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McMafia - the untold story

RISJ Admin

Contributing Author

Salla Nazarenko writes:'The untold story: organised crime is the biggest business on earth' by Misha Glenny, RISJ Seminar on November 5th, 2008
From the poppy fields of Afghanistan to cyber crime – it is everywhere. And a lot of the blame is to be put on us in the West: it is us that keep the wheels of organised crime rolling by securing an insatiable demand for things like drugs, prostitution and illegal labour.
Misha Glenny, journalist and author of McMafia: a journey through the global criminal underworld spoke at the RISJ Wednesday seminar series on November 5th. The term 'McMafia' is Glenny's own and by that he means he system created by the economic liberalisation in the mid 1980s, following globalisation and finally the collapse of communism in 1989 that left hundreds of millions of people without jobs, political systems and hope for the future. It was there, in the ruins of former Communist bloc, where thousands and thousands of former employees of state security structures of the authoritarian communist governments created themselves new careers in the growing area of grey economy and cross-border crime.
Misha Glenny told the audience about his extensive research on the issue, reaching all around the world from Japan to Brazil. Formerly a BBC journalist and expert on former Yugoslavia, Mr Glenny started writing his book after the murder of Prime Minister of Serbia, Zoran Djindjic in 2003. Mr Djincjic was murdered after introducing the country's first witness protection act aiming at bringing gangsters to court.
Misha Glenny's presentation was a fascinating account of his in-depth research combined with his somewhat radical ideas on what can be done to fight McMafia. He underlined the importance of local journalists that he used as local experts and fixers.
"The key issue was trust", Mr Glenny said. "The criminals had to trust the local intermediaries, and I had to build a trusting relationship with my fixers".
In addition to interviews, Misha Glenny used court documents, press reports, police reports and much more. Many of the stories about organised crime circulating around the world are actually fiction, so verifying sources was very important.
And what are the radical ideas of Mr. Glenny on how to combat organised crime?
They are: global regulation of banking system to combat money laundry and corruption, more control over nuclear material production, more pressure on tobacco industry and finally - legalising drugs. According to Mr. Glenny, selling and distributing narcotics creates such great profits that fighting Mc Mafia will be virtually impossible as long as drugs trade remains an underground activity.