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Communist and Post-Communist Studies 42 (2009) 265e287

Crime, organised crime and corruption in post-communist Europe and the CIS
Leslie Holmes
School of Social and Political Sciences, John Medley Building, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia Available online 15 May 2009

Abstract This article examines the incomplete and sometimes contradictory evidence on the crime, organised crime and corruption situations in post-communist states, and then seeks to explain the apparent increase in all three in early post-communism. Among the factors considered are the impact of weak states and economies, neo-liberalism, globalisation, Schengen and Fortress Europe, the Communist legacy (the ghost from the past), and collusion. The article then examines the dynamics of criminality and malfeasance in the region, and provides evidence to suggest that the crime and corruption situation has stabilised or even improved in most postcommunist countries in recent times. The factors considered for explaining this apparent improvement are the role of external agents (notably the EU), the move from transition to consolidation, and the role of political will. 2009 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of The Regents of the University of California.
Keywords: Crime; Organised crime; Corruption; Post-communism; CEE; CIS

In the rst, euphoric weeks and months following the collapse of Communist power, some commentators claimed that the democratisation, marketisation and privatisation of the formerly Communist states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union would lead to a marked decline in corruption levels. In fact, virtually all of the measurement methods available suggest that most of the post-communist states experienced a marked increase in corruption. At the same time, several of them
0967-067X/$ - see front matter 2009 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of The Regents of the University of California. doi:10.1016/j.postcomstud.2009.04.002


L. Holmes / Communist and Post-Communist Studies 42 (2009) 265e287

appear to have experienced a substantial growth in both crime generally and organised crime more specically; the latter has been particularly pronounced in parts of South-Eastern Europe (SEE) and the CIS. But is the situation now beginning to improve? This article considers the incomplete and sometimes contradictory evidence on the crime, organised crime and corruption situations in post-communist states, and then seeks to explain the apparent increase in all three of them in the 1990s. It goes on to examine the dynamism of criminality in the region, showing how and why some states now appear to be beginning to get on top of these problems, while others continue to deteriorate. The overall crime situation Unfortunately, there are numerous and substantial problems involved in using recorded crime statistics to compare criminality across countries. One is that the denitions and categorisation of particular types of crime vary. There are also dierences over the kinds of crime-related statistics collected and published. While most countries provide aggregate data on all reported crimes, a few e most of the successor states to former Yugoslavia e provide details in national statistics yearbooks only on the number of persons accused, not the total number of crimes reported. Some countries e notably Latvia and Lithuania e have in the 2000s explicitly amended the way they record and present crime statistics, in both of these particular cases making them appear higher in more recent years than they would have had their previous methodology been applied (though any trends since the changes can still be discerned). The EU is acutely aware of these problems, as revealed in the European Councils Hague Programme (European Council Presidency, 2004, pp. 34). Because of this awareness, the EU Commissions statistical arm e Eurostat e has been authorised to collaborate with the statistical oces of each EU Member State and the Commissions Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security on a project designed to increase the level of standardisation of crime statistics.1 However, this is not to be completed until 2010 at the earliest, and it will apply only to some of the states considered here anyway. Eurostat standardisation is also unlikely to change the culture of reporting for many years anyway. This relates to a second group of problems, the actual recording process. Police forces vary in their levels of eciency, capacity, integrity and traditions. Some are much more thorough than others at registering every crime brought to their attention. Moreover, whereas some forces de-record a hitherto recorded oence if, after investigation, they determine that no oence took place, others register all reported crimes and retain these in their published records, whatever the outcome of investigations. Some police forces are simply more honest than others. While this can relate to the overall culture e notably ethical values e in

1 Details at: 3073,67701349,3073_67745354&_dad portal&_schema PORTAL (accessed 1.08.08).

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a given society, it can sometimes also be explained by system-related factors. Thus, if police forces and/or individual police ocers are judged or evaluated on the basis of clear-up rates, then it is often in their vested interest to report lower rates of criminality in order to make their ratio of cases solved to cases reported appear more impressive. A nal group of problems relates to the sources of reported crimes. A major problem for anyone engaged in comparative criminological analysis is that the propensity of citizens to report crimes to the authorities can vary markedly across systems. Cultural dierences are one reason that citizens in country A are more likely to report a particular crime than citizens in country B who have been victims of a similar crime. For instance, it is widely considered inappropriate in some societies for victims of certain types of crime to approach state authorities to seek justice. Rather, family or clan members, friends or the community are seen as best suited to administer justice (often more accurately described as revenge); parts of Albania and Georgia exemplify this. Some citizens prefer not to report crimes because they would consider this humiliating, or because of concern about self-incrimination (Killias et al., 2006: 25). An example of the latter of direct relevance to the present analysis is where citizens might consider reporting a corrupt ocial, but fear being charged themselves with having broken the law in having paid a bribe to that ocial. Other reasons for victim and citizen non-reporting include a lack of trust in the authorities e sometimes because of perceived high levels of corruption, and the possibility of collusion between the authorities and the criminals e and a belief that the authorities are ineectual, so that there is no point in reporting crime.2 Educational levels can also aect the propensity to report; in general, better-educated people are more likely to report crime than less educated people. This relates to factors such as overall personal condence, and the more specic condence required if reporting a crime involves the completion of a form. One practical reason why reporting rates dier so much is that citizens are more likely to report the theft of items of relatively small value to the police if those items are insured (for which their insurance company will require a police report number); in general, the more auent a society, the greater the percentage of citizens who insure their goods. Unfortunately in terms of explaining diering rates, this point about auence can also operate in the opposite direction. Thus, citizens from more prosperous societies are often less concerned about reporting the theft of goods they consider relatively inexpensive, such as mopeds, than their peers in countries in which such items are seen as more valuable, relative to income (Siemaszko, 1993: 89).

2 In the 2000 International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS), West Europeans were likely to report half of the crimes they experienced to the police, whereas CEE/CIS respondents were likely to report only one third. Part of the explanation for this is probably that West Europeans were clearly much more likely to be satised with the way the police handled their reports than were their CEE/CIS counterparts; CEE/CIS respondents were on average almost twice as dissatised with police performance as respondents in Western Europe. Finally, the surveys revealed that CEE/CIS respondents considered police ocers to be more corruptible than any other group of state ocials (Alvazzi del Frate and van Kesteren, 2004: 15e18 and 25e28).


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In sum, comparing registered crime rates across countries will remain problematic for the foreseeable future.3 It might, therefore, seem appropriate to throw our hands up in despair and the notion of comparison into the too hard basket. But this would be defeatist; despite all the problems involved, it is important to seek to maximise our knowledge of crime trends both within countries and across them. By employing dierent methodologies (multi-angulation), constantly attempting to rene each of them, and developing new ones, our understanding of the nature and scale of crime can improve. It will never be perfect but abandoning our imperfect methodologies only plays into the hands of criminals. Bearing these numerous caveats in mind, some of the statistics can now be presented and analysed. An obvious starting point is with the ocial statistics on the total number of crimes committed per annum in each state, standardised to render comparison somewhat less precarious. In light of the dierences in dening, classifying and reporting crimes, the gures in Table 1 must be treated with extreme caution. Their most useful function is not to determine whether country A is more or less prone to crime than country B, but rather in identifying over time trends in country A, then in country B, and so on; this is how they are used here. Using this method, and bearing in mind that some countries statistics are incomplete, it appears that crime rates have risen and may still be rising in ve states (Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Macedonia, Russia, Slovenia); have not changed substantially in three (Azerbaijan, Croatia, Kazakhstan); and may be falling in two (Albania, Uzbekistan). But by far the largest group of countries is that in which rates initially rose but are now apparently stabilising or even falling; fourteen countries are in this category (Armenia, Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Ukraine).4 Thus, in only ve countries out of 24 classied are crime rates still trending upwards e at least according to ocial statistics. Combining those countries in which the rate is still rising with those in which it did rise substantially in early post-communism, it emerges that nearly fourfths of states are either experiencing or have experienced signicant increases in their crime rates since the early-1990s; but of these, up to three-quarters are now seeing their rates either stabilised or declined. Given all the problems of comparability identied here, criminologists have devised alternative methods for gauging crime levels and trends, and these are much more useful for cross-polity analyses than a comparison of ocial statistics. The most valuable of these methods is crime victimisation surveys. These ask citizens about their direct experiences of various types of crime. The best known and most highly regarded are the International Crime Victim Surveys (ICVS), which have so far been administered on ve occasions (1989; 1992e1994; 1996e1997; 2000e2001; 2004e2005).
3 Interpol began to collect national crime statistics from many states in 1950, and used to make these publicly available on the Web. However, it ceased doing so in the early-2000s because of the possibility of misunderstanding and misuse; only authorised police personnel may now access them. 4 Four states e Bosnia and Hercegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkmenistan e have been excluded from this classication because of inadequate or no statistics.

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Whereas the 1st ICVS included very little from any post-communist state e only Warsaw was surveyed e the 2nd ICVS included an analysis of six transition units (four states e Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Georgia, Poland; and two cities e Moscow, Ljubljana e Zvekic, 1998: 19), while the 3rd analysed 19 CEE and CIS states5 plus Mongolia (of the post-communist states). One of the most interesting ndings from the mid-1990s surveys relates to respondents perceptions of their safety walking the streets after dark; a comparison with the overall reported crime rates summarised in Table 1 suggests a complex and partly contradictory relationship. Thus, respondents in several of the countries with low or medium crime rates in 1995, according to the recorded crime rates, were among those most nervous about going out after dark; this applies particularly to Ukraine, Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Conversely, the 2nd and 4th lowest fear factor scores were those for Slovenia and Hungary, both of which were countries with high ocial crime rates in 1995 and 1998. In some countries, however, there is a reasonable correspondence between recorded crime rates and the fear factor; this was true of Albania and Bulgaria. Overall, citizens in CEE and CIS states were in the mid-1990s more nervous about going out after dark because of criminality than their counterparts in Latin America, Africa, the New World, Western Europe or Asia (Zvekic, 1998: 82). While these ndings might suggest that some of the ocial recorded statistics are seriously at odds with reality, it would be unwise to assume this too readily; citizens fears might relate more to media coverage of crime or the age demographic (older people are often more nervous about venturing out at night) in a particular country than to any statistical probability that they will become victims of crime. The 4th (2000e2001) ICVS was conducted in nine states or micro-regions of Western Europe and 16 cities in CEE and CIS e the capitals of Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, and Ukraine (Alvazzi del Frate and van Kesteren, 2004: 4).6 Once again, space considerations necessitate selectivity here in citing ndings. Based on citizen experiences of a basket of eleven types of crime, the Estonian capital of Tallinn emerged as the most crime-prone, closely followed by (in descending order) the capitals of Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania and Albania. This time, with the notable exception of the Albanian case, the ICVS results are broadly in line with the 2000 recorded crime rates. At the other end of the scale, the CEE and CIS capitals with the lowest per capita experience of crime were Azerbaijans Baku and Croatias Zagreb; while the Azerbaijani results resonate well with the ocial crime rates, the Croatian ones do not. Overall, the average percentage of respondents who had been victims of at least one crime (the prevalence rate) was e at 27% e identical in both Western Europe and CEE/CIS. In this particular and rather depressing sense, CEE and CIS can be said to have become
5 Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Yugoslavia; sample size per country was between 1000 and 2000 respondents. 6 Note that the surveys in Tallinn and Ljubljana were subsets of national surveys conducted in Estonia and Slovenia. The ICVS was conducted globally; only the European subset is analysed here.


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Table 1 Registered crime rates (indicative only) in CEE and CIS states, selected years 1985e2007. Ocial rates per 100,000 population.
1985 Albania Armenia Azerbaijan Belarus BiH Bulgaria Croatia Czechia Estonia Georgia Hungary Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Latvia Lithuania Rep. Macedonia Moldova Montenegro Poland Romania Russia Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Tajikistan Turkmenistan Ukraine Uzbekistan 1990 342 215 738 772 1397 2517 1515 361 3291 906 675 1299 996 784 986 2317 276 1240 1319 1919 1995 208 269 258 1276 558 2342 1402 3639 2776 290 4864 815 987 1585 1682 686 1112 2525 1311 1860 2135 1918 317 516 1251 436 1998 195 283 188 650 402 1936 1230 4139 3315 325 5858 2000 170 317 173 1204 1827 1541 3813 4228 286 4418 1014 2123 2362 976 1050 3312 1577 1759 1651 3398 231 1161 300 2002 169 376 189 1282 1873 1754 3649 3930 384 4149 910 2116 2098 905 1001 3674 1434 1740 1996 3871 196 959 328 2004 314 201 2006 303 223 2007 261

584 541

969 1567


1529 2210 944 858 2775 1775 1779 1741 2793 219 1143 334

1831 1922 3440 3937 575 4148 952 640 2696a 2456a 1114 800 3828 1069 2007 2437 4334 163 1116

1776 1825 3271 3861 1417 4231 918 605 2732 2230 1079 690 3378 1079 2700 2135 4494 156 918

3440 1249 4250 822 558 2440 2185 681 3025

1463 990

2051 170 880



Sources: Most of the 1985 and 1990 gures are UN statistics from (accessed 8.08.08). The 1990 gure for Czechia is based on the national statistical yearbook, while Lotspeich (1995) is the source of the 1995 Turkmen gure. For all statistics from and including 1995 through 2006 for Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, and Slovakia e the gure has been calculated by the author on the basis of the number of Crimes recorded by the police on the Eurostat website ( PDF) and the population at years end. A small number of gaps were lled from the 1997 and 1998 editions of the CMEAs Statisticheskii Spravochnik; Encyclopaedia Britannica Book of the Year 1986: 940e945; 1991: 860e865; 1996: 882e887; 1999: 874e879; 2001: 874e879; 2003: 874e879 e and were in most cases calculated by the author on the basis of total number of crimes committed divided by the population and standardised. For countries not included in the UN or Eurostat databases and for all 2007 statistics, the gures have been either directly cited from, or else calculated by the author on the basis of national statistical yearbooks; where data are not available in the yearbooks, the author has contacted the relevant statistical oces by e-mail. But the empty cells in the table reveal that gaps remain. Notes: As noted in the text, the ways in which crimes are classied and recorded vary somewhat from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and sometimes even within one country over time. This is one reason why these data must be treated as indicative only. All gures are rounded to the nearest whole number; however, where the last digit is a 0, this is sometimes because the gure given in the National Statistics book is per 10,000, not per 100,000. Readers should also consult Killias et al. (2003: 33) and Killias et al. (2006: 37) for alternative statistics. These are mostly very similar to those cited above; they have not been used here because the Eurostat set is marginally more comprehensive (the 2nd ed. of Killias provides gures for 1995, 1998 and 2000, while the 3rd ed. covers two of the years required for the table e 2000 [revisited] and 2002). The 1st ed. provides crime rates for many of the CEE and CIS countries for 1990 e but, frustratingly, does so only for particular crimes, not the overall rate. Moreover, none of the three editions provides statistics for most states for which we have blank cells. a This country changed its methodology with eect from this year, and the data are not comparable with earlier data (though they are with later data).

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normal, now being e in aggregate e in line with European averages.7 On the other hand, CEE/CIS citizens were on average more than twice as likely to feel unsafe walking the streets at night as their West European counterparts; among CEE and CIS citizens, those who felt most at danger were inhabitants of Vilnius, Soa, Kiev, Minsk and Moscow, while those who felt least threatened were the citizens of Baku, Zagreb and Ljubljana (Alvazzi del Frate and van Kesteren, 2004). Although the full results of the 2005e2006 ICVS were not publicly available at the time of writing, most of the results of a European subset e the EU ICS, or European Union Crime and Safety Survey e were. Unfortunately, this includes ndings on only three post-communist states e Estonia, Hungary and Poland, as well as on the 15 countries that were Member States of the EU prior to May 2004. While this means that only a small cross-section of post-communist states can be considered on the basis of this survey, it is interesting to compare these three states with more established democracies elsewhere in Europe. Among the more noteworthy results was that Hungary had one of the lowest overall crime experience rates, while Estonia had one of the highest, with Poland being in the middle (Van Dijk et al., 2007a: 2). Such ndings are clearly at odds with the registered crime statistics presented in Table 1, according to which the order, highest rst, would be Hungary, Estonia and Poland for both 2004 and 2006. Given the sorts of mismatches identied here, it is not surprising that statistical analyses reveal the relationship between the number of recorded crimes and the number of crimes experienced in a given country to be e at best e weak. Indeed, the authors of a recent analysis of the ICVS and EU ICS noted that, The number of crimes recorded by the police bears hardly any relationship to the ICVS-based measure of crime (Van Dijk et al., 2007a: 25). A nal problem regarding comparison is that two countries may appear to have similar overall crime rates, but the crimes are mostly petty in one and serious (involving violence) in the other. Clearly, a distinction should be drawn between a country in which there are many bicycle thefts but a low homicide rate and one in which murder is common, but ones bicycle is less likely to be stolen. While this important point cannot be explored here, disaggregated data are available e on both reported crimes and from the crime victimisation surveys e that will answer many of the questions relating to this particular issue.8 On balance, the ICVS are likely to be a more accurate reection of reality than ocial statistics, though the fact that a dierent number of post-communist states is surveyed each time is regrettable; the ocial statistics are more complete, and are useful for tracking trends within a particular country.9 Despite their respective

7 If anything, the rates may have been slightly lower nationally in CEE/CIS, since crime rates in capital cities often exceed the national norm. 8 For reported crimes, see national statistics yearbooks; Killias et al. (2003, 2006). For experienced crimes see the various ICVS analyses cited here via 9 Poland is one post-communist state that has now appreciated that victimisation surveys are often a more accurate measure of crime rates than ocially recorded crimes. The Polish police authorities began commissioning what are planned to be regular large-scale (N 17,000) crime victim surveys in 2007. I am indebted to Prof. A. Siemaszko for alerting me to this fact.


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drawbacks, both methods yield some encouraging results. Before concluding this section on overall crime rates, reference can be made to observations that give further cause for cautious optimism, at least regarding some post-communist states. Thus, a comparison of two quotations referring to Poland, both based on actual experiences of crime but made almost 15 years apart, is encouraging. The rst dates from the early-1990s, and reveals a pessimistic view of the correlation between transition and crime rates: The Polish experience clearly shows .that the process of political and economic transformation is always accompanied by an unprecedented growth in the crime rate. (Siemaszko, 1993: 87). The second is a recent assessment of the Polish situation, and is far more upbeat: Poland, for which national (victimisation) data are available since 1990, shows a clear and consistent downward trend. From a European perspective, Poland has turned from a high crime into a medium crime country. (Van Dijk et al., 2007a: 23) Poland is not the only CEE/CIS country to have been reassessed in a more favourable light. In its travel advisories, the U.S. State Department has recently lowered its crime rating of Albania from high to medium, and has stated that the overall crime rate in Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, Czechia, the Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia is either relatively or generally low, and that Estonia and Lithuania are both relatively safe. Slovakias crime rate is described as medium. Conversely, the crime problem in Georgia is rated very serious, while Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are also seen as having high crime rates. To say that there is a mismatch between these assessments and most of the statistics in Table 1 would be an understatement. Conversely, it is encouraging to see that the crime situation in many CEE states e parts of the CIS are another matter e appears to be either stabilising or improving. Organised crime It is even more dicult to obtain reliable information about organised crime than about crime generally. Once again, this relates to several factors, including disagreement on what constitutes organised crime. While most authorities agree in principle that a clear distinction should be drawn between street, or predatory crime on the one hand, and organised crime on the other, distinguishing them in practice can be problematic. The latter is supposed to involve a level of continuity, for instance; but some street gangs also prove to be durable. While the term organised necessarily implies a level of coordination, many analysts believe it also involves strict hierarchical arrangements e whereas others argue that although this might have been true in the past, contemporary organised crime is typically structured along much more exible lines. For example, although elements of the Soviet-era Russian organised crime groups known as Thieves-in-Law still exist and remain highly-structured, most Russian crime gangs are more uid (United Nations Oce on Drugs and Crime, 2002; Schiller et al., 2004: 65, 66). Indeed, the uidity of many contemporary organised crime arrangements, both in Russia and more generally, has led some observers to refer to them as disorganised crime (Paoli, 2002; Galeotti, 2004; Reuter, 1983). Then there is the fact that many organised crime syndicates engage in semi- or even fully legitimate business as well as their criminal activities; a UK parliamentary research paper recently even dened organised crime groups as essentially businesses (Strickland

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et al., 2004: 7). Some analysts include oligarchs under organised crime, while others explicitly exclude them, treating them as sui generis. The list of denitional and boundary problems could continue for several pages. But one ramication of such diculties is that, unlike the situation with crime generally, most post-communist states publish no systematic data on organised crime.10 Hence, it is not possible to produce a comparative table akin to Table 1, even allowing for the latters problematic nature. In the absence of even semi-reliable ocial data, this section focuses on three countries in which the problem of organised crime has widely been portrayed as particularly serious e Russia, Bulgaria and Albania.11 It begins by providing evidence for the claim that organised crime in these countries e and its eects beyond these countries e has been seen as a serious threat. Following this is consideration of whether the situation appears to be improving, worsening, or stabilising. At an all-Russian conference on organised crime and corruption held in February 1993, President Yeltsin stated that Crime has started to become the No.1 threat in Russia and that Organised crime has become a direct threat to Russias strategic interests and national security (TASS, 12 February 1993; BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 15 February 1993), while Izvestiya claimed in January 1994 that 70e 80% of banking and private business in Russia was under the control of organised crime (Goldman, 2003: 177). While such claims are based more on perception than on scientic research, they testify to the widespread and serious concern that organised crime was causing within Russia during the 1990s. This concern was not peculiar to Russia; many other countries were also increasingly alarmed. Perhaps the best example of this is the USA, where the authorities took the threat of post-Soviet (including but not exclusively Russian) organised crime seriously in the 1990s. A Tri-State (New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) Joint Soviet migre Organized Crime Project was established in 1992 (Williams, 1997: 177e226). E The FBI established special investigative squads for Eurasian Organized Crime in several U.S. cities e including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles e between 1994 and 1999. By the mid-1990s, the heads of both the FBI and the CIA were warning Congress that Russian organised crime and corruption were undermining the Russian system and could pose a serious threat to the USA, in part because of Russias less than secure nuclear stockpile (Webster, 1997: esp. 3, 51; Farah, 1997). The FBIs concern about the impact of post-communist organised crime on the West generally was such that it established a Eurasian Organized Crime Working Group in
10 For an excellent survey of the patchy Russian statistics on organised crime, highlighting the contradictions and confusion, but also that both the number of gangs and the number of people involved in organised crime appear to have declined in the 2000s, see Serio, 2008: 71e94. For an even higher gure than any cited by Serio e an unsourced claim that Russian organised crime includes 250,000 former members of the Red Army e see Gruba c (2008: 31). 11 This list is to some extent arbitrary, and others would produce alternative lists. For example, Athanassopoulou (2005b: 4) maintains that Kosovo is the notorious criminal capital of SEE, while some would want to include Serbia. The choice here is based partly on my own perceptions and knowledge, and partly on the availability of materials. On organised crime in other post-communist countries and regions see e.g. Shelley (1998) (Ukraine); Hignett (2004) (Czechia, Hungary and Poland); Athanassopoulou (2005a) (SEE); No zina (2006) (Czechia); Giatzidis (2007) (SEE).


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1994 that now works under the auspices of the G8 (the original G7 countries, plus Russia itself) and exists primarily to address the transnational aspects of Eurasian organised crime.12 While the USA has in the 2000s placed less emphasis than it did on the threat posed by post-Soviet organised crime, the Wests overall concern remains.13 A recent piece of evidence is the EUs April 2008 announcement of the commissioning of a Russian Organised Crime Threat Assessment, to be drafted by Europol, because of what the EU somewhat opaquely called organised crime groups relative to certain regions constituting .a serious threat to the security of the European Union and its Member States (Council of the European Union, 2008: 1). Even before it joined the EU, Bulgaria was under pressure from Brussels to address the issue of organised crime more enthusiastically than it had been; and ever since Bulgaria became a Member State (January 2007), it has been criticised for continuing to do too little. While some of the evidence on organised crime is imsy and anecdotal, the fact that perceptions matter e and that these can be measured e will tell us something about organised crime, and about what citizens believe are the connections between organised crime and corruption. Thus, a survey on people smuggling conducted by Vitosha Research on behalf of the author in November 2004 revealed that 58% of Bulgarians either agreed or strongly agreed with the notion that people entering their country illegally did so with the assistance of organised crime gangs, while 55% of these respondents believed that the gangs colluded with corrupt ocials.14 While such perceptions may be at odds with reality e and nobody knows for certain e it does suggest that the Bulgarian authorities need to address the issue, even if only to correct misperceptions. Much Bulgarian organised crime activity has been dominated by the so-called wrestlers, some of whom actually had been wrestlers, while others had been athletes of various kinds or simply looked like wrestlers.15 Unlike the situation in Russia, there was little history of Bulgarian organised crime dating from the communist period; rather, it was: .created by the transitional state (Nikolov, 1997: 80). Bulgarian mobsters have had a reputation for being particularly violent towards
The FBI website e (accessed 7.08.08) e denes Eurasian Organized Crime as .organized crime groups comprised of criminals born in or with family from the former Soviet Union or Central Europe. It is thus broader than just Russian organised crime, although it was initially organised crime originating primarily from Russia that interested the FBI. 13 The relative decline in U.S. interest is partly borne out by the fact that the National Criminal Justice Reference Service refers readers to assessments of the Russian threat that are relatively old (nothing more recent than 2001) e 265&context 9 e even though the website was updated in May 2008 (accessed 7.08.08). 14 The survey was of 1001 respondents, face-to-face. A similar survey run in Poland in the same month (N 998; survey conducted by CBOS) produced almost identical gures e with 59% of Poles agreeing that illegal migration involved organised crime gangs, and 54% of these believing that corrupt ocials colluded with organised crime gangs in this activity. 15 This physical stereotype can be found in other post-communist countries. Thus, the Poles sometimes refer to their own gangsters as ABSs or absolutnie bez szyi (absolutely without necks). On the wrestlers see Gounev (2006: 110e112); Bezlov et al. (2007): esp. 12e14 e while Volkov, 2002 describes somewhat similar phenomena in the Russian context.

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each other, arguably even more so than their Russian counterparts.16 Nevertheless, there appear to have been some potentially positive developments. Thus, when a new government came to power in 1997, it made clear its determination to stop violent protectionism e but also acknowledged that legitimate security and insurance companies were needed, and urged gangs to re-direct their activities into these two legal types of company (though they had to be kept separate e Gounev, 2006: esp. 114). Some Bulgarian mobsters did respond to this government directive, and are now running more or less legitimate companies. The transmutation of organised crime into legitimate business is nothing new globally, but this constitutes a concrete example from the post-communist world. One nal positive sign was that, though still relatively high, the level of violence in Bulgaria relating to organised crime declined in the early-2000s in comparison with the 1990s (Bezlov et al., 2007: 35) e though it may recently have begun to rise again! In order to address organised crime in both Albania and SEE more generally, 12 SEE governments established the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) Regional Center for Combating Trans-Border Crime; this became operational in 2000 and is headquartered in Bucharest. SECIs principal task is to coordinate the activities of national police and customs forces to combat transnational crime in SEE. Its success has been limited; but SECIs very existence testies to concern in the region by the late-1990s, which was when the idea was rst mooted. Citing the current (2008) FBI website once again is a useful starting point for demonstrating that Albanian organised crime, as part of SEE (which the FBI prefers to call Balkan) crime, is of growing international e not simply regional e concern: Balkan organized crime is an emerging threat in the USA.17 Despite this blanket term of Balkan organised crime, the country focused on in the FBI blurb is Albania. Although Albanian organised crime has not been researched or analysed as much as its Russian and Bulgarian counterparts, it has assumed a higher prole in recent years because of its apparently greater propensity than any other branch of European organised crime to use violence (Hysi, 2006: 546). In contrast to contemporary Bulgarian organised crime, its history is a long one, traceable to the fteenth century; much of it is clan-based. It became a serious problem for Italy, in particular, during the 1990s, since crime gangs were both smuggling and tracking Albanians e mainly women for the sex industry e into Italy. One of the salient features of the Albanian penetration of Italy was that it targeted Northern Italy, rather than the South; it is likely that this was either part of a pact made between Southern Italian and Albanian gangsters or because of the latters fear of the former. Not only were people tracked by Albanian gangs often subject to violence at their hands, but many also drowned. Even Italian state ocials were under threat; police ocers have
16 I am indebted to my Bulgarian research assistant Katya Malinova for providing me with numerous examples from the Bulgarian media. 17 The FBI denes Balkan Organized Crime as .organized crime groups originating from or operating in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania. (accessed 7.08.08).


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been killed in shoot-outs with the trackers, while anti-maa prosecutors such as Cataldo Motta have had to be given round-the-clock protection against not only Italian but also Albanian organised crime (Barron, 2000). Cooperation between the Italian and Albanian authorities in the early-2000s appears to have encouraged most Albanian gangsters to steer away from Italy. Unfortunately, they simply moved elsewhere, having been seen by the early-2000s as a growing threat not only by the USA, but also by the British government (Cobain, 2002). Even more than with crime generally, much of the information available on CEE and CIS organised crime is vague and/or speculative. Nevertheless, there is more information than is often assumed. As with both general crime and corruption, surveys have been conducted of respondents actual experience of organised crime in CEE and CIS. One of the best known is the International Crime Business Survey (ICBS) that was conducted in nine CEE and CIS capitals (of Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Russia and Ukraine) in 2000, and focused on businesses experiences of corruption, fraud, extortion and intimidation; it followed a similar but less thematically focused survey conducted in eight countries during 1994. The 2000 ICBS focused mainly on smaller enterprises, and discovered that almost one in 10 businesses across the region (nearly one in three in Minsk) had experienced intimidation or extortion during 1999; of these, some 9% involved a direct threat of violence with weapons. Approximately, 8% of businesses across the region had been coerced into paying protection money the previous year (again, the situation was worst in Minsk, where the gure exceeded 30%). But reecting the fear many businesses have that the police would be unable to protect them against reprisals, 70% of respondents did not report these crimes to the police (Alvazzi del Frate, 2004).18 What conclusions can be drawn about organised crime? The direct threat of Russian and post-Soviet crime to the USAs security might never have been very great, even in the 1990s. This was the position adopted by James Finckenauer and Elin Waring in their detailed study of crimes committed by Russian and post-Soviet migrants to the USA, in which they reach the conclusion, .which may be startling to some .that the Russian organized crime in America widely known as the Russian Maa is rst, not Russian; second, not a maa; and third, not even organized crime (Finckenauer and Waring, 1998: xiv). Finckenauer repeated the argument that the threat from postSoviet migrant crime was not as serious a security threat to the USA in a later study he co-authored with Yuri Voronin (Finckenauer and Voronin, 2001; Finckenauer and Waring, 2001). This is not to say they claimed there was no threat; and that is not being suggested here. But it should be borne in mind that the West needed to identify an enemy following the end of the Cold War and what Fukuyama misguidedly called the End of History. While that enemy eventually crystallised on 11 September 2001, its
18 Another source on business experience of organised crime, and which is likely to become more useful in the future, is the World Banks BEEPS (Business Enterprise Economic Performance Survey). This has been completed three times (1999, 2002, 2005). But while the 2005 BEEPS included a question that explicitly referred to organised crime (Q.32b), the earlier surveys were more circumspect, so that they cannot be used for tracking trends. It is likely that this will be possible in the future, however, as more BEEPS are conducted using the 2005 explicit question.

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identity was more disputed during the 1990s. This is not to engage in conspiracy theories, and it is not suggested here that the threat from post-communist organised crime was purely a gment of the imagination of security agencies needing a post-Cold War raison detre. While there may have been an element of this, several Western intelligence services were probably genuine in their concerns about the eects of organised crime on Western societies; after all, in the case of Russian and Ukrainian organised crime in particular, mobsters with apparently no ethics and no commitment to self-discipline were operating in countries that still had huge nuclear stockpiles that were not totally secure and in which there were large numbers of corrupt or corruptible ocials. In this context, it is worth noting that the G7 summit held in Halifax (Canada) in 1995 focused on crime and nuclear safety, and agreed with Russia to establish a special task force to address the issue of transnational crime (Financial Times, 19 June 1995). Add to this the much more exible borders of the post-1989 world and the rise of the internet e which dramatically enhanced a new type of crime, cyber crime e and it becomes obvious that much of the concern was valid. Parts of the scholarly community were also aected by, and contributed to, the perception of a serious threat from organised crime at about this time, as seen in the setting up of the journal Transnational Organized Crime (rst issue Spring 1995)19 and the establishment of two research centres for analysing organised crime and corruption e the Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) in Washington DC (founded 1995), and the Jack and Mae Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized Crime and Corruption in Toronto (founded 1996). On the one hand, the reaction of both Western authorities and the academic community was impressively quick; on the other hand, the overall danger may have been overstated e though it is easy to say this in hindsight. In all events, and while the dangers of CEE and CIS organised crime should not be underestimated any more than they should be exaggerated, recent evidence on much of it suggests that it, too, may be less of a problem now than it was in the 1990s.20

Corruption An appreciation of how serious the problem of corruption is perceived to be in ` -vis Bulgaria in July some SEE states can be gleaned from the actions of the EU vis-a 2008. What was meant to be a condential report by OLAF (the EUs anti-fraud
This journals name was changed to Global Crime with eect from the beginning of 2004. It was argued above (note 13) that some of the best known ocial analyses published on Russian organised crime are now a little dated, and that this suggests that the threat is not perceived to be as great as it was. Much the same can be said of scholarly analyses of the threat of organised crime and nuclear materials (Allison et al., 1996; Lee, 1998) e and indeed of Russian organised crime generally (Williams, 1997; Frisby, 1998; Friedman, 2000; Varese, 2001; Galeotti, 2002; Volkov, 2002). However, the interest has certainly not disappeared altogether (Galeotti, 2004; Serio, 2008, Orttung and Latta, 2008). On recent U.S. concern about security threats from transnational organised crime, see Wagley, 2006; while this analysis does not focus specically on Russian or post-Soviet organised crime as such, it argues (p. 4) that many analysts consider the greatest threat from transnational organised crime to be the smuggling of nuclear materials and technology, and singles out the former Soviet Union in this context.
20 19


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watchdog) was leaked by sources inside Bulgaria. According to the report, millions of Euros granted to Bulgaria in the pre-accession phase for rural and agricultural development may have been corruptly siphoned o. The July 2008 warning to Soa was just the latest in a string of such warnings that had been given to Bulgaria and Romania both prior and subsequent to their admission to the EU in January 2007 (Economist, 17 July 2008). Obtaining statistics on corruption is at least as dicult as for crime generally, if not quite as problematical as for organised crime. Most countries do not systematically publish gures on corruption rates, while the reliability of those that do is often questionable.21 As with crime generally, many cases of corruption are never reported; but the problem is exacerbated by the fact that the victim of corruption is often an abstraction (the state, society), and hence will not report crime. In cases where citizens have paid bribes, they often fear falling foul of the law themselves, and so do not report corrupt ocials with whom they have been dealing. Because of these and other problems, analysts have devised several alternative methods for assessing the level of corruption in a given society. The most common is perception surveys, of which the best known globally is the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (TI CPI). This has been published annually since 1995, although only one post-communist state (Hungary) was included in the rst CPI. The results of the CPIs for CEE and CIS countries are in Table 2. So many points could be highlighted from Table 2 that selectivity is again necessary here.22 Moreover, a number of states have been assessed only recently, so that some patterns must be seen as very short-term and tentative. It is dicult to discern a general pattern across the post-communist world. Even employing a 4-category classication e improvers, deteriorators, steady staters (uctuating only within 0.5 points over time) and mixed e many countries still do not t comfortably into any of them. Albania, Croatia and Romania, for instance, were all steady staters for most of the period, but have made signicant improvements recently; but given that these improvements have only emerged in 2007 or 2008, these countries are still classied as steady staters here. With this important caveat in mind, it appears that the 16 steady staters are Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Kazakhstan (since the early-2000s), Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania (following a marked improvement at the beginning of the 2000s), Moldova (following a marked improvement in the mid2000s), Montenegro (assessed in its own right only very recently), Romania,
21 Though for statistics on the number of ocially recorded bribery and corruption cases in many countries 1986e1990, including what are now 16 CEE and CIS states plus Former Yugoslavia and Present Yugoslavia, go to (accessed 10.08.08). Unfortunately, the table is vague about what is being included, sources and other details. 22 Another ranking system is that devised by Freedom House; in addition to perceptions, this includes acknowledgement of how many high-level ocials are prosecuted, new anti-corruption legislation, and an attempt to rate the ecacy of ocial anti-corruption campaigns, to produce a composite score. The FH and TI rankings of CEE and CIS countries for 1999 have been directly compared in tabular form by the President of Freedom House, Adrian Karatnycky, in his prepared submission before a U.S. commission hearing (Smith, 2000: 66, 67 and 71) e and show a remarkably high level of agreement.

L. Holmes / Communist and Post-Communist Studies 42 (2009) 265e287 Table 2 TI CPI scores for CEE and CIS states, selected years 1996e2008. 1996 Albania Armenia Azerbaijan Belarus BiH Bulgaria Croatia Czechia Estonia Georgia Hungary Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Latvia Lithuania Rep. Macedonia Moldova Montenegro Poland Romania Russia Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Tajikistan Turkmenistan Ukraine Uzbekistan 1998 2000 2.5 1.5 4.1 3.5 3.7 4.3 5.7 5.2 3.0 3.4 4.1 2.6 5.6 2.9 4.6 3.0 2.4 3.0a 3.9 4.1 2.9 2.1 1.3a 3.5 5.5 2002 2.5 2.0 4.8 4.0 3.8 3.7 5.6 2.4 4.9 2.3 3.7 4.8 2.1 4.0 2.6 2.7 3.7 6.0 2004 2.5 3.1 1.9 3.3 3.1 4.1 3.5 4.2 6.0 2.0 4.8 2.2 2.2 4.0 4.6 2.7 2.3 3.5 2.9 2.8 2.7a 4.0 6.0 2.0 2.0 2.2 2.3 2006 2.6 2.9 2.4 2.1 2.9 4.0 3.4 4.8 6.7 2.8 5.2 2.6 2.2 4.7 4.8 2.7 3.2 3.7 3.1 2.5 3.0 4.7 6.4 2.2 2.2 2.8 2.1 2007 2.9 3.0 2.1 2.1 3.3 4.1 4.1 5.2 6.5 3.4 5.3 2.1 2.1 4.8 4.8 3.3 2.8 3.3 4.2 3.7 2.3 3.4 4.9 6.6 2.1 2.0 2.7 1.7


2008 3.4 2.9 1.9 2.0 3.2 3.6 4.4 5.2 6.6 3.9 5.1 2.2 1.8 5.0 4.6 3.6 2.9 3.4 4.6 3.8 2.1 3.4 5.0 6.7 2.0 1.8 2.5 1.8

3.9 2.9 5.4 4.8 5.7 5.0




1.5 2.4

2.4 2.9

Notes: The TI CPI is scaled 0e10; the lower the score, the more corruption there is perceived to be. Blank cells mean that this country was not assessed that year (usually because of insucient survey data). For the numerous methodological problems involved in using the CPIs see S k (2002) and Galtung (2006). a Includes Montenegro.

Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine (though it improved signicantly in the early2000s, albeit from a low base). It must be noted that the level of the steady state varies considerably across this group; it would be quite unfair to lump Hungary together with Azerbaijan, for instance. The seven overall improvers are Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Two states have clearly deteriorated in recent years e Belarus markedly so, Uzbekistan less dramatically so, though moving from just bad to very bad (the worst or equal worst of all 28 states included here for both 2007 and 2008)! Finally, there are the states that have been mixed, that is, inconsistent e Czech Republic, Poland and Russia; of these, the rst two have improved recently (Czech Republic more than Poland), while Russia clearly improved in Putins rst term of oce, but has since deteriorated again. Overall, however, the pattern is encouraging; the corruption situation appears to be worsening in only a tiny minority of post-communist states.


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The table also indicates a high level of consistency over time in terms of the least and most corrupt post-communist states. Thus, Estonia, Slovenia and Hungary consistently emerge in the TI CPI as the least corrupt post-communist states, while Russia, Ukraine, and the Islamic Soviet successor states appear to be the most corrupt. Perception surveys are important, since perceptions are a form of reality and can aect the way people behave e for instance, in investment decisions e and systems operate. Conversely, they do not necessarily tell us much about real rates of corruption. While these can never be gauged with a high level of accuracy e particularly concerning corruption in the upper echelons of the state e asking respondents in surveys about their actual experiences of corruption, as distinct from their impressions about it, is nowadays seen as a relatively reliable measure of corruption. It is, therefore, to such experiential survey results that we turn. Once again, the ICVSs are a particularly valuable source of information (though see too Miller et al., 2001). The 2nd ICVS revealed that, in the early-1990s in the few CEE and CIS states surveyed, Georgia e where almost 21% of respondents had been subject to demands in the year before the survey e and Moscow (almost 12%) were clearly the most corrupt; they were followed by Poland (5.1%), Czechoslovakia (2.4%) and, bottom of the list, Ljubljana (0.6%). The 1996e1997 ICVS revealed that, while the overall situation in the transition states of CEE and the CIS was not as bad as in the developing world e with an average of approximately 13% of citizens in the former reporting recent experiences of ocial corruption, compared with almost 18% in the latter e it was noticeably worse than in the established democracies of Europe, where direct experience of corruption was relatively rare (1.0%). Moreover, the percentage of citizens directly experiencing corruption varied dramatically across the 20 post-communist states e from almost 30% in Georgia, more than 21% in Kyrgyzstan and just over 19% in Bulgaria to 3.9% in Hungary, 3.8% in Estonia and a mere 1.5% in Slovenia (Zvekic, 1998: 48e50). These ndings are very much in line with TI assessments.23 In the 2000e2001 ICVS, the single biggest dierence between the crime experiences of West Europeans and CEE/CIS respondents related to corruption. Whereas an average of 17% of respondents in CEE and CIS capital cities had been asked or expected to pay a bribe in the previous year, a negligible 0.2% of the West European respondents had. Once again, the CEE/CIS average conceals substantial dierences. At one end of the spectrum were respondents from Baku and Minsk (21% had experienced corruption in this way during the previous year), Vilnius (23%) and Tirana (a staggering 59%!), while at the other, only 2% of the Slovene capitals

23 The reader is reminded that not all CEE and CIS countries were included in the 3rd ICVS. Moreover, the statement about the TI correlation is based on the nearest year for which there is a reading for the particular country; in this regard, note that the Kyrgyz and Georgian TI assessments, in particular, are based on surveys conducted several years after the ICVS ones. Unfortunately, this is the best that can be done with the available data.

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respondents and 6% of Pragues respondents had (Alvazzi del Frate and van Kesteren, 2004: 25e28). The 2005 EU ICS revealed that the three post-communist states had almost the highest rates of recent experience of corruption; only Greece was worse (it had not been included in the 2000e2001 survey). Thus, whereas the average percentage of respondents in the EU claiming to have been asked for or expected to pay a bribe to state ocials in 2004 was just 1.4% (with most countries being below 0.5%), the gure was 4.8% in Hungary, 4.4% in Poland and 3.1% in Estonia (Greece was a high 13.5%) (Van Dijk et al., 2007a: 3, 56 and 112).24 But while Hungary had not been assessed on this variable in previous ICVSs, both Poland and Estonia had e and their 2005 scores were the lowest they had been throughout the 1990s and 2000s. This sample is far too small to allow any general conclusions about the decline of corruption in post-communist states; but it can at least be concluded that the picture is not all bleak. Moreover, Van Dijk et al. (2007a: 55) correlated their ndings (for all the EU states they examined) with the TI CPI scores, and found a high level of agreement (r .73); again, while this cannot be taken as conclusive, and did not include many post-communist states, it does suggest that the CPI generally produces results that are more robust and closer to the actual situation than some of its critics claim. One other encouraging aspect of this methodological comparison is that the cohorts were dierent (TI assessments are based very much on businesspeoples responses, rather than the population at large); given this, the relatively high correlation is even more reassuring.25 Other methods for assessing the level of corruption e notably tracking surveys (Reinikka and Svensson, 2003) e have been used in other parts of the world. It would be worthwhile conducting them in post-communist states; but in the absence of such surveys, this must remain on the wish-list for now.26 It does mean, however, that there is scope for additional methods to be applied in multi-angulation as we try to rene and improve our assessments of the level of corruption in individual CEE and CIS states.

Explanations for the rise e and sometimes demise e of crime and corruption The apparent rise of crime and corruption in the post-communist world in the 1990s can be explained by many factors; just a few can be considered here, and then
24 Bulgaria was not included in the EU ICS, but was the only other CEE/CIS state included in the 2005 ICVS; it emerged as worse than any of the three other post-communist states listed here e at 8.4% e though it was still not as bad as Greece (Van Dijk et al., 2007b: 88e92). 25 One way of conducting a more comparable analysis of dierent methods would be to compare the TI ndings with the experiential surveys of businesspeople. In addition to the ICBS, the most useful for this exercise would be the BEEPS surveys mentioned earlier; unlike the situation with organised crime, these have included questions on corruption from the beginning. 26 However, tracking surveys are apparently being or about to be conducted in Albania, the Republic of Macedonia and Russia e EXTPUBLICSECTORANDGOVERNANCE/EXTPUBLICFINANCE/EXTPEAM/0,,contentMDK: 20235447~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:384393,00.html (accessed 26.12.08).


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only briey. Before elaborating them, however, it must be noted that there is evidence that data e of all sorts e were often manipulated in the communist world. This, plus the fact that the media became much more open in most post-communist states in the 1990s, means that we cannot be certain that crime and corruption really increased as much as they appeared to do in many countries during the 1990s. One other introductory caveat is that some factors are peculiar to a particular country or region. For example, the fact that international sanctions were imposed on former Yugoslavia in the 1990s has been seen by several analysts as a factor encouraging both organised crime and corruption, as the country sought to obtain supplies that the international community was trying to prevent it from accessing. This encouraged more criminal behaviour not only in Yugoslavia itself, but also in neighbouring countries that were supplying it, including Bulgaria (Bezlov et al., 2007: 16, 17). Equally, violent conict situations in some parts of CEE and the CIS greatly exacerbated some of the more general diculties outlined below; but this factor, too, applies only to a minority of states. Factors that applied to all or many states can now be considered. The rst factor is the combination of a weak state and a weak economy. Although this is not always suciently acknowledged by comparative transitologists, postcommunist states had to undergo far more comprehensive transitions than Latin American or Southern European states, so that their transitions were typically even more problematic. All of the CEE and CIS states had signicant economic problems throughout the 1990s, so that they had inadequate policing resources to make substantial inroads in the ght against crime. Moreover, many ocers of the state were seriously underpaid or not paid at all, making corruption a more attractive proposition than it would have been under better circumstances. The weak economy and state also led to despair in many sections of the general population, including among former ocers of the state who had been retrenched. The latter were often lured into organised crime, while the former were sometimes either tempted into general crime themselves or else became easy targets for trackers; this last point applied even more forcefully in CEE and CIS countries that experienced violent conict. The combination of poor state control with widespread despair and economic hardship is a powerful explicator of increased rates of general crime and corruption and the growth of organised crime. The inuence of neo-liberalism e our second factor e can be seen not only in CEE states that adopted a version of it, but also in the overall international economic climate in which other CEE/CIS states were operating. Neo-liberalism blurs the boundaries between the state and the market, which plays into the hands of potentially corrupt ocials, and can explain how ocial corruption encourages the growth of organised crime through the creation of new opportunities. Globalisation is closely related to neoliberalism; but the focus here is on the new opportunities generated particularly by globalised communication technologies or cyber crime (Wall, 2001, 2007). The communist legacy e the ghost from the past e also helps to explain corruption and, to a lesser extent, organised crime. This includes the culture of bureaucratic corruption and the tradition of organised crime in some states. It also helps to explain why there seems to have been a genuine problem for many post-

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communist ocials in the 1990s in understanding the concept of conict of interest; in this sense, neo-liberalism and the communist legacy overlap, since both blur the distinction between the state and the economy (Holmes, 1999, 2006). It must also be acknowledged that much of the reason for the weak economies that so typied early post-communism, and which were emphasised above, was that the communist model had failed, leaving economies throughout Eastern Europe and the USSR in a sorry state by the end of the 1980s. The ease of travel within the Schengen zone plays into the hands of organised crime, once gangs have moved into the zone or transported illicit items (or illegal migrants) into it. Against this is the fact that entering the zone in the rst place has become more dicult, leading some to refer to Fortress Europe. Misha Glenny (2005) is among those who make the point that restrictive West European policies on labour movement for those outside the EU, particularly those who live in troubled and impoverished countries such as many of the SEE countries have been since the early-1990s, encourages desperate people to break rules and seek illegal migration. This is conducive to people smuggling and human tracking, much of which is organised by crime syndicates, as well as to corruption by ocials in visa departments, customs, and border control. As Glenny points out, an irony of this situation is that many West European countries need to boost their labour forces if their ageing populations are to enjoy reasonable living standards in their twilight years; many SEE citizens would be willing to perform the more menial tasks in Western societies that most Westerners appear unwilling to perform. While it is acknowledged that corruption and organised crime are interactive, the more powerful driver is corruption; high rates of corruption encourage organised crime. In light of this, the issue of collusion is highly germane. In 1996, former head of the CIA, James Woolsey, claimed that ocials in the Russian Ministries of Defence and the Interior were .very much in bed with Russian organized crime groups (Webster, 1997: 51). Well-regarded specialist on Central Asia, Nancy Lubin, reported to a U.S. government commission in 2000 that, according to survey research undertaken by her and colleagues in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan (N is >2000), the going rate in the mid-1990s for a bribe to a judge or prosecutor to release someone from trial for a low level organised crime oence was approximately US$10,000. Her team also reported that almost 30% of police ocers in an expert survey claimed that their colleagues were usually colluding with organised crime (Smith, 2000: 76). And the July 2008 OLAF report on Bulgaria cited above acknowledged its strong suspicion that organised crime was involved with corrupt government ocials in creaming o EU funding (Economist, 17 July 2008). Given these and other factors, how is it that many states e probably a majority, at least in CEE e are now improving? Here, just three out of numerous factors will be mentioned. One is the role of external agents. When the EU produced its Agenda 2000 in 1997 concerning the next expansion, it also produced individual studies of the issues each applicant state was to address before it could be admitted. The only factor mentioned in the political section of each of the individual analyses of CEE applicants was corruption, and several states made serious eorts to reduce it. While it would be going too far to argue a clear line of causality here, it is interesting to


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note that none of the post-communist states that appear to have the worst corruption rates is either in the EU or likely to be in the foreseeable future. Second, most of the post-communist states have more or less stabilised in recent years; a majority of economies have turned around, the legislative lag of the 1990s is being overcome, institutions are crystallising and becoming more eective, most state ocials are being paid regularly and in full, and citizens are less uncertain than they were about the future of their country. Thus, as transition slowly mutates into consolidation e more so in CEE than in the CIS e crime and corruption rates either stabilise or decrease. Finally, many analysts have argued that the single most important factor in reducing corruption is political will. In fact, this is a necessary but insucient condition. It is not enough for a political leader or leadership team to be committed to ghting crime and corruption for these to be reduced; that leadership must also have the capacity to implement its will. This implies, inter alia, an adequate state apparatus, which in turn is related to the economic improvements and general institutionalisation referred to above. But in addition e and this is often overlooked e it means that there needs to be a loyal apparatus willing to implement the will of the leadership. Ideally, most of the general population will also be committed to reducing crime and corruption. In short, the notion of political will must include the attitudes and commitment e the will e of those charged with implementing leadership policies, and preferably of the citizenry. Thus, Georgias apparent improvement since 2003 has been linked to the Rose Revolution, following which a popular new president was committed to reducing corruption e but was also well supported (Shelley et al., 2007). Conversely, President Constantinescu failed to curb corruption in Romania in the late-1990s largely because key agencies of the state were opposed to his attempts. Conclusions At the beginning of this article, the question was raised as to whether or not the crime and corruption situation in CEE and CIS states had begun to improve. Having examined the available evidence, is there reason for guarded optimism? As with so many other aspects of post-communism, the picture is mixed, varying from country to country. But if the CEE and CIS region as a whole is analysed, the answer is armative; while some countries are still mired in corruption, the evidence indicates either a stabilisation or an improvement in most countries in at least two of the three areas of anti-social behaviour considered (insucient evidence is cited here to permit the drawing of even tentative conclusions about organised crime). It is true that crime rates in many parts of the world appear to be dropping e for reasons that range from better security technology for protecting homes and motor cars to, it has been claimed, the impact of more liberal abortion laws (Levitt and Dubner, 2005). Some factors, such as greater use of security technology, apply in the postcommunist world too. But there are also features peculiar to CEE and the CIS. But perhaps we are looking in the wrong place anyway for the most serious threat from the largest and most powerful of the CEE and CIS states. While most Russians

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might approve of the fact that Putin gave them back their sense of national pride, this is unfortunately at the expense of others e whether it be in the form of energy blackmail or seeking to remove democratically elected leaders who dare to criticise the Kremlin bosses. In focusing so much on the threats from post-communist crime and corruption since the 1990s, we may have been paying insucient attention to the gradual return of traditional threats. The strengthening of weak states generally appears to be a positive development in terms of bringing crime and corruption under control; but it can also create new problems e or old problems in a new guise e for international security.

Acknowledgment I am indebted to the Australian Research Council (ARC) for funding that greatly facilitated the research for this project (Large Grant No. A79930728 and Discovery Grant No.DP0558453).

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