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Russian Mafia: Organized Crime Is Big Business for the KGB
William F. Jasper

The New American, February 19, 1996


According to Dr. Walter Zarycky, professor of political science at New York University, the Russian organized crime syndicates in America have brought a new level of sophistication, technical prowess, and ruthlessness to an already fiendishly competent and highly competitive criminal marketplace. "The Russian mafia groups have access to the best facilities and talent for making false documents, unlimited supplies of weapons, the best professional killers, the use of diplomatic and state machinery without parallel, a huge Russian domestic market, and a vast global network," says Zarycky. "They have plugged into our welfare bureaucracy and are terrorizing our ethnic communities of Russians, Ukranians, Georgians, Armenians, and Balts."

We have heard, read, and seen news reports covering this dreadful specter in terrifyingly vivid detail. What has been missing in virtually all of the coverage of this important story in the Western media, however, says Dr. Zarycky, is the most vital information of all: the use of this new global scourge as a strategic weapon by the Russian KGB. Many stories have indeed made note of the fact that "former" members of the KGB are now prominent in the new Organizatsiya, but they have given the impression that the new Russian gangsters are in competition with the "post-communist" governments. Many media accounts, in fact, play on the theme that the mean, nasty mafia thugs are running roughshod over the poor, helpless "reform" government of Boris Yeltsin and his fellow "democrats." And it is in America's national interest, we are told, to help out Boris and Company with an alliance between the FBI and the KGB. That has already been set in motion with the opening of FBI offices in Moscow and other Soviet cities.

Partners in Crime

According to Zarycky and other Russian experts, such evaluations of the Russian gangster phenomenon are deadly delusions. "The Russian mafia and the KGB are allies, not enemies, and in many cases they are one and the same," says Zarycky. "The First Directorate of the KGB couldn't afford -- both because of economics and for appearance sake -- to keep all its agents, so it reorganized and put about half [of its personnel] under the Economics Department. Now they are businessmen and bankers. The best estimates are that 80 percent of the joint ventures with Western businesses are KGB-controlled."

In his new book Le Phenix Rouge (The Red Phoenix), Hans Graf Huyn, the German expert on Soviet deception, provides some details on the extent of the recent transformation: "[T]he Russian mafia has direct control over 40,960 commercial enterprises, among them 449 banks, 37 stock exchanges, 678 markets and 566 joint ventures with Western participation. About 55% of Russian capital is in the hands of 'the mafia.' Approximately 80% of all shares eligible to vote are in the hands of organized crime. Some 693 gangs have in the meantime founded their own 'legal' institutes for laundering money. Some mafia groups operate internationally, especially in Germany, Austria, Israel and the United States. Two-thirds of Soviet state property has been bought by mafia groups or their straw men. When housing space is 'privatized,' the legal occupants are often assassinated."

But Graf Huyn is quick to point out that this new arrangement is not without precedent and direct parallel in Soviet history. Lenin's ruthless Cheka, the forerunner of the KGB, relied in large measure on recruits from the criminal underworld: murderers, robbers, rapists, thieves. "We stand for organized terror," declared Felix Dzerzinski, the first head of the Cheka. That hideous truth did not change with the succession of organizational restructurings and the succession of bloodthirsty archcriminals who followed in Lenin's wake. Soviet Russia and its minion communist states have ever exemplified the ultimate enthronement of criminality.

In the present Russian paradigm, the criminal state has merely -- as a matter of expediency and long-range strategy -- spun off certain expendable features of its raw power into deniable assets which still very effectively serve to keep its victim populace in abject bondage. The former Lithuanian vice president, Algirdas Katkus, apparently understands this fact. Katkus was quoted in Libre Journal of Paris last year as remarking that popular lore has led many in the West to believe that the Russian mafia is in mortal conflict with the KGB, when "in reality it is organized, staffed, and controlled by the KGB."

Likewise, Bernd Schmidbauer, the state secretary in charge of the German intelligence services, in a March 1994 interview in Kapital, stated: "We have realized that members of the former KGB are playing today an important role in the field of organized crime, that structures of the KGB are active in dealing with drugs, arms and white slavery [and that] they are counterfeiting money and dealing with nuclear material."

Excuse for Military Expansion

The spectral menace posed by the Organizatsiya provides the Soviet strategists a number of propitious benefits, not the least of which is a plausible pretext (to the gullible, that is) for an expansion of Soviet military power to combat these forces of mayhem and anarchy. That, in fact, is what is happening. In October 1994, the Frankfurt-based Institute for Soviet Studies released the results of its research into the strength of the Russian armed forces. According to the Institute's report, Russian forces totaled more than 4.8 million men under arms, more than twice as many as the 2.3 million cited by Russian officials and Establishment "experts" in the West. When troops of the other "former" republics of the USSR are factored in, the total strength of the Soviet forces is closer to six million. The director of the Institute, Nikolaij Nor-Mesek, told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that "a militarization and build-up is taking place under the cover of crime-fighting and catastrophe response."

Even more important, the global crime threat feeds the unremitting communist drive for world government. Former Russian Interior Minister Viktor Yerin made this conspicuously plain in the June 1995 issue of International Affairs, the official organ of the Russian Foreign Ministry: "Russia fully supports the concrete and substantive steps [by the United Nations] to promote interaction between its members in fighting crime.... Consideration of an international strategy for organized crime control is a logical continuation of the work started at the UN to fight organized transnational crime." Comrade Yerin welcomed the UN's "Global Plan of Action on Organized Transnational Crime," which he proclaimed "should form the basis of an International Strategy for Organized Crime Control whose elements could be formulated in greater detail by the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Russia is ready to take the most active part in this work." Of that you can be certain.

Concerning Yerin's proposal, Christopher Story, editor of the authoritative London-based Soviet Analyst, wrote: "Thus the 'problem' of transnational crime and global terrorism is being 'addressed' ever more intensively, as Governments respond to the perceived 'need' for international cooperation in this area and even as the 'former' Soviet Bloc states with which the West is seeking to cooperate ever more anxiously, intensify their global criminal operations. In all probability, many high-profile 'international' terrorist incidents, culminating in a 'nuclear accident,' are planned. Urged on by agents in the West and the United Nations, Western Governments are being 'softened up' for 'global solutions' to this 'international crime' epidemic." (Emphasis in original.)

Story noted that "in the tradition of classical Hegelian dialectical engineering, the 'problem' itself is being created by the evil power with which the West is most anxious to cooperate. Naturally, since it has created the problem in accordance with its Leninist tradition and remit, that power seeks to dictate the outcome -- a system of 'global justice' which must be established, not to address the overt 'global crime epidemic,' but to advance the covert aim of World (Communist) Dictatorship and its need for a supranational legal system." (Emphasis in original.)


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