Wednesday, May 25, 2016
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Russian Mafia (Russian: русская мафия; russkaya mafiya) sometimes referred to as Bratva (brothers and/or brotherhood), are terms used to refer to the collective of various organized crime elements originating in theformer Soviet Union. Although not a singular criminal organization, most of the individual groups share similar goals and organizational structures that define them as part of the loose overall association.
Organized crime in Russia began in the imperial period of the Tsars, but it was not until the Soviet era that vory v zakone ("thieves-in-law") emerged as leaders of prison groups in gulags (Soviet prison labor camps), and theirhonor code became more defined. After World War II, the death of Joseph Stalin, and the fall of the Soviet Union, more gangs emerged in a flourishingblack market, exploiting the unstable governments of the former Republics, and at its highest point, even controlling as much as two-thirds of the Russian economy. Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI, during the cold war said that the Russian mafia posed the greatest threat toU.S. national security in the mid-1990s.
In modern times, there are as many as 6,000 different groups, with more than 200 of them having a global reach. Criminals of these various groups are either former prison members[clarification needed], corrupt Communist officials and business leaders, people with ethnic ties, or people from the same region with shared criminal experiences and leaders[clarification needed]. However, the existence of such groups has been debated[clarification needed]. In December 2009, Timur Lakhonin, the head of the Russian National Central Bureau of Interpol, stated "Certainly, there is crime involving our former compatriots abroad, but there is no data suggesting that an organized structure of criminal groups comprising former Russians exists abroad", while in August 2010, Alain Bauer, a French criminologist, said that it "is one of the best structured criminal organizations in Europe, with a quasi-military operation."
The Russian mafia can be traced back to Russia's imperial period, which began in the 1700s, in the form of banditry and thievery. Most of the population were peasants in poverty at the time, and criminals who stole from government entities and divided profits among the people earned Robin Hood-like status, being viewed as protectors of the poor and becoming folk heroes. In time, the Vorovskoy Mir (Thieves' World) emerged as these criminals grouped and started their own code of conduct that was based on strict loyalty with one another and opposition against the government. When theBolshevik Revolution came around in 1917, the Thieves' World was alive and active. Vladimir Lenin attempted to wipe them out after being robbed by a gang of highwaymen (who also performed an attempted rape), but failed[clarification needed], and the criminals survived into Joseph Stalin's reign.