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Henry M. Robert

Peculiarities of the national La Piovra

Why is post-Maidan Ukraine ranked 113th out of 137 countries in an organized crime prevalence ranking?
28 November, 2017 - 11:57
Sketch by Viktor BOGORAD

In the 1990s, gangsters exerted great influence on this country’s life, including its economy, politics, and society... Some of them even joined the ruling elite and became part of it. But has this phenomenon disappeared in post-Maidan Ukraine?

Take a look at the latest news. On November 26, law-enforcement officers detained more than 60 so-called “criminal bosses” in a restaurant in Pushcha-Vodytsia, Kyiv oblast, the National Police reports. It notes that according to operative information, detainees were trying to influence the criminal situation in Kyiv and other regions. “We checked them all, 65 people were taken to the district police station, and several firearms were seized. Although all of them have valid permits, we seized them for inspection and relevant examinations. Many of these people have a criminal past, so they were all checked for involvement in criminal offenses and being on the wanted list... Given that such meetings have repeatedly escalated into fights or shootouts, we have done a preventive screening,” said the head of the National Police’s Kyiv City Office Andrii Kryshchenko. Also, the police noted in its report that no detainee was presently on the wanted list or involved in active criminal cases, so everyone was released after screening and ID check.

The problem is clearly still there, it is its shape and methods that have changed. Furthermore, Ukraine is ranked 113th out of 137 countries with the highest prevalence of organized crime. The ranking in question was compiled by experts of the World Economic Forum (WEF) (reports.weforum.org/global-competitiveness-index-2017-2018/competitiveness-rankings/#series=EOSQ035). In the group of countries with high prevalence of organized crime, Ukraine is located next to African and Latin American states (Uganda, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Haiti). The ranking has Salvador, Honduras, and Venezuela at the lower end. The WEF estimates that organized crime has least influence in Finland, Norway, and Oman. It is noted that experts made the ranking based on data for 2015-16.



“I co-authored the bill on ‘thieves-in-law,’ which clearly defined who a ‘thief-in-law’ was and established that mere belonging to that category was already socially dangerous. Unfortunately, it did not get the votes needed for its passage. It is now very difficult to prove that one or another person is a criminal boss. As a rule, the ‘thieves-in-law’ are never direct perpetrators, but only give orders to commit a crime. Meanwhile, those who are given such orders do not name their superiors and do not testify against them.

“They invented an important rule in Georgia, stating that if someone identified himself a ‘thief-in-law,’ he was automatically sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Meanwhile, not identifying oneself as a ‘thief-in-law’ carried similarly grave consequences for them, only this time from their criminal colleagues. But all these ‘thieves’ have moved to the Russian Federation. “Nowadays, the police are taking preventive measures to detect these ‘thieves’ here. The police follow them, their actions are monitored.

“Russia, in turn, actively uses gangsters against Ukraine. A typical and representative example is the murder of the former member of the State Duma Denis Voronenkov. This murder was organized through the criminal boss Vladimir Tyurin. This assassination attempt was purported to be the revenge of Maria Maksakova’s first husband. In fact, it was the action of Russian special services, only masked as regular revenge. Also, Russia is actively using criminals, both for gathering information and for sabotaging and destabilizing Ukraine. “With regard to some rankings in which Ukraine occupies certain places, I would not pay special attention to them, as we can also create a ranking of our own.”

By Ivan KAPSAMUN, Valentyn TORBA, The Day