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Yale University Press | 01May2018 | Mark Galeotti

The Vory

Russia's Super Mafia

[... 236-page pdf file ...]
CONTENTS    [pdf-5]
List of illustrations
A note on transliteration

Part One Foundations
1 Kain’s land    [pdf-30]
2 Eating Khitrovka soup    [pdf-37]
3 The birth of the vory    [pdf-45]
4 Thieves and bitches    [pdf-53]
5 Thief life    [pdf-61]
Part Two Emergence
6 The unholy trinities    [pdf-72]
7 Gorbachev’s gangsters    [pdf-82]
8 The ‘Wild Nineties’ and the rise of the avtoritety    [pdf-89]
Part Three Varieties
9 Gangs, networks and brotherhoods    [pdf-98]
10 The Chechen: The gangster’s gangster    [pdf-113]
11 The Georgian: The expatriate vor    [pdf-123]
12 The gangster-internationalist    [pdf-132]
Part Four Future
13 New times, new vory    [pdf-147]
14 Mafiya evolutions    [pdf-157]
15 The criminal wars    [pdf-167]
16 Bandit Russia: The theft of a nation? [pdf-176]

Glossary 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:

[pdf-57] - "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."

[pdf-99] - "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."

[pdf-130] - "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 Moscow."

[pdf-134] - "Some Ukrainian and even Belarusian gangs and criminals operate autonomously in Russia, for example, along with groups from the Caucasus."
- "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."

[pdf-135] - "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 Kiev."
- "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’."

[pdf-140] - "They withdrew from much street-level activity (though some Ukrainian gangs still victimise the Ukrainian community in Moravia)."

[pdf-169] - "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."

[pdf-170] - "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 channels."
- "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 inevitable."

[pdf-172] = "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."

The above 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 today.

To be continued as time and energy permit.