September 23, 1998 |
To Swiss authorities, Sergei Mikhailov is a dangerous man who heads one of Russia's largest crime groups from the isolation of his Geneva jail cell. He has been locked up without trial since October 1996 and going to occasional court appearances in an armored Mercedes with a SWAT team escort. Police arrested one of his Swiss lawyers, accusing him of smuggling Mikhailov's letters out of jail and passing them to an accomplice who faxed them to Moscow.
October 20, 1997 |
It's a familiar sight in Russia these days: the nervous businessman in his tailored lilac jacket, with a mobile phone over his ear and an emaciated beauty on his arm--and a pack of beefy bodyguards at his back. Private security has become one of Russia's biggest growth industries. Menacing men with guns are the brawn behind the brains of these operations.
August 16, 1997 |
The wind lifts the nets drying on the beach. A caviar poacher's rowboat has been pulled up on the hot sand. Muscles gleam on a fisherman's bare shoulders, and his pale, watchful eyes reflect the dance of the tides. Magomed the smuggler limps down the beach in southern Russia where he has come, most days this year, to buy supplies for his underworld trade: basins of gleaming black fish eggs, straight from the slashed belly of the sturgeon.
July 11, 1997 |
Russian Interior Minister Anatoly S. Kulikov last summer was a leading hawk in a Kremlin Cabinet of hard-liners pursuing a war against separatists in Chechnya. But a year is a long time in Russian politics. This summer, there is peace in Chechnya. Kulikov, now a lone figure in a new Cabinet of energetic young reformers, has been reduced to pursuing a very different war--against the prostitutes, known in Russian as "night butterflies," who flit through central Moscow in ever-increasing numbers.
April 6, 1997 |
In most countries, a cop's job is to catch robbers. But Russians are beginning to wonder if that is the case in their crime-ridden homeland, where officers often are as likely to be working for mafia bosses as putting them behind bars. When a notorious don was killed in a drive-by shooting here this year--under the noses of his burly bodyguards--what shocked ordinary people most was not the already commonplace juxtaposition of a snowy street, a flashy BMW and a bloody corpse.
November 28, 1996 |
When his wages failed to materialize for three months, Nikolai S. Lashkevich did what thousands of other Russians do when their government neglects to pay them and they have children to feed: He ripped off his workplace. Lashkevich's factory manufactured guns. In the evening, in his bedroom, he assembled stolen pieces of metal into guns while his two sons watched TV in the next room.