Gangster Geopolitics: The Kremlin’s Use of Criminals as Assets Abroad

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

(Russia Matters – – Mark Galeotti – January 17, 2018 – Mark Galeotti is a senior associate fellow of RUSI and a senior non-resident fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, as well as a 2018-19 Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute. His most recent book is “The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia” (Yale, 2018) [Amazon: […]

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NEWSLINK: “How Putin’s Russia Became Mafia Heaven; Inside the long, strange story of organized crime taking over the former Soviet Union-and how Russia tamed it only to unleash it on the West. [re: Mark Galeotti]” – ViceCom/Seth Ferranti

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“…  Putin is engaged in this kind of political war with the West—he’s effectively trying to weaponize Russian organized crime against the west. We have seen Russian-based organized crime groups being used to kill enemies of his, to gather intelligence, to move spies across boarders, and raise money for Putin by supporting particular groups or media outlets that he likes […]

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NEWSLINK: “England fans at World Cup ‘at risk of blackmail from Russian mafia hookers’; There are fears gangsters could threaten to send incriminating pictures to fans’ wives or post them on social media” – The Daily Mirror (UK)/Tom Davidson

File Image of Soccer Ball, Field, Stadium with Lights, adapted from image at

“… ‘It’s not just the Russian government we have to be fearful of when it comes to England fans.  It is also the Russian mafia who we know exploit sex, and use the internet and dating, to offer women in order to blackmail customers.’ …”  

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NEWSWATCH: “Zapret a manger: Russia’s elites face growing sanctions pressure” – Bear Market Brief/Max Hess

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

“[With the Treasury Department’s April 6, 2018, sanctions announcement,] [s]even Russians explicitly labeled oligarchs … their main Russian businesses, and 17 government officials were added to the list of Specifically Designated Nationals (SDN) … [who] have their U.S. assets frozen, while U.S. persons are barred from doing business with them. … a tactical escalation of the U.S. sanctions …. expanded […]

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“Gangster’s paradise: how organised crime took over Russia; Under Vladimir Putin, gangsterism on the streets has given way to kleptocracy in the state” – The Guardian (UK)/Mark Galeotti

“… The challenge posed by Russian organised crime is a formidable one – and not just at home. Across the world, it trafficks drugs and people, arms insurgents and gangsters, and peddles every type of criminal service, from money laundering to computer hacking. For all that, much of the rest of the world remains willing – indeed, often delighted – […]

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