The Mafia in Perm
The Mafia in Perm
If mafia groups are present in a market, they must be organized in some form. Two questions have generated a heated and long-running debate among scholars of the mafias: first, are criminal groups organized in a hierarchical and military fashion or, on the contrary, are they loose networks of individuals, getting together to perform a specific task; second, are these groups territorially or functionally organized? Chapter 6 addresses these two questions with reference to the city of Perm, which is in the Gulag Archipelago in the Ural region of Russia. It pieces together some elements in the history of Perm’s criminality at the time of the transition from the Soviet economic and political system to the market economy, discussing the legacy of the Gulag (in the shape of the criminal fraternity of the vory-v-zakone – thieves-with-a-code-of-honour – that flourished in the Soviet labour camps between the 1920s and the 1950s, and re-emerged in the 1970s) in relation to the contemporary criminal situation, the post-Soviet criminal groups that emerged in the city, and inter-group relations and conflicts. Lastly, it analyses the organizational arrangements (structure, size, and internal division of labour) of the mafia groups in Perm, and compares them with other gangs and mafias (principally the Sicilian Mafia or Cosa Nostra).
Keywords: criminal fraternity, criminal groups, criminality, Gulag Archipelago, inter-group relations, mafia groups, organization of mafia groups, Perm, Russia, Russia Mafia, Sicilian Cosa Nostra, Soviet labour camps, thieves-with-a-code-of-honour, transition to the market, vory-v-zakone
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