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Russia is no longer an empire but not yet a "civic" nation - into this vacuum have stepped institutionalised corruption and criminality. John Lloyd traces the roots of the problem to Russia's Soviet past and its transition to the market economy, and says the situation is getting worse

By John Lloyd   January 1998

Many of the world’s most significant and powerful countries-the US, Italy, Japan-have high crime rates and/or apparently undefeatable organised crime networks. They have, however, corralled their criminal worlds into more or less defined sectors of the economy or society. By contrast, Russian crime permeates society from top to bottom-especially the top. Much of the way business gets done, and much of the way the country is governed, is criminalised to some degree. In September 1997, Judge William Webster, a former director of the CIA who chaired a committee investigating organised crime in Russia, wrote: “If the forces of organised crime…

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