In the malaise that corrodes the political and economic lives of contemporary Russia and most of its post-Soviet neighbors, corruption suffuses and suborns government itself. Serio does not make corruption his subject, except indirectly. Rather, from a unique perspective, he focuses on the sloppy, misappropriated way the notion of "Mafia" is used in and about Russia. His unique vantage point comes from serving for a year in the early 1990s in the Russian Interior Ministry's Organized Crime Control Department. He uses this perspective not only to etch the contemporary contours of organized crime in Russia and where it blurs into the wider world of corruption there but also to measure the contemporary case against the role of criminal deviancy back through the Soviet period to the Middle Ages. The pedigree is long-standing, but from the fine lines he draws and the incredibly intricate and ramified links embedding powerful criminal groupings into contemporary business and politics, it is clear that the new incarnation innovates impressively.
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