outside the barbed wire of the camps.rnIvankov’s patrons included the notorious “Mongol,” GennadirnKorkov, the Georgian vor v zakone Otari Kvantrishvilirn(Kvantrishvili was the Bugsy Siegel of Soviet/FSU gangdom,rnand his opulent funeral in 1994—which attracted luminariesrnfrom business and polidcs, as well as from gangland—mightrnhave made Johnny Torrio blush with envy), and VyacheslavrnSliva, with whom the Yaponchik had organized his own gang.rnTheir activities were typical of Soviet-era gangsters: robbing thernapartments of jewelers and anhque collectors, shaking downrnblack marketeers, and “protecting” illegal gambling and prostitutionrnrings. According to some accounts, the Yaponchik alsorncontracted out his unique sen’ices, in this case beatings andrnmurders, to the KGB, who sometimes needed gangsters to performrndelicate operations for them. It may have been such contactsrnthat enabled Ivankov to secure an early release from a 14-rnyear prison sentence he received for extortion in 1981. Afterrnserving ten years (there is evidence that the Yaponchik, who byrnthis hme had emerged as one of the leading figures in the Soviet-rnera organized crime world, not only operated his criminalrnempire from within the walls of prison, but lived a life of comparativernluxury that many Soviet citizens would have envied),rnhe was released after several prominent public figures pleadedrnhis case to then president Mikhail Gorbachev and then chairmanrnof the Russian Federation Supreme Soviet, Boris Yeltsin.rnAt any rate, the Yaponchik had kept close tabs on the momentousrnchanges going on during the perestroika era and saw opportunitiesrnfor expansion that had been imdreamed of by thernfamed thieves of the Russian brotherhood’s past.rnYaponchik wanted to modernize the Soviet Union’s underworld,rnand to do this he first had to deal with thernGhechens. During the late Soviet period, the Ghechen CosarnNostra openly operated across Russia and impudently occupiedrnthe gigantic Rossiya hotel, whose windows looked out on therncitadel of Russian power, the Kremlin (anyone who visited thernRossiya in the late 80’s and earlv 90’s can testify to the sea ofrnblack limos, hulking bodyguards, and black-fedoraed Ghechenrngodfathers/clan leaders with their signature black leather jacketsrnand droopy mustaches that encroached on Red Square itself).rnA relentiess war of contract murders, organized by thernYaponchik’s hand-picked man, veteran killer Andrei Isayev,rnwho goes by the name “Rospis” (“Signature”), was wagedrnagainst the “blacks,” the Gaucasian Ghechens and Azeris whornwere moving in on the turf of the Slavic, Georgian, and Jewishrngangsters. But this war was also over new opportunities andrnemerging markets for gang activity: narcotics and control overrnnewly opened casinos, hotels, car dealerships, television stations,rnand banks. The war continues to this day, with the gangsrnstanding behind—or alongside — many of the “new Russians,”rnthe rising entrepreneurial class of real estate, banking, media,rnand raw materials (especially oil) magnates. Shakedowns of thern”new Russians” were common, but so was—and is—partnershiprnand cooperation. Moreover, the civil wars raging in therncorners of what would soon be the FSU opened up vast opportunitiesrnfor arms trafficking (the Yaponchik is said to have investedrnheavily in arming participants in the struggle betweenrnAzeris and Armenians over Nagorno-Karabakh) and the smugglingrnof precious metals, including uranium. Moreover, as thernSoviet Union began collapsing, the West, with its porous bordersrnand untapped (for the Soviet/FSU mafia, anyway) markets,rnbeckoned the FSU gangs.rnBy some accounts, the Yaponchik had organized a sort ofrncriminal politburo that sought to resolve conflicts, punish dissenters,rnand divide up the turf and responsibilities of the organizedrncrime groups. This gangster politburo supposedly sentrnIvankov to manage the gangs’ affairs in /America. In any case,rnIvankov left the Soviet Union in the spring of 1991 on a falsernpassport and made his way illegally to New York Cit”s BrightonrnBeach area. Brighton Beach is populated mainly by Russianspeakingrnimmigrants, predominantly Jews, and it was here thatrnIvankov intimidated, murdered, and formed partnerships withrnJewish gangsters. His closest business associates have reportedlyrnbeen the Zilber brothers of Odessa, Vladimir and Alex. HisrnAmerican-based operation was called the “Organization” (organizatsiya)rnby insiders, and with it he helped many of his FSUrnminions enter the United States illegally with false identityrnpapers. He then moved his base to Brooklyn, reportedly establishingrnsolid business partnerships with the Genovesernand Gambino mafia families and the Golombian cocainerncartels.rnBy 1995, the Yaponchik was riding high. The organizatsiyarnwas expanding its operations to New Jersey, Los Angeles, Denverrn(where Ivankov had a residence), Miami, and Torontornand was even moving into the realm of professional sports: FSUrngangsters have allegedly attempted to extort cash from RussianrnNHL hockey players .Alexander Mogilny, Vladimir Malakhov,rnand Alexei Zhitnik. Moreover, Ivankov illegally visited Russiarnon several occasions to oversee his operations there.rnIvankov’s arrest in 1995 on an extortion charge and subsequentrnsentencing to a federal prison may or may not signal thernend of his criminal career. In any event, /America should takernnote of his bloody career. First, Ivankov entered, left, and reenteredrnthe United States on numerous occasions illegally andrnwas able to build a criminal empire here, acquiring propertyrnand consorting with crime bosses in New York, Los Angeles,rnand Miami —and he did all this without even knowing a wordrnof English! The point is not to exaggerate the threat of thern”Russian” mafia or to indulge in Russophobia, but rather to emphasizernthe laxify of American border controls and the threatrnposed by the New World Order of open borders, mass immigration,rnand transnational business.rnThese transnational gangsters, who now have political influencernin their native lands and whose activities diminish the securify-rnof our own, love the “global economy.” If the FSU mafiarncan shift assets across borders, acquire property, and move itsrnmembers in and out of other states, so can the Golombian cocainerncartels, the Ghinese Tongs (remember the little armsrndeal the Tongs wanted to make with L.A. street gangs?), andrnMexican drug traffickers. Moreover, consider this tidbit fromrnMoskovskaya Pravda:rnThe American Gosa Nostra moved to the United Statesrnfrom Italy, whose population today totals about 58 million,rnwhile the population of the former Soviet republicsrncomes to about 289 million! . . . It is clear that a greatrnmany significant organized criminal groups exist withinrnthis Eurasian population. It is the increased freedom ofrninternational travel, business opportunities, and shiftingrnof financial assets that involuntarily facilitates spreadingrnthe problem of [FSU] crime to the United States.rnAs the trail of the Yaponchik cleariy shows, America is indeedrnthe Land of Opportunity-. CrnOCTOBER 1998/25rnrnrn