RUSSIA, ORGANIZED CRIME, & INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM:
RUSSIAN MOBSTERS SUPPLYING WEAPONS TO TERRORISTS
By Colonel Stanislav Lunev
In present-day Russia, practically everything is for sale to anyone, for a price. According to the Moscow media, Russia's strategic nuclear weapons and weapons-grade materials, as well as other weapons of mass destruction, while protected from external threats, have become vulnerable to insider theft since the collapse of the former USSR in 1991.
Currently, Russia has 300 buildings at more than 40 facilities across the country that contain nuclear weapons-grade materials, which are poorly secured. Low-paid, corrupt officers steal and sell weapons and military equipment and materials, more or less to any bidder, including criminals and terrorists.
Last June, Russia's top uniformed military commander, First Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Kvashnin, publicly acknowledged that "ever-increasing corruption and criminalization have left our military in a post-critical state."
Russian organized crime groups are taking advantage of this situation and are extending their control over military-related facilities including those containing nuclear weapons and materials. Russia's Mafia-type criminal syndicates have sufficient funds and capabilities to operate practically without limit inside the country, whose economy and government are highly criminalized.
According to recent estimates of Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), which is in charge of fighting organized crime, about 60 percent of private business, 70 percent of state-owned enterprises, and between 50 and 85 percent of almost 1,800 banks are controlled by crime syndicates. However, in Moscow and St. Petersburg these numbers are closer to 90 percent and higher, and all told, roughly two-thirds of the Russian economy is under the sway of organized crime.
In addition, the majority of legitimately owned private enterprises and commercial banks must pay 10 percent to 30 percent of their profits to the criminal syndicates, whose bosses enjoy the protection of the corrupt ruling elite that consolidated its power during the presidency of Boris Yeltsin and are prospering under President Vladimir Putin.
Russia's close-to-200 largest Mafia-type criminal groups (out of some 6,000 groups that operate throughout the former Soviet republics) are currently global conglomerates, with working relationships with counterparts in more than 50 countries, up from 30 countries in the mid-1990s. The 26 principle syndicates have established a presence in the U.S., where they negotiated divisions of labor with American, Sicilian, Colombian and Mexican criminal organizations.
Russian crime syndicates already have been identified several times as cooperating with groups of international terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, who used his organization's connections with Russian mobsters to launder money from drug trafficking for the Taliban, receiving $133 million to $1 billion a year.
It has also been reported that bin Laden has bought several small-sized nuclear weapons from Russia's criminal syndicates, which have not been used only because they are protected by Soviet codes that require a special signal from Moscow before the weapons can be detonated.
According to the Russian media, Al-Qa'ida has already spent considerable sums on the recruitment of Russian scientists and former KGB agents capable of helping it break these codes.
Instead of becoming a stable democracy, Russia is on the way to becoming a criminal-syndicalist state with internationally connected mobsters controlling the largest economic and financial entities and dominating the political process. It is no longer merely Russia's domestic problem, and our political leaders must ask the Kremlin to handle the dangerous problem of those Russian mobsters who are supplying weapons to international terrorists.
Colonel Stanislav Lunev is the highest-ranking Russian or Soviet military intelligence officer ever to defect to the U.S.A. For the greater part of his adult life, Colonel Lunev worked for the Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravlenie (GRU), or Main Intelligence Administration--Russia's highly efficient and professional military intelligence agency. From 1988 to 1992, Lunev was a GRU intelligence officer operating out of the GRU's field office in Washington, D.C. In 1992, after Boris Yeltsin came to power in Russia, Lunev defected to the United States government. Since his defection, Lunev has pro- vided important information to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelli- gence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other U.S. defense and national security agencies--information considered so crucial that he was placed in the FBI Witness Protection Program, where he remains to this day.
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