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The Russian MafiaPrivate Protection in a New Market Economy$
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Federico Varese

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198297369

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/019829736X.001.0001

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Searching for Protection

Searching for Protection

(p.75) 4 Searching for Protection
The Russian Mafia

Federico Varese (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

A variety of actors operate in the market for protection in Russia, and in order to establish how they interact with each other and with their clients/victims, this chapter and the next present an in-depth study of a particular Russian setting: the city of Perm, in the Ural region. Chapter 4 starts with a brief sketch of Perm’s history and traces the impact of market reforms on the structure of the city economy; further information on Perm is presented in Appendix B. This gives a sociological profile of those who benefited most from the transition to market in Perm, in particular the destination of the former Soviet elite, and shows that members of the former nomenklatura (a detailed list of posts in the Communist Party, Government, or elsewhere, to which individuals may not be appointed without personal interview and prior Party approval) entered the new economic elite. Based mostly on evidence from interviews carried out in 1994–95, and between 1996 and 1999, the chapter then traces the sources of harassment that small kiosk owners and businessmen are exposed to, and their search for effective protection, including their encounters with bogus and predatory ‘krysha’ (literally ‘roofs’ – the Russian slang for protection). Although this discussion is mostly devoted to criminal protectors, the market for protection proved to be populated not only by criminals: fragments of the state apparatus and private protection firms were also significant players.

Keywords:   businessmen, criminal protection, kiosk owners, krysha, nomenklatura, Perm, private protection, protection, protection services, Russia, state protection, transition to the market

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