The Russian Mafia: Private Protection in a New Market Economy

Challenging widely held views, this book presents a thorough account of the Russian Mafia. It charts the emergence of the group in the context of the transition to the market, the privatization of protection, and pervasive corruption. It includes reports of undercover police operations, in-depth interviews conducted over several years with the victims of the Mafia, criminals and officials, and documents from the Gulag archives. It also provides a comparative study, making references to other Mafia, such as the Japanese Yakuza, the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, and the American-Italian Mafia.

Book reviews

Enlightening, perceptive and superbly researched. Essential reading for anybody seriously interested in the mind and heart of contemporary Russian criminal society.’
John le Carré

`In his scholarly study, Varese systematically surveys the source of the problem, inventories the origins and resources of those groups providing protection, and then describes the way the relationship works. At the core of his book is an elaborate case study of the city of Perm, where he spent months working with police records, conducting interviews, and collecting newspaper stories.’
Foreign Affairs

`A work of incontestable quality … The appearance of this work must definitely be welcome, because it marks the emergence of scientific rigor in the treatment of the Russian Mafia and calls for a multidisciplinary examination of post-Soviet society.’
Revue d’Etudes Comparatives Est-Ouest (Paris)

`Federico Varese’s study of the Russian mafia is aimed primarily at students of crime rather than exclusively at Russia-watchers … With considerable intrepidity, Varese has conducted numerous interviews (and contextualised them with scrupulous documentary research) with people who haveavailed themselves of the mafia’s services. The resulting picture of economic and social life in Perm is instructive and sobering.’
The Political Quarterly

`Headlines on Russian organized crime appear regularly in the Western Press and carry alarming messages. Now we finally have a sober, scholarly account.’
Times Literary Supplement

`An enlightening book, the first scientific book on the topic. Varese uses a wide range of methods – sociological inquiry, economic analysis, historical-comparative methods, and literary-linguistic analysis. The book is enriched by a vivid description of the criminal world, its codes of behavior, hierarchies, and language (the author devotes an appendix to the criminals’ nomes de guerre). The author also details better known Mafia domains. The amount of information and data is extraordinary.’
Sole 24 Ore(Milan)

`The first comprehensive study of the Russian Mafia is by a young Italian scholar, Federico Varese. His book is an extraordinary account.’
Il Manifesto(Rome)

Varese deserves the highest praise for a stunning book that is of the very best academic quality in terms of scholarly rigour in its treatment of Soviet and post-Russia culture. This is a thoughtful, multidisciplinary examination of a complex phenomenom. The book is rich with data and each page bursts with insight from the experiences of all those connected to mafia activity. The Russian Mafia is that rare thing in acadmia-an un-put-downable book that prompts you to seek out more knowledge on who’s who in Russian Business and Russian organised crime. I enjoyed reading it immensely and have learned much from it. The British Journal of Criminology

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