In the US cables sent by US’ diplomats, disclosed by Wikileaks, Russia was described as a virtual mafia state. The cables were published by New York Times, Guardian and other three newspapers. The cables painted a picture of a corrupt Russia centred on the leadership of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Bribery in the political system totals an estimated $300 billion a year, The Guardian newspaper said.
The cables quoted National Court Prosecutor Jose “Pepe” Grinda Gonzalez, a Special Prosecutor for Corruption and Organized Crime in Spain, who conducted extensive research on Russian Mafia. Grinda presented his remarks on January 13 at the new US-Spain Counter Terrorism and Organized Crime Experts Working Group meeting in Madrid. He provided a 17-page English language handout entitled, “The Organised Crime and the Russian Mafia.”
Some Excerpts of the cable are:
“…He (Grinda) is forward-leaning in his cooperation with the USG and grateful for USG assistance. His work places him under considerable stress, which make him suspicious of penetration attempts by intelligence services and causes him to have heightened sensitivities regarding his physical security.”
“He said that what we are confronting is the "Russian mafia" even if the term "Eurasian mafia" is more socially acceptable and what the Russians certainly prefer. He acknowledged that the term Russian mafia could be a misnomer since these criminal groups sometimes involve Ukrainians, Georgians, Belarusians or Chechens. He nevertheless questioned the stigma surrounding the phrase "Russian mafia" and noted it is acceptable to say ‘Sicilian mafia.’”
“Grinda stated that he considers Belarus, Chechnya and Russia as virtual "mafia states" and said that Ukraine is going to be one. For each of those countries, he alleged, one cannot differentiate between the activities of the government and OC groups.”
Grinda suggested that there are two reasons to worry about the Russian mafia. First, it exercises "tremendous control" over certain strategic sectors of the global economy, such as aluminium. He made a passing remark that the USG has a strategic problem in that the Russian mafia is suspected of having a sizable investment in XXXXXXXXXXXX. The second reason is the unanswered question regarding the extent to which Russian PM Putin is implicated in the Russian mafia and whether he controls the mafia’s actions. Grinda cited a "thesis" by Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian intelligence official who worked on OC issues before he died in late 2006 in London from poisoning under mysterious circumstances, that the Russian intelligence and security services – Grinda cited the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), and military intelligence (GRU) – control OC in Russia. Grinda stated that he believes this thesis is accurate.
Mr Putin told CNN there may be “political purposes” behind the leaks but added that they were “no catastrophe.” Regarding US diplomats referring to him as Batman to President Dmitry Medvedev’s Robin, Putin reacted angrily.