The Russian Mafia – Part Three

In Part Two we tried to describe how, following the fall of the Soviet Union, criminals, security services, politicians and anyone in the right place at the right time became involved in illegitimate activities.  In particular we featured the story of Alexander Litvinenko, the ex-KGB/FSB officer who fled to Britain under the protection of emigre oligarchs but was still tracked down and killed by operatives with links to the security services.

The Izmaylovskaya Gang

In this post we’ll have a look at some of the oldest and largest groups in Moscow (and Russia) and we’ll start with the Izmaylovskaya gang.  Old in Russia is a relative term – under the strictures of communism it was not easy to run a criminal organisation and the Izmaylovskaya gang did not appear until the mid/late 1980s, in the last few years of the Soviet regime.

Believed to have been started by a known criminal, Oleg Ivanov, it’s named after the area in Moscow where the gang is based.  Reliable estimates put it’s membership at between 200-500 individuals in Moscow alone which makes it a pretty big organisation.  It runs the usual type of protection rackets and, as this is Russia, is suspected of having links to the authorities.

The Ivanov family own, along with the gang, the Titan Weapons Industry, a successful arms manufacturing company and are also understood to have links in many Western cities including Toronto, Miami, Paris and New York.

The Tambov Gang

The Tambov’s hail from the area known as Tambov Oblast (oblast means area).  The man most identified with the Tambovs throughout their history, beginning in 1988, is Vladimir Kumarin.  This gentlemen’s fortunes have risen and fallen with the gang and at one point he was Deputy President of the Petersburg Fuel Company.  He has also lost an arm after a failed execution attempt.

The Presidency of the fuel company becomes less surprising when you learn that the Tambovs are understood to control more than 100 St. Petersburg enterprises and four North Western seaports, many of which have been taken by force.

Since 2008 there has been an enormous investigation in various European countries, including Germany, Spain and Bulgaria, against the Tambovs and dozens of arrests have been made.

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