Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the general fall of communism throughout the Eastern Bloc, Russia has come to the fore as real heavyweight criminal nation. From one astronomically sized nation to now, fifteen states that are now recognised countries. Yet it is still such a huge and forbidding place. The Russian Mafia has expanded around the world, and their strong point in the USA is in the Brighton Beach area of New York.
However, the Judicial System throughout the fifteen states is slow and thoroughly corrupt. There are an estimated 6000 gangs operating throughout the nations, and many have former KGB men as leaders and/or killers. Kidnapping and murder are just a few of the pies they have their fingers in. During the first number of years that the borders were finally opened, the influx of western businesses provided them with a great income from extortion. In Moscow, it was said that no business could operate without a licence from one of the gangs, and western businessmen were targeted for kidnap and ransom.
What is very worrying for the authorities of every country, is that many former KGB agents had access to any type of military weapon. One former Columbian drugs smuggler asked a former agent with such connections, if he could purchase a submarine, as he thought he could load up with huge amounts of cocaine, and have a great method of avoiding detection. The agent asked if he wanted missiles with it!
The jails have to be the worst in the world. An American businessman, wrongly and falsely accused of embezzlement, spent some months in a jail in Siberia. Here, the temperature plummeted to 40 to 50 degrees below zero, and the cells were so freezing, they had to keep filling bottles with hot water, to use as a water bottle at least three times a night, just to get six hours sleep. As to be expected, many guards were violent and sadistic, and were permanently armed and not afraid to shoot anybody dead in an instant. Escape from this place was impossible. High fences with barbed wire, thick snow, armed guards, and in the middle of nowhere. What chance did anybody seriously have? There was a happy ending to this story. The businessman was cleared by an honest woman judge, because his accuser, who was simply a gangster, refused to turn up in court, and she showed that there were honest people in the Judicial System of the former Soviet States.
Makes you wonder how that "Hero" of our prison system, Bronson, would cope there? The guards would not put up with him, and what would he do without a captive audience? And if he tried his antics, how long would the other inmates put up with him?
One thing that has emerged is that Russian criminals have tattoos that signify their importance in the criminal hierarchy or the crimes that they have been convicted for. There are two books out called the "Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia" compiled by a long time guard with an interest in the markings inmates had on them.