Comrade Criminal


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Russia`s New Mafiya

Stephen Handelman; Updated with a new preface

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This riveting book is the first comprehensive investigation into the organized crime and corruption that plague Russia today. Describing a society under the sway of gangster bosses, corrupt army generals, bank swindlers, drug dealers, and uranium thieves, the book shows how "mafiya" crime lords and still-powerful former Soviet bureaucrats—so-called "comrade criminals"—have sabotaged their country's attempt at revolution and reform.

Stephen Handelman, Moscow bureau chief for The Toronto Star from 1987 to 1992, has based his book on interviews with more than 150 Russians—mobsters, police, political crusaders, former KGB agents, new millionaires, and ordinary citizens. Handelman traces the roots of the criminal underworld to elements of society that have existed on the margins of Russian life for centuries and that during the last twenty years of Soviet power became an essential arm of the black-market economy. He reveals how organized crime has flourished since the demise of totalitarianism, and how the Russian mafiya has begun to export to American cities not only guns and drugs but also its particular brand of mob violence. And he shows the detrimental effects crime has had—and will continue to have—on political and economic reform in the new states of the former Soviet Union.

Stephen Handelman is a veteran foreign correspondent who writes regularly on international affairs for The Toronto Star. His articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Times of London, Foreign Affairs, The Spectator, and other newspapers and journals. He has testified before the U.S. Senate Helsinki Subcommittee and lectured on Russian crime to the FBI, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University, and is currently an associate fellow at Columbia University's Harriman Institute.

"Handelman takes us into places that few know of, and where even fewer have ventured. . . . [He] has done a masterly and very courageous job of reporting, and he reveals a side of the new Russia that we overlook at our peril."—Serge Schmemann, New York Times Book Review

"A responsible, well-informed, well-written book, more terrifying on account of it."—John Le Carré

"One of the most profound analyses of the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union. It provides a fascinating insight into how the new millionaires have gained access to their assets and how the criminal mafia has joined up with the nomenclature mafia to create a truly 'new class.'"—Marshall Goldman, Harvard Russian Research Center

"[A] timely book describing the crime scene in post communist Russia."—Jack F. Matlock, New York Review of Books

"Gripping and lively, this is an account of Mafia machinations and the generally fruitless efforts of honest cops and outnumbered democratic politicians to thwart them. . . . One of the most comprehensive and convincing representations of what has happened in Russia since 1991."—Chrystia Freeland, Financial Times

"Handelman has done an astonishing job of reporting. Comrade Criminal is an essential book. . . . It provides the background to the most diverse and troublesome headlines of our times."—Lars-Erik Nelson, New York Newsday

"Remarkable."—David Remnick, New Yorker

"In Stephen Handelman's fascinating and depressingly well-detailed study Comrade Criminal, we get a daunting chronicle of the dirty work that's afoot in Russia, a country plummeting from perestroika . . . to bespredel . . ."—Eric Gerber, Houston Chronicle

"Comrade Criminal is full of such fascinating anecdotes. . . .This is an important book for anyone thinking of traveling to or trying to do business in the former Soviet Union. It also offers plenty of food for thought for those interested in how the United States ought to deal with another kind of Evil Empire."—Mary Perot Nichols, Philadelphia Inquirer

"Comrade Criminal . . . is likely to remain the definitive work on the Russian mafia for some time to come."—Michael Dobbs, Washington Post

"Handelman tells this appalling story with great sensitivity and insight."—The Virginia Quarterly Review

"Anyone interested in the subject is bound to come away with a fuller appreciation of the gravity of the problem, supported by a mass of fact and opinion."—Donald D. Barry, Review of Central and East European Law

Selected as a Notable Book of the Year (1995) by the New York Times
ISBN: 9780300063868
Publication Date: February 27, 1997
408 pages, 6 x 9

Sales Restrictions: For sale in U.S and its territories, Canada, and the United Kingdom only