Limited Rules of Discourse

Article excerpt

Under the auspices of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an in-depth study of Russian organized crime has been completed under the chairmanship of William Webster. It makes the case that Russia is in danger of becoming a "criminal syndicalist state" under the control of government bureaucrats, politicians and criminals. Russian organized crime is described as a direct threat to the national security interests of the United States by fostering instability in a nuclear armed major power. According to the FBI, Russian crime groups have relations with their criminal counterparts in 50 countries. Some 200 large and sophisticated Russian groups are operating worldwide. These organized crime groups have the uniquely dangerous capacity to procure and traffic in nuclear materials. The corruption pervades every level of the Russian bureaucracy and is the major impediment to combating organized crime in Russia.

The process of denuclearization and economic liberalization in Russia is being seriously undermined by these groups. They have extended their tentacles throughout Russia's economy and confer an aura of legitimacy on myriad elicit activities, including manipulation of Russia's banking system and financial markets.

In the absence of effective courts, criminal elements have infiltrated the court system. The development of a free market in Russia founded on the rule of law should be recognized as the only long-term policy solution for Russian organized crime and must be central to all U.S. policy decisions.

In order to reduce corruption within the Russian government, U.S. policy and actions should be shifted from support for political personalities to support for segments of the Russian government that are working to strengthen the rule of law. Russia must work toward the creation of a strong and impartial judiciary to implement and enforce a fair body of civil, criminal and contract law.

Since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, organized crime has taken advantage of privatization and economic reform to enjoy exponential growth and to acquire massive wealth and influence. Tremendous pressure is being placed on Russia's fledgling democracy by the volatile interplay between organized crime and an unregulated financial system. Corrupt government officials and a professional military that resents going unpaid for months at a time is not a stable base for a democratic government.

The U.S. States Task Force on Russian Organized Crime recommends these actions be taken. …