How Russian is the “Russian” Mafia?


Vors per Capita

Ethnic Group Vors Pop (1989) Vors/100,000
Yezidis 26 152,717 17.02
Abkhazians 9 105,308 8.55
Georgians 242 3,981,045 6.08
Talish 1 21,602 4.63
Greeks 5 358,068 1.40
Ingush 3 237,438 1.26
Balkarians 1 85,126 1.17
Chechens 9 956,879 0.94
Armenians 30 4,623,232 0.65
Jews 7 1,378,344 0.51
Ossetians 3 597,998 0.50
Dargins 1 365,038 0.27
Azeris 16 6,770,403 0.24
Lezgins 1 466,006 0.21
Avars 1 600,989 0.17
Bashkirs 2 1,449,157 0.14
Moldovans 3 3,352,352 0.09
Kyrgyz 2 2,528,946 0.08
Tatars 4 6,648,760 0.06
Germans 1 2,038,603 0.05
Kazakhs 3 8,135,818 0.04
Russians 53 145,155,489 0.04
Ukrainians 6 44,186,006 0.01
Uzbeks 2 16,697,825 0.01
Belorussians 1 10,036,251 0.01
USSR (Total) 432 285,742,511 0.15

“Mafia is not a Russian word,” Vladimir Putin.

It would be more accurate to just call it the Eurasian Mafia. Or the Caucasian Mafia.

This includes the absolute top dogs:

Fast forwarding to the 21st century, some of the most prominent Russian mafia bosses of recent years were the Kurdish Aslan Usoyan (“Grandpa Hassan”), assassinated in January 2013 by a competing kingpin rumored to be either the Georgian Tariel Oniani or the Azeri Rovshan Janiev. In the US, they had their counterparts in the Evsey Agron and Boris Goldberg; the heavily Jewish nature of the Russian mafia in the US was made clear in the 2005 movie Lord of War.

Georgians are particularly well represented:

Georgia always had a disproportionately high number of crime bosses and still has a majority of the 700 or so still operating in the post-Soviet space and western Georgia (Kutaisi clan) is particularly well represented. …

The Russian criminal subculture of the thieves-in-law disproportionately included ethnic Georgians. During the 1970s Brezhnev stagnation, corrupt officials increasingly turned to the criminal underworld to source black market supplies. However, the Thieves Code explicitly forbade cooperation of any kind with the authorities, and at a 1982 summit of thieves in Tbilisi, the secret society was split in two, with Georgian thieves favouring closer collaboration with officials while this motion was opposed by Slavic ‘purists’.


In this respect, the latest Deus Ex game was commendably accurate, in that its East European organized crime group was in fact highly Georgianized.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Why are Jews so over-represented in the post-91 kleptocrats and caucasians so under-represented?

  2. More g loaded.

  3. From my understanding, ethnicity was never something the Russian underworld cared much about, especially relative to comparable criminal organizations with international reach-say, the yakuza or Cosa Nostra. The most prominent figure associated with it is a Ukrainian Jew, Semyon Mogilevich, aka, the Brainy Don.

    (Didn’t both Brighton Beach and Israel deal with some massive issues with post-Soviet organized crime?)

  4. FSU criminal organizations are much less vertically integrated than the other two you mentioned. That being said, throughout the history of the Voryi, there have been various attempts to rebalance the number of Slavic Voryi relative to the other ethnicities. Usually, though, local conflicts and the division of spheres are more important than ethnic allegiances.

  5. Georgia always had a disproportionately high number of crime bosses

    And how many are really Georgian, as opposed to “Georgian” like (((Garry Kasparov))) ?

  6. Trying to create a nation state within Russia today goes against Putin’s decidedly pro Eurasian plans (and actually against trends in all of the world today). So, putting aside ethnicity and tribal affiliations, how many members of the ‘Russian mafia’ have Russian citizenship? 100%?

  7. Welcome to the new Russia, Anatoly, not the imaginary one that you dream of in Ukraine that doesn’t exist, but to the new, real one in Russia! 🙂

  8. The conclusion here, I suppose, is that organized crime selects for clannishness. Typically very high among mountain peoples but also among Sicilians.

    Irish, being outside the Hajnal line, seem clannish in comparison to English, but not so much when compared to Sicilians, which might be partly why Italian-American organized crime was ultimately more powerful.

    Likewise, Russians are perhaps more clannish — or at least more disposed towards corruption — than Western Europeans, but vastly exceeded in clannishness by Caucasian peoples.

  9. Kasparov has a Jewish father and an Armenian mother.

  10. John Gruskos says

    How Sicilian is the Mafia?

    Mafia is an Arabic word.

    Initiation rituals involving the desecration of icons are shockingly anti-Christian: perhaps a vestigial remnant of the group’s non-Christian origin.

    The Mafia is concentrated in western Sicily, which was the first part of Sicily conquered by the Arabs, and also their last holdout against Christian reconquest.

    Are the Mafia families the descendants of those Muslim Arabs who remained on Sicily after the Norman reconquest, and have been preying on the real Sicilians all these centuries?

  11. I was friends with a family member of Mogilevich’s right hand man, even hitched a lift with him and his seven foot, ponytailed, leather jacket wearing, jazz listening driver/bodyguard when I lived in Moscow. A lot of the Jewish mafia types I met were very much organised crime/legitimate businessmen, operating at a much higher level than street thugs. They all seemed to have moved to the US, New Jersey in particular, in the 90s then fled back to Russia, with perhaps a stay in Hungary too. They holiday a lot in Israel and have boltholes in Southern France. Most seem like legitimate businessmen these days but I wouldn’t recommend doing business with them.

    From what I have read Israel now has serious problem with oganised crime having penetrated all Israeli institutions due to the influx of 90s gangsters from the FSU.

  12. What are you on about? This has been the case literally since Tsarist times (main difference is that the bulk of the overrepresentation accrued to Jews a century ago, and accrues to Caucasians – especially Georgians – from the late USSR to today).

    Speaking of Eurasianism. Obviously no fan of open borders with Central Asia, but as the statistics make clear, Central Asians are no more prone to mafia-like activity than are Russians. This seems to be a predominantly Caucasian issue.

  13. Thorfinnsson says

    Irish, being outside the Hajnal line, seem clannish in comparison to English, but not so much when compared to Sicilians, which might be partly why Italian-American organized crime was ultimately more powerful.

    There’s more to it than this, which Steve Sailer pointed out.

    The Irish have a drinking problem, Sicilians (and other Meds) do not.

    How many Irish gangsters squandered the golden opportunity of Prohibition getting high on their own supply?

  14. From what I have read Israel now has serious problem with oganised crime having penetrated all Israeli institutions due to the influx of 90s gangsters from the FSU.

    The dangerous/violent mafia in Israel is Moroccan-Jews and Arab-Muslims. If you read the local media, they are assassinating their rivals in the street every other week.

    I believe the Russian mafia are using Israel more as a money laundering station, like Cyprus. They are not walking around in the streets with guns and assassinating rivals – they are just seeing it as a money laundering place, where they can buy property in cash and no-one will know about it.

    The luxury properties in Israel are always advertised in Russian (local people cannot afford them). And a slightly questionable people from the FSU are ‘parking their money’ there – there’s a case recently with members of Yanukovych’s inner circle that were buying apartments in Israel.

    This is the kind of Israeli property which I imagine only people from CIS countries would buy, in order to launder or park money – and even in terms of the taste I doubt any native Israelis would order to construct a building like this.

  15. Eastern Promises also portrayed the ethnic composition fairly accurately. Though you can’t tell if the vor is Jewish. Interestingly, I don’t think any actors in it are from the FSU.

  16. Not the Kennedys!

  17. I have been told Tel Aviv is even worse than London. No doubt my friend’s father is facilitating a fair amount of it.

  18. Thats what I meant, he is supposed to considered Georgian (as opposed to being jewish), the question applies to how Georgian the Georgian crime lords are.

  19. I once had a classmate in the early 90s, son of some minister in the Georgian government and nephew of some mafia boss in Moscow (or vice versa). He had trouble reaching his father because the phone number was being changed weekly. He was ethnic Georgian, not Jewish.

  20. The world doesn’t revolve around Jews. Jews were prominent in OC during the Tsarist and early Soviet era, and (by definition) amongst Soviet emigres during the Cold War. They have upgraded since then, and the late Soviet era to today was dominated by Georgians and other Caucasians.

  21. There were 358,000 Greeks in the USSR?

    The stuff I learn.

  22. jack daniels says

    According to Zionists such as Louis Brandeis, Jews comprise a nation. This is also the view of many scholars of nationalism. Finally, it is the view of common sense. Is a Georgian Jew more likely to identify with a Georgian Muslim or a Ukrainian Jew? There’s no reason why religion and nationality can’t overlap, especially when even devout Jews view lapsed or secular Jews as Jews in the eyes of G-d, which is quite the opposite of the Christian notion that belief alone matters.

  23. Philip Owen says

    The Germans may have been few in number but they ran the most effective mafia. In Saratov/Engels where many of them lived, the Mafia was structured ethnically. I well remember going into the back room of a restaurant in Saratov and meeting about 8 or 9 men all with large sheath knives out in front of them on the table. My Georgian friends collected the uncooked Shashlik he had ordered and we moved on. The ethnic Germans were outnumbered by such persons but still, the Volga Deutsche Bank had fingers in more pies than any other. The Germans seemed to be German without differentiating between Protestant and Catholic. The young ones left for Germany by the many tens of thousands, Germany had a consulate in Saratov to deal with this, so the VDB finally declared victory and liquidated itself in an orderly fashion (what else).

    Jews didn’t seem to be big players in the Mafia but they did disproportionately well in legitimate business. And I seem to meet more Armenians that there should be too.

    Meanwhile, who else has seen the BBC McMafia? It is available on catch up. It is a very stylish, expensive and violent drama about Russians in London failing to escape from their legacy in 1990’s Moscow. It includes subplots in Israel, Mumbai and Mexico. The lead actor is rather wooden but the supporting cast is brilliant. The Russians are played by Russian actors and talk in Russian. The Russian Embassy in the UK has protested at the image of Russia as a centre of narcotic smuggling. Certainly, the FSB make considerable efforts to stop Saratov being used as a distribution centre (it is a distribution centre for vegetables being imported from the Fergana valley in Central Asia.

  24. I have been told Tel Aviv is even worse than London. No doubt my friend’s father is facilitating a fair amount of it.

    I was in Israel last week. My impression in Tel Aviv (and Jerusalem), there are surprisingly very very few Russian speakers.

    Russian-speakers all get spread far out from the cities, into the suburbs where it’s cheaper. Not in Tel Aviv proper. My friend (who is recently graduated doctor) has been stuck in a horrible run down area of Bat Yam.

    But I guess the wealthy strata and likewise money launderers might buy in Herzliya Pituah, Caesarea and more recently even Netanya (which where all the mafia in Israel supposedly live).

    Makarevich bought one of the new developments in Netanya.

    Pugacheva buying a villa (it’s in Caesarea)

    And oligarchs like Valery Kogan build this Whitehouse replica in Caesarea

    The funny one to me, is Yanukovich’s former minister, Eduard Stavitskiy – who managed to settle in Israel, where he comically changed his name to ‘Nathan Rosenburg’ and is now chilling out with his fortune in a Northern Tel Aviv suburb.–kZ6Q

  25. Jews do not tattoo on their bodies their rank in organization the do belong. It is smart but there is also a taboo in Judaism:

    Do tattoos violate Jewish law?
    Most rabbis say yes. Their objection traces to Leviticus 19.28, which states: “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.”

    The database seems to be the database of those who were caught and identified. 432 vors in Russia does not seem like a lot. MS-13 has 10,000 members in the US and all of them with tacks all over their bodies.

  26. We moved into politics

  27. Many Greeks fled to Russia after the fall of Constantinople.

  28. German emigrants to the East were heavily Protestant; at least one radical dissenting sect had an exemption from military service. Some converted to Russian Orthodoxy.

  29. What’s so difficult for you to understand? All that I’m stating is that the stereotypical Russian mafioso that the world has come to know all share two important factors: 1) Russian citizenship. 2) usage of the Russian language. These patterns seem to mimic very closely the evolution of the Russian nationality today. The Eurasionist historic school has gained the upper hand within Russian society, that got special consideration during soviet times and is continuing unabated. The type of Russian nationalism that you seem to promote looks like an anomaly, even less likely to succeed down the road than the alt-right movement in the US.

  30. Putin’s daughter married a Jewish minigarch, just like Trump’s.

    This is not really substantiated. It’s highly possible, as the surname of the husband is from Central Asia (and he is clearly from Central Asia or Caucasus), but surname itself is found in different nationalities so there is no direct evidence.

    One point though is that Putin’s ex-wife is definitely of a part Jewish background, but this has been censored/deleted from the internet.

  31. Honestly, this is ridiculous. When I think of “Russian mafia” I think of groups like Solntsevskaya, Tambovskaya, Uralmash, and so on, not the “thieves in law”. Most of the “soldiers” and leaders of those groups were not thieves in law. What is the point of even bringing up this database of thieves? Do you honestly think some no-name thief in law meant more in the criminal world than people like Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin, Viktor Averin, Sergey Mikhailov, etc? None of whom is in that database.

  32. That’s your standard American understanding of the Mafia.

    To help illustrate why it’s wrong I’ll simply tell you about Corleone, Sicily, the city most associated with the Mafia due to The Godfather and due to the fact that it produced many of the most powerful Mafia leaders during the 20th century, Luciano Liggio best known.

    Corleone is populated by a hybrid mix of two populations: Lombards who colonized Sicily in the Medieval Era and Arbereshe (Eastern Orthodox Albanians) who fled the Ottoman onslaught.

    As for the western tip of Sicily, North African admixture there is no higher than 6% as per recent studies, and it is yet to be determined if that admixture is Carthaginian or something more recent.