to reach out to potential allies in Crimea through underworld
- "While some were veterans and volunteers, many were the
footsoldiers of the peninsula’s crime gangs, who had temporarily put
their rivalries aside to pull Crimea out of Ukraine. The new elite is
thus a triumvirate of Moscow appointees, local politicians and
gangsters made good."
[pdf-171] - "Sadly, the same is true when applied to munitions promised to militia groups in the Donbas region of south-eastern Ukraine."
"Ukraine would, the Russians reasoned, have to acknowledge Moscow’s
regional hegemony, something they assumed would be quick and
"Although post-Soviet Ukraine had had at best partial success in
building a working law-based state (if anything, by 2014 corruption was
an even greater problem there than in Russia), the east had been
especially problematic, in the grip of a seemingly unbreakable cabal of
business oligarchs and corrupt political managers."
excerpts indicate that ever since Ukraine declared independence in
1991, Russian-based Organized Crime (RBOC) has hindered the development
of Ukraine both economically and socially. (And this was deliberately
promoted by the oligarchs and the Kremlin.) It was especially
problematic during the Yanukovych era and remains a serious problem
To be continued as time and energy permit.