Mar 15, 2007
RFE/RL: Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said recently that 1/10 of Russia's territory "is under the control of organized crime groups, who often face little or no official resistance." He added that the Russian mafia is "alarmingly well established in Moscow, St Petersburg, the south of the country, and in Siberia." He stressed that "this problem poses a threat to the state, society, and the economy," adding that more than 3.8 million crimes were registered in 2006, up by 8.5 percent over 2005. Criminals are caught in only 46 percent of the reported cases, he said. The daily quoted "Aleksei Mukhin, a specialist in organized crime, [as saying] that Russia is home to up to 10,000 criminal groups employing 300,000 people. Most are paid to protect the businesses and assets of a small number of powerful mafia leaders," whose businesses often operate under the cover of legal enterprises.