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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Russia a virtual “Mafia State” ... Russia putting crimelords to work on behalf of its interests

The above title is clipped from one of the WikiLeak.org, US Government (USG) cables now online. This document was classified Secret, was dated February 8, 2010, and originated from the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain. The main source of the information is a Spanish prosecutor. The name of a company where the Russian Mafia has a "sizeable investment" has been redacted. Also, paragraph #6 seems to have disappeared? The main idea of the report is that Belarus, Chechnya and Russia are virtual “mafia states,”  and that the Russian security services and the Russian Mafia have become intertwined. It is very interesting reading. Some snips follow, note: OC = Organized Crime.

The Guardian in the United Kingdom also highlighted this document, title: Russia is virtual 'mafia state', says Spanish investigator

WikiLeaks.org:
Reference ID: 10MADRID154
Created: 2010-02-08 11:11
Released: 2010-12-01 21:09
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
[NOFORN — Distribution to non-US citizens is prohibited, regardless of their clearance or access permissions.]
Origin: Embassy Madrid

Spanish National Court Prosecutor Jose “Pepe” Grinda Gonzalez = Grinda

¶4. (C//NF) Grinda stated that he considers Belarus, Chechnya and Russia to be virtual “mafia states” and said that Ukraine is going to be one. For each of those countries, he alleged, one cannot differentiate between the activities of the government and OC groups.
//Identifying The Scope of The Threat the Russian Mafia Poses//

¶5. (C) Grinda suggested that there are two reasons to worry about the Russian mafia. First, it exercises “tremendous control” over certain strategic sectors of the global economy, such as aluminum. He made a passing remark that the USG has a strategic problem in that the Russian mafia is suspected of having a sizable investment in XXXXXXXXXXXX 6. (S//NF) The second reason is the unanswered question regarding the extent to which Russian PM Putin is implicated in the Russian mafia and whether he controls the mafia’s actions. Grinda cited a “thesis” by Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian intelligence official who worked on OC issues before he died in late 2006 in London from poisoning under mysterious circumstances, that the Russian intelligence and security services - Grinda cited the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), and military intelligence (GRU) - control OC in Russia. Grinda stated that he believes this thesis is accurate. (COMMENT: See Ref B on a reported meeting between Litvinenko and the Spanish security services shortly before his death.) Grinda said that he believes the FSB is “absorbing” the Russian mafia but they can also “eliminate” them in two ways: by killing OC leaders who do not do what the security services want them to do or by putting them behind bars to eliminate them as a competitor for influence. The crimelords can also be put in jail for their own protection.

¶7. (S//NF) Grinda said that according to information he has received from intelligence services, witnesses and phone taps, certain political parties in Russia operate “hand in hand” with OC. For example, he argued that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was created by the KGB and its successor, the SVR, and is home to many serious criminals. Grinda further alleged that there are proven ties between the Russian political parties, organized crime and arms trafficking. Without elaborating, he cited the strange case of the “Arctic Sea” ship in mid-2009 as “a clear example” of arms trafficking.

¶8. (S//NF) Grinda said what he has read from 10-12 years’ worth of investigations on OC has led him to believe that whereas terrorists aim to substitute the essence of the state itself, OC seeks to be a complement to state structures. He summarized his views by asserting that the GOR’s strategy is
MADRID 00000154 003.2 OF 005
to use OC groups to do whatever the GOR cannot acceptably do as a government. As an example, he cited Kalashov, whom he said worked for Russian military intelligence to sell weapons to the Kurds to destabilize Turkey. Grinda claimed that the GOR takes the relationship with OC leaders even further by granting them the privileges of politics, in order to grant them immunity from racketeering charges.

[...]

¶11. (C) Grinda also addressed the challenges of combating OC when it enjoys political, economic, social and - especially - legal protection. Grinda applauded a document provided by the U.S. delegation which addressed the important role the media can play in warning the public of OC’s activities and the threat that OC poses. The media can create an environment in which politicians would be reluctant to be friends with and do favors for mafia leaders, whom Grinda argued need to be seen as shady figures to be feared. Regarding legal protection, Grinda stated that a key factor in a government’s ability to combat OC depends on the extent to which the country’s best attorneys and law firms represent the mafia. In this regard, he asked rhetorically, “Why is Cuatrecases constantly defending Russian mafia members?” (COMMENT: Cuatrecases is one of Spain’s leading law firms. Its website, available in English, is www.cuatrecasas.com.)

[...]

¶15. (S//NF) Grinda described OC as “very powerful” in Georgia and claimed that the intertwined ties there between the government and OC began under former President Shevardnadze, when he alleges a paramilitary group served as a de facto shadow presidency. Although Grinda acknowledged improvements under current President Saakashvili, he said that there are still “limitations” in Georgia’s efforts to combat OC. Citing his personal experience in trying to secure Georgian assistance in the prosecution of Kalashov’s OC network in
MADRID 00000154 005.2 OF 005
Spain (See upcoming septel on the Kalashov trial), Grinda said that he feels “completely abandoned” and “betrayed” by Georgia and the explanations that he has received from Georgia regarding its lack of cooperation are “more pathetic than the betrayal itself.”

¶16. (S//NF) To illustrate his thoughts on the level of cooperation Spain receives from Russia, Grinda reviewed Spain’s efforts to arrest Tariel Oniani as part of Operation Avispa. (See Refs B, C and D.) In June 2005, Georgian-born Oniani fled to Russia hours before he was to be arrested in Spain and Russia gave him citizenship in April 2006, despite the fact that he had fled Spanish justice. Grinda alleged that the granting of citizenship was neither “innocent” nor “something done for free,” and was an example of Russia putting crimelords to work on behalf of its interests. Grinda alleged that the Russian Ministry of Interior and the FSB are closely protecting Oniani in Russia (even in prison). Following Oniani’s arrest in Moscow in June 2009, Spain requested his extradition for charges stemming from Operation Avispa, to which Russia replied that Oniani’s Russian citizenship prevented him from being extradited. Grinda said that Russia “always tells Spain that it will take away Oniani’s citizenship, but it never does.” Grinda said that, from his experience, “A virture of the Russian government is that it will always say and do the same thing: nothing.”

----
related:
Guardian:
WikiLeaks cables link Russian mafia boss to EU gas supplies -- Gas supplies to Ukraine and EU states are linked to the Russian mafia, according to the US ambassador in Kiev.

His cable, released by WikiLeaks, followed statements by the then prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, to the BBC that she had "documented proof that some powerful criminal structures are behind the RosUkrEnergo (RUE) company"...

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