Crime And Crimea: Criminals As Allies And Agents

From: Radio Free Liberty


By Mark Galeotti

Mikhail Volkov is a cop in Moscow (up to a point) and Viktor Skvortsov is a criminal (of sorts), but even back in May they were both using the same words to describe Crimea: a business opportunity.

Viktor no longer really runs with the Muscovite underworld, but he still trades on his old associations with the now-global Solntsevo network from the freebooter 1990s, which are good enough to get him invited to the occasional mobster-“biznisman” birthday party or funeral. From time to time, his old contacts either need a favor or ask one of him, and his ill-defined “import-export business” appears to find itself the conduit for dubious commodities that may or may not be what is on the customs manifest.


Crime And Conquest

One of the dangerously unremarked aspects of this creeping criminalization was its Russian connection, something also symbolized by Viktor’s ferry ride. 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. According to Alfrid, likewise the peninsula’s dirty money was typically laundered through Russian banks and in the process became all but untraceable for the Ukrainian police.

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