Russian Society: The Russian Mafia Myth


Once again I had the pleasure of obtaining concrete evidence that one of the clichés in modern Russia is nothing more than a myth, or at least not as universal as Western media organizations suggest in articles, television reports and radio programs. As is usually the case in our hyperanxious society, the myth of danger, specifically mafia-induced danger, is for the average small-scale Russian entrepreneur no more of an issue than it is for their Western counterpart. Not only did the woman and man who had built up their now 10-person marketing company in a small city west of the Urals dispel the myth that in order to do business in Russia, you have to negotiate with the mafia, but they also explained the logical and simple development of their own business over the course of ten years: first working as freelancers, doing their job so well that they soon obtained too many orders for them to handle on their own, then hiring initially one assistant, then a second, and so on, organically developing their company - exactly like a good Western entrepreneur.Although the picture they painted was of course not entirely rosy - they do have to pay bribes, for example - it reflected the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that tends to be associated with the West. Now in Russia, people unable to rely on the State turn to the only thing they can be sure of: themselves. Within 10 years this husband and wife, in their early- to mid-thirties, had established a viable business that allowed them to travel to marketing conferences in Kiev, London, Moscow, etc., buy an apartment and a car without bank loans, and live a generally middle-class life.Of course there are numerous obstacles to developing any kind of business in Russia, not the least of which are bribes, but the element of danger, according to them, is not present. No threats to or on your life are being made: neither in the private sphere, which I have personally experienced over the last 3 years here, nor in the commercial sphere, as they attested to.There is perhaps an interesting academic study on this subject, specifically on the Russian mafia, though in this case in New York. It is called, I believe, The Russian Mafia, maybe The Russian Mafia in New York. The conclusion to which the book comes is that there is in fact no such monster as the Russian mafia in New York - it is nothing more than a myth that has developed over time. Perhaps there is a similar study on the Russian mafia in Russian. I would be grateful for any information if you know anything about such a work.
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